Run or Walk for Shelter raises $6,403 amid move to start homeless coalition in Forest Grove, western Washington County

COURTESY PHOTO - Pastor Dan Thompson-Aue of the Forest Grove United Methodist Church smiles as he crosses the finish line.One hundred people ran and walked Saturday, Oct. 7, in Forest Grove to help support homeless shelters hosted by the Forest Grove United Church of Christ and Sonrise Church.

The youngest participant was 5 and the oldest was 74. Together, they raised $6,403 to help keep up with increasing costs of providing overnight stays and meals to the community's homeless population at the winter temporary emergency shelters.

Winners in the 5K event included Quincy Norman in first place, Hannah Aguirre in second place and Adrian Shipley in third place. The race started at Forest Grove High School and snaked through surrounding neighborhoods.

"It was a wonderful community event with lots of excitement and enthusiasm," said Elena Parker, office administrator at the FGUCC and coordinator of the run/walk event. "We're so grateful to the community for the tremendous support and caring for this program." Participants ranged in age from five to 74.

The UCC and Sonrise shelters operate four nights a week with supervision from paid staff members and a group of about 200 volunteers. A Community Enhancement Program grant from the city of Forest Grove supports two part-time paid positions — meals coordinator and staffing coordinator, and assists with some operating costs. The shelter also partners with Pacific University to utilize work-study students.

This fall and winter the churches plan to add an extra five to six weeks to the shelter schedule, which the 5K money will help fund. They'll open Nov. 20 — earlier than last year — and close one month later than last season at the end of March.

Effort to aid homeless moves to west county

The temporary emergency shelter effort was a big first step in a local church-led effort to help the homeless. COURTESY PHOTO - Quincy Norman and Adrian Shipley were among the top finishers in the 5K race, along with Hannah Aguirre.

A community meeting over the summer presented the idea of a homeless coalition in western Washington County, similar to Just Compassion of eastern Washington County, a nonprofit network of businesses, nonprofits, churches and civic organizations that share resources to help those in need.

As another step in forming a western Washington County network, Sonrise parishioner Brian Schimmel and Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce President Howard Sullivan have been approaching local businesses about donating leftover food and goods to the cause. Aramark, the food service provider for Pacific University, has been donating 50 to 100 pounds of leftover food every week to Sonrise.

Currently, volunteers are distributing the food at their clothes closet, in Portland and through Forest Grove's Solid Life Center, a church-run food pantry.

When the shelter season starts, that leftover food will go to temporary shelter attendees.

Maggie's Buns of Forest Grove has also agreed to donate leftovers.

Schimmel said he and Sullivan have talked to most of the other downtown Forest Grove restaurant owners about donating food that would otherwise be wasted and they've been receptive to the idea overall. Donations are tax deductible.

Safeway, Dollar Tree and Bi-Mart have been generous to the churches' efforts in past years, Schimmel said, donating food, toiletries and other supplies. And Next Dimension Bakery frequently donates fresh-baked pastries. COURTESY PHOTO - Wendy White registers human and dog participants in the shelter-support event Saturday morning, Oct. 7.

Those interested in donating to the cause or volunteering at this year's winter shelter nights — open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — can attend orientations at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5; at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7; and at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Forest Grove United Church of Christ, 2032 College Way.

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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