Sharing Lives: 2020 Summer Issue

Thank You! Your Generosity is Making a Difference!

The past few months have been filled with challenges, anxiety and uncertainty for everyone. For the clients and families we serve, barriers to housing and access to nutritious meals have been worsened by the struggling economy, with thousands of our local neighbors unemployed. As an organization, we continue to press forward, adapting to the new normal—and your support is making the difference. You quickly answered our call for help as the state of Washington navigated the stay-at-home order, when community organizers launched #GivingTuesdayNow and in support of our Appeal for Meals campaign. Here’s how your donations have had a positive impact:

8,625 to-go meals
The need for to-go meals at Share House increased by 133%—from 3,700 meals in February to 8,625 meals in May. To ensure the health of our staff, volunteers and clients, as well as the safety of our food distribution, our program quickly transitioned to healthy to-go meals on March 14. We expect to see the need for meals to continue to increase as local individual and family budgets are impacted by unemployment.

25 households moved into housing in May
Staff from our Family Pathways, Collaborative Housing, Affordable Housing & Stability, and Housing Achievement & Enrichment programs were successful in moving 25 households into housing in May. Two included:

  • Jane*: disabled and living on a fixed income, she had been in shelter for five months; she successfully received a Housing Choice Voucher from Vancouver Housing Authority and was able to secure her own apartment.
  • The Johnson* family: in shelter for three months, single mother, Anna*, was living with her brother, who had moved in to help with childcare, so that she could continue to work full time. A cook at an assisted living facility, she saw her hours cut by the covid-19 crisis. Share staff helped her apply for unemployment to supplement her lost pay, and the family moved into their own home at the end of May.
    * Names changed for anonymity

WHO extended to June 30
We are incredibly grateful to Pastor Cindy Muse and her leadership team at St. Andrew Lutheran Church who more than once agreed to extend the Winter Hospitality Overflow program at the church to serve 30 vulnerable individuals (including children) during the extended stay-at-home order. Share continued to cover costs for staffing and supplies, plus most food items. Plus, 15 single men also continue to have access to sleeping mats on the dining room floor at Share House during the evenings.

42,107 bags of food to children & families*
Despite school doors being closed, our Backpack Program continued to operate. Through our partnerships with Evergreen and Vancouver Public Schools, as well as the Battle Ground School District, a small crew of staff and volunteers packed 900+ food bags each week which were available at grab & go school locations on Thursdays. A total of 11,584 bags were packed from mid-March to June 4. * During the 2019-2020 school year

36+ tons picked up by Talkin’ Trash
Our Talkin’ Trash crew continues on its weekly route, picking up more than 36 tons of refuse through the end of May. When the crews encounter a camp, they work with the individual(s) to collect trash/litter from the site—they do not remove camps or personal belongings. The crew works closely with Share’s Street Outreach team to ensure that those in need of resources and services have access to them.

WHAT operates 24-hours for 13 women
At the end of March, the Women’s Housing and Transition (WHAT) shelter quickly adapted from an overnight shelter to a 24-hour shelter. Share hired additional staff members to meet that need, as with coffee shops, restaurants and even the library closed, there was nowhere for these women to go during the day. We are grateful to St Lukes ~ San Lucas Episcopal Church for their facility which houses this vital shelter for 13 women during the covid-19 crisis, as well as the City of Vancouver and Clark County for funding.


Additional articles in the 2020 Summer edition include: Grocery Outlet ‘Independence from Hunger Food Drive’ to Benefit Share; Volunteers: the heart of our organization; Needed Items for the Summer Months; Share Stands Up for Equity & Against Racism; Share’s Free Summer Meals Program; If I Can Rollover, So Can You (IRA Article); Share’s Virtual Soup Week Oct. 5 to 11 (replacing Soup’s On!); Share Orchards Inn Remodel Complete

Download a PDF version of the 2020 Summer Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2020 Spring Edition

Please note this edition was published at the end of March 2020. Updates to Share’s response to the COVID-19 crisis can be viewed by clicking here.

We Care About Our Community: How Share is Facing Coronavirus

As coronavirus continues to dominate the news, we want to assure you that Share is focused on our mission and committed to doing our part to ensure the safety of our clients, staff, volunteers, donors and supporters, and the community at large.

