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Church collecting coats for homeless students

Culver Christian Pastor Al Detres shows some of the coats collected for homeless students.When members of the Culver Christian Church learned that many students didn’t have winter coats, they decided to do something about it.

Pastor Al Detres said when he moved to Culver 1 1/2 years ago, “I noticed some kids were just wearing sweaters in February when it was 20 degrees in the mornings. I later found out the kids didn’t have jackets.”

After discussing it with the congregation, this year Detres called the school. “Superintendent Stephanie Garber said coats were an issue and some kids don’t have those needs met, and put me in contact with Darlene Urbach (the district’s homeless liaison), who said shoes and jackets were the greatest need,” he said.

Detres also talked the problem over with Pastor Martin Haysacker of the Culver Nazarene Church, and both churches decided to hold coat and shoe drives.

The Nazarene Church delivered the jackets and money it collected to buy jackets to Culver schools on Oct. 28, while Culver Christian Church began its drive Oct. 21 and will continue it until Christmas.

“In November, we take a Thanksgiving offering, with half going to the school to buy shoes and jackets, and half going to the Culver food pantry,” Detres said.

The church is also accepting donations from the public of new or used jackets and shoes, in good condition, to give to the schools.

Homeless students

Urbach said at the end of last school year, the Culver District had recorded 130 homeless students. This year, the October homeless count was 79, but it will probably increase.

“This year we anticipate it will be even higher than last year because we are adding preschool children to the count,” Urbach said.

As the schools’ homeless liaison, she works with teachers and preschool programs to find out what families need help, and finds others by word of mouth.

“Coats and shoes are a huge need right now,” Urbach said, adding, “Many times, I’ve gone home and pulled things out of my own closet.”

By law, all school districts must have a homeless liaison. To be counted as homeless, students must be living in a shelter or hotel, be unaccompanied (no parent, living with relatives, or “couch surfing”), living in substandard housing such as a trailer park with old mobile homes, or with their family, which is new to town and is doubling up with other families.

In many school districts, the liaison duties are just extra duties assigned to a staff person. That person keeps a homeless student count, but has no funding to provide services. However, locally, Urbach said the Central Oregon school districts applied as a group and received a two-year grant from the Oregon Department of Education to hire liaisons to offer assistance.

“The grant means I have a few extra hours where I can go and check on families and do home visits. Deschutes County has a Family Advocate Network that helps with housing, utilities, food and clothing. We also have a homeless liaison in Madras and I’m applying for a FAN grant for next year,” Urbach said.

Even though it’s not funded yet, Urbach tries to help homeless students’ families in Culver with their needs.

“Culver City Hall gives me the leftover food from its senior meals and I take it to the families. It’s a great resource. I donate my time to pick up and deliver the food, but it’s in my heart to do it,” said Urbach, who has been a homeless liaison for three years.




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  • 23 Jul 2014

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