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Video appeals for volunteers in warming centers

One congregation sets up to receive homeless guests.

Winter weather has also caught up with Spokane and its homeless friends, commented Maurice Smith of Rising River Media, who has created a short video, "Volunteering at Church Warming Centers," to inform members of the faith community.

"I appreciate that our new city administration has made noteworthy efforts to mitigate the impact of this weather by opening up more than 180 additional shelter/warming beds," he said. "Recent efforts have included not only re-opening the Cannon Street Shelter, but also opening four church-based warming centers."

The church centers have opened because of a team coordinated by Johnny Edmundson of Growing Neighbors at Shadle Park Presbyterian, Christian McKinney of the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium (SLIHC) and Julie Garcia of Jewels Helping Hands.

Over the years, many have hoped—prayed—that area churches would catch a vision for making a difference on homelessness and serve unsheltered friends by opening their buildings as temporary winter warming centers, Maurice commented.

Now four church-based warming centers keep 80 people—20 per location—safe and warm.

While staff from Jewels Helping Hands are providing 24/7 onsite managers at each location, they need more volunteers.

Maurice created the video to let potential volunteers see how they might help. One image is of four people sitting around a propane fire pit that one volunteer donated.

Maurice invites viewers to imagine the man in a wheelchair trying to negotiate around in the snow to find the nearest bus stop to go to DSHS.

A Vietnam veteran who saw two tours of duty in Vietnam and was shot four times is staying at the Warming Center. Maurice wants to learn more of his story, "because, ultimately, homelessness is about real people and their stories," he said.

"We need more volunteers to step up. Homelessness is a community issue that requires community involvement to solve. That involvement and that solution can start with something as simple as volunteering for an hour or two or more at a Church Warming Center and discovering the true faces and stories of those experiencing homelessness," Maurice said, inviting people to make the video go viral by posting it on their social media and emailing it to their mailing lists.

For information, call 475-8797. Link to the video "Volunteering at Church Warming Centers" at

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, February 2024