It’s true, these are unprecedented times. But our community always steps up to help those in need.

We are grateful for our partnerships with Evergreen (EPS) and Vancouver Public Schools (VPS). While VPS is suspending their food program at this time, we continue to get bags of food to children—and their families—through EPS. At the Share Fromhold Service Center, a small crew of staff and volunteers (while adhering to social distancing guidelines) pack 600+ food bags which are available at “grab & go” school locations from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays (visit evergreenps.org for site locations, vansd.org for updates and clarkcountyfoodbank.org/coronavirus for additional food resources).

While our dining room at Share House is closed, our ‘delivery window’ is open. To-go meals are served daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; meals times remain the same. This change was implemented on March 14 and will continue until further notice.

We are grateful to St. Paul Lutheran, St. Andrew Lutheran and St. Luke’s Episcopal churches who despite closing their faith services continue to provide space for the Winter Hospitality Overflow and Women’s Housing and Transition shelters.

We also want to express our appreciation to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington who has granted funds to Share so that we may provide hazard pay to our staff on the front line continuing to provide essential services to the most vulnerable members of our community.

We cannot fully express the depth of our gratitude for individual volunteers and business groups who continue to donate their time to help keep these programs open and serving our neighbors and families who rely on these meals.

Share Fromhold Service Center: Due to increased risk of spreading coronavirus, the Share Fromhold Service Center will be open by appointment only. If you have a scheduled appointment, please ring the doorbell. No donations are being accepted at this time.

Share Family Shelters: We will continue to provide meals to the families and single women living at Share Homestead, as well as providing support to our off-campus families residing temporarily at local apartments while Share Orchards Inn is under construction.

At all Share facilities, we will continue to follow all recommended local sanitation and health guidelines. Staff members practice proper hygiene, including handwashing with soap and water, as well as disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

Clients in shelters, at Lincoln Place and those receiving meals at Share House also are encouraged to practice proper handwashing with soap for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol when handwashing isn’t available.

The show will go on for our ‘There’s No Business Like Share Business’ Annual Gala, which has been postponed to Saturday, August 8, 2020.

Our Appeal for Meals (formerly called Hunger Appeal) will still be held during the first week of June.

For Our Volunteers:
• Liquid hand soap and single-use paper towels are stocked at all hand-washing sinks/stations.
• Hand sanitizer is provided at entrances and common areas.
• Volunteers accepting and sorting donations will be provided with disposable gloves.
• All high-touch surfaces, including door handles, restrooms, counters, tables, surfaces in use during volunteer activities, will be routinely disinfected.

Volunteers age 60 and over are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to stay home and not volunteer. We will not bar you from entering, but we acknowledge the unique risks facing our older volunteers, and we want you to be safe.

We serve a vulnerable population. We understand your commitment to helping those in need. However, we kindly request any volunteers with symptoms of an illness (e.g. cough, fever, sore throat) notify us, and to stay home until symptom free for 72 hours. Additionally, if your immune system is compromised or you are nervous about being in a public place, we respect and support your decision to stay home. When you are ready to come back and volunteer, our doors will always be open to you.

This is a dynamic and fast-moving situation. We are regularly monitoring updates from the Clark County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) as well as twice weekly phone meetings conferences with public providers. We respect and follow recommendations by experts in the field.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, please contact Diane McWithey, Executive Director, dmcwithey@sharevancouver.org or Amy Reynolds, Deputy Director, areynolds@sharevancouver.org.

Additional articles in the 2020 Spring edition include: Lincoln Place Celebrates 4th Anniversary with 1-year, 100% Retention; Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Young; Every28Days: Because Feminine Hygiene Products Should Not Be a Privilege; The Show Will Go On — Gala Postponed to Aug. 8; Welcoming Clients Home, One Basket at a Time; Clients Move Into Permanent Supportive Housing; “Harry Potter & the Cauldron of Soup” Soup’s On! October 25; Distance Socially, Eat Locally; Support Our Appeal for Meals, June 1 to 7

Download a PDF version of the 2020 Spring Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Holiday Edition

Talkin’ Trash Program Honored with Innovation Award + Grant for a New Truck

Share’s Talkin’ Trash program has a fun name, a cute mascot and continues to be recognized by our community as both an innovative and successful initiative.

