Freezing temperatures and snowfall are prompting agencies and nonprofits in Oregon to expand emergency shelters and resources across the state.
The Washington County winter shelter program expanded this year to provide an additional 187 beds over several sites throughout the county.
Beaverton's severe weather shelter, run by local homeless service nonprofit Just Compassion, has been at or near the 30-person maximum for weeks before the snow.
Just Compassion was recently granted permission from Washington County to add five more beds, said shelter coordinator Emma Burridge.
The demand for beds has been so high, Burridge said, that there have been instances where she has had to turn people away.
"But luckily, Washington County is running a shuttle and they're providing lift rides to anyone who we cannot house, and we'll send them to other shelters in the county that have availability," she added.
The Beaverton shelter, which before COVID-19 was only open once per week, provides people with three meals per day and is open 24/7.
Just Compassion also has a Tigard location that has space for up to 20 adults and is open from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m.
Burridge said the Beaverton shelter is fully staffed but won't turn away any volunteers who want to help. The shelter is also always accepting donations of packaged food, since staff can't cook at the shelter.
"Anything that is pre-prepared … like bread and peanut butter, Cup o' Noodles," she said.
Clothing donations are also always needed, Burridge said. Jackets, coats, hand warmers and shoes are in especially high demand.
"Even if we're at capacity, we can set them up with a bed at our shelter," Burridge said. "We like to offer them any resources they need otherwise."
The Resource Center in Tigard is seeking volunteers who are available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, or between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday. Volunteers are needed to help with check-in, the kitchen, meal prep, supervision, and closing and cleanup.
There are also support roles available after hours for folks who want to help but need more time adjusting to working with the homeless population.
"We try to match people up with what they're interested in," said Just Compassion executive director Vernon Baker.
Most shifts are no more than two hours. People can choose to sign up for weekly, biweekly, monthly or on-call shifts.
Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and be able to provide their own source of transportation to the Resource Center, which is located at 12280 S.W. Hall Blvd.
Anyone with specific questions rcan call the resource center at 503-624-4666.
Anyone who wants more information on how to donate or volunteer with Just Compassion can visit justcompassionewc.com/get-involved-1.
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