In September, we were honored to be recognized by the Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington for ‘Excellence in Innovation’ for our Talkin’ Trash program. Jillian Daleiden, Share Outreach Director, accepted the award and talked about the program which provides wages & benefits while participants—who are homeless or who have been homeless—work toward housing. Plus it cleans up our community: 146 tons of trash picked up in 2018!

For those unfamiliar with the program, its crew includes six community cleaners, on-call cleaners, and one supervisor, each of whom has formerly or is currently experiencing homelessness. The crew works 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday cleaning up litter and waste throughout the City. Community Cleaners also receive housing search assistance, general case management, and job and life skill training throughout their time in the program.

The Talkin’ Trash program gets an additional boost from volunteers who have come out for Neighborhood Clean-ups, the most recent on November 16. Along with dozens of community volunteers, we cleaned up areas in Harney Heights, Fourth Plain Village, and Rose Village neighborhoods. More neighborhood cleanups will be scheduled in 2020—follow us on facebook.com/ShareVancouver for those dates.
And there’s more good news: The Firstenburg Foundation recently awarded Share a $55,000 grant to purchase a new truck for the Talkin’ Trash program.

“Our new truck will not only ensure the continued success of the Talkin’ Trash program, but will increase the program’s efficiency and expand it to serve other areas of Vancouver,” said Diane McWithey, executive director. A 2019 2500 Tradesman Dodge Ram pickup with an eight-foot-long bed has been purchased. With this larger truck bed, the Talkin’s Trash crew members will be able to transport more trash in fewer trips, which will allow for additional time to operate in more areas each day and service locations that have been on a waitlist to participate in the program. The extended cab will also allow more crew members to travel together to sites.

The Talkin’ Trash program previously drove a used half-ton, short-bed pickup purchased from the City of Vancouver. Truck repairs of more than $6,000 had become too extensive and costly to continue the program’s operation without a new vehicle.

Additional articles in the 2019 Holiday edition include: Hungry Neighbors Need Your Help, Volunteer of the Year: Marc Veneroso, Rapid Rehousing Success for Local Family, Save the Date: Share’s Annual Gala on April 25, Save the Date: Harry Potter & the Cauldron of Soup on Oct. 11, and more!

Download a PDF version of the Holiday 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Fall Edition

How do you apply for a job or fill out a rental application without a photo ID?

Having a valid piece of identification (ID) is a necessity that many of us take for granted. For many adults, the responsibilities of renewing one’s driver’s license or filling in a Social Security number for a job application are often overlooked as some of the many minuscule chores they must do as an integrated member of society.

“A lack of ID and the difficulty in obtaining ID is truly an issue for our clients that we see each day at the Share Day Center,” said Jillian Daleiden, director of Share Outreach.

So, what are you supposed to do if you’re among the estimated millions of U.S. citizens* who don’t have a photo ID issued by a state, or other proof of your identity, such as a birth certificate?

Several systemic barriers often prevent these individuals from having a valid ID. Without a stable place to call “home,” someone who is
experiencing homelessness faces obstacles both in obtaining and keeping ID safe. A person may not have the means to complete forms such as birth certificates for several reasons, such as not having the necessary parental information, difficulties with reading and writing, or the transportation necessary to travel to the local office of the department of motor vehicles. Money may also be a barrier; in the state of Washington, there is a $54 fee to replace a state-issued ID card.

And for those frequently moving from one location to the next, there may not be the social connections to obtain a guarantor necessary to vouch for their identity. Moreover, even if they do get through this process, there is the additional issue of not having a permanent address where their ID can be mailed to them.

“Being homeless is tough enough. Being homeless without ID is sometimes an insurmountable situation. Our clients must face a system that can be intimidating and difficult,” said Katie Louis, director of Share House.

If you lose any or all three of these A-list pieces of ID—birth certificate, Social Security card or driver’s license—getting them back is a circular problem; you often need one of more of these documents in order to replace the other. The fight against identity theft and illegal immigration are two drivers behind tightening regulations that make getting ID, or replacing it, difficult. “We’re a society that not only depends on but demands you prove who you are,” says Katie. The invisibility that results from not being able to verify one’s identity can lead to barriers in accessing crucial services, such as the health care system.

A lack of ID is a symptom rather than a cause of homelessness. In other words, conditions of homelessness such as lacking secure housing and not having a job and dealing with the everyday realities of extreme poverty, make it difficult to keep and obtain pieces of ID.

There is some good news in the state of Washington. A measure in the state Legislature, Senate Bill 5664, aims to eliminate barriers to ID for homeless people. If passed, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Licensing would be required to create a program to provide homeless individuals with a free ID card, also known as the identicard.

To be eligible for this free card, applicants would have to meet the definition of a sheltered or unsheltered homeless person, reside in Washington state and not have a valid state-issued identicard or driver’s license.

* A 2006 national survey conducted by the Brennan Center found that as many as 11% of American, or more than 21 million people, don’t have a government-issues photo ID, with elderly, minority populations or low-income individuals being least likely to possess ID.

Download a PDF version of the Fall 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Summer Edition

Day Center Builds on Success at the Vancouver Navigation Center

The Share Day Center has now been open for six months in its new location at the Vancouver Navigation Center. Services offered are client-centered and based on participants’ goals, which increases chances for long-term success. Day Center staff utilize techniques such as trauma informed care, harm reduction, assertive engagement, motivational interviewing and strength-based practice to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all and to help participants meet their goals and improve their lives.

Since last November, 1,303 people accessed the Day Center:
64* people obtained housing, 39* people obtained employment, 1,077 people accessed shower and/or laundry facilities, and 389 people accessed case management or housing navigation

Alarmingly, Share is increasingly serving a new population at the Day Center: our senior citizens. Many of these men and women live on a fixed income with expenses that continue to rise. These individuals should be enjoying their golden years in the comfort of home but are now facing a shocking reality: homelessness. Once such individual was Julie.

When 84-year-old Julie+ visited Share’s Day Center, she was newly homeless and had run out of options. The owner of the apartment complex in which she lived had sold the property and notified residents that they would have to move. Julie had limited financial resources, faced continuously rising expenses and had no family or support system in the area for assistance. When the day came to vacate her apartment, Julie checked into a motel and stayed as long as she could, maxing out all of her credit cards.

Julie was confronted with the reality of sleeping on the streets when she heard about the Day Center. She met with our Housing Navigator, Mike, who put together a housing search plan for her. Within two days, Mike had arranged a meeting for Julie and a landlord with a room to rent. The meeting was successful, and she was approved to move in. Click the link below to read more about Julie’s story and how our Housing Navigators are helping people move into housing.

Download a PDF version of the Summer 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Spring Edition

Rent Well: Self-awareness, Self-advocacy & Educational Empowerment

Affordable housing continues to be a crisis in our community. Last year, rents in Vancouver increased 1.7 percent. Vancouver’s median one-bedroom rent is currently $1,400 per month and a median two-bedroom rent is $1,650; both numbers are higher than in comparable cities nationwide.

However, rising rents are not the only barrier facing individuals and families in search of housing. For those who have experienced homelessness, they may have added barriers including low-income, substance abuse, criminal records, mental illness, foreclosure and past evictions. But there is good news and it’s called the Rent Well Program, a 15-hour tenant education program taught by certified instructors in Oregon and Washington.

The course is typically taught in three to six weeks and covers key information and skills for becoming a responsible, successful, and stable tenant. Since Share began overseeing the Rent Well program in Clark County in 2011, 1,279 people have graduated.

“One of the most powerful outcomes of the Rent Well class is something that can be experienced and not necessarily measured. The increased self-awareness, self-advocacy and educational empowerment that can be felt in the classroom is life-changing for our students and our community as a whole,” shared Jennifer Mitchell, Tenant Education Coordinator. “The Rent Well class is crucial in continuing to educate our community members, especially those with housing barriers, on their rights and responsibilities as tenants. This increased knowledge empowers people to overcome these housing barriers and continue to push for policy and law changes allowing for individuals and families to access safe and affordable housing.”

In 2018 alone, 87 people graduated. Regarding those graduation statistics, Jennifer added: “Two of the 2018 graduates who attempted the class could not initially complete it, but came back later in the year to graduate, which I believe speaks to how beneficial students view the class.”

Participants can also create a personalized Housing Portfolio tailored to their housing needs and have access to the Landlord Incentive Fund upon course graduation. This fund can be used as an extra incentive for landlords to rent to individuals. Click the link below to learn more about the Rent Well program.

Download a PDF version of the Spring 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Holiday 2018 Edition

Share Welcomes Becci Read-Ryan as New Hunger Response Assistant Director

Becci shares her enthusiasm for her job and how our Backpack Program and Fresh Food Pantries are truly making a difference in the community:

I have a passion for providing nutrition education and food access to underserved populations. My job has been challenging and incredibly rewarding since I started in August. The first two weeks on the job, I organized an emergency mobile pantry for Evergreen and Vancouver school districts to fill the need for food while schools were unexpectedly closed.

After that, I dove headfirst into making connections with schools and figuring out how the Backpack Program and Fresh Food Pantries worked. It’s amazing how a simple bag of food positively impacts students’ and families’ ability to function and reduces stress in their life because now they have food they can count on. They know that they will get food on Fridays, and they don’t have to worry about not having anything to feed their children over the weekend. I am excited to continue growing these programs, and hope that I can provide nutritious food to low-income families throughout Clark County in a way that is accessible for them.

One of our fabulous Family & Community Resource Counselors, Jennifer Beeks, recently shared two heart-warming stories from Orchards Elementary School:

Josefina is so thankful for the food support she receives as a participating family in our Backpack Program. Her family of six truly appreciates the additional meals to help extend their family food budget.  In fact, the kids love the macaroni and cheese so much that they all wanted to have a picture taken with it. Josefina shared, “I am so grateful for this program and know that without it my kids would not have as much nutritious food to eat.” Click the link below to learn more about our Fresh Food Pantries.

Download a PDF version of the Holiday 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Fall 2018 Edition

Housing Navigators: Making a Difference

Share has added a new position that has made a dramatic increase in the number of clients being housed. A Housing Navigator engages and motivates those experiencing homelessness by linking them with housing opportunities, developing budgets, completing applications and advocating with local landlords. In just one month, our Share House Housing Navigator, Gavin Rose, recently moved 30% of the Share House residents into housing.

Otha Common is top of mind when considering clients who have benefitted from a partnership with Share’s Housing Navigators. When asked if we could share his journey with others, he readily agreed. His only request was, “Don’t forget to talk about Gavin, he’s awesome. A heaven sent for me. He got me a place and did it quickly.”

Staff first met Otha at Share House while he was eating at the Hot Meals program. He had the biggest, most welcoming smile and the most infectious laugh. Otha grew up in Chicago and used boxing as a way to keep off the streets and stay out of trouble. He often shared stories about his days as an AAU boxer, and professional boxing career. Otha would visit with some of the clients in the area and was always willing to give rides and support to people when they were in need. At the time, Otha was employed building homes. But he injured his knee and spent a long time pursuing a worker’s compensation claim to get his knee repaired. After the injury, his health rapidly declined, in part due to his living conditions. He was unable to work and lost his home. He lived in his car for a while and eventually couldn’t keep up with the cost and lost it, too.

His earlier acts of kindness were rewarded. Upon learning Otha had lost his car and was having to sleep on the street, one of his friends let us know. The program director reached out to Otha to talk about his options and he entered shelter in 2016. Click the link below to read the entire story of Otha’s successful in securing housing.

Download a PDF version of the Fall 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Summer 2018 Edition

June, July & August = Summer Meals!

It’s summer time and that means our Summer Meals Program is kicking into high gear! Our program strives to provide fresh, nutritious meals that include fruit and vegetables so that children in our communities do not face hunger during the summer months.

“When children go hungry, their basic needs aren’t being met and then they can’t reach higher goals and aspirations,” said Katie Dwailebee, hunger response assistant director. “If children don’t have enough nutritious food, they not only suffer physically, but they also face a lifetime effort to move beyond that basic struggle to survive towards being able to thrive.

This year’s program will serve meals at 22 locations, including apartment complexes, local schools, Police Activities League (PAL) camps, Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation camps, as well as local churches and partner organizations.

All of the locations are open sites and all children ages 18 and under are welcome to come and enjoy a free meal even if they are not enrolled in the site’s program or camp. The program is part of the Simplified Summer Feeding Program, funded by the USDA. Visit sharevancouver.org for a complete list of site locations, dates and times during which meals will be served.

Download a PDF version of the Summer 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter

Sharing Lives: Spring 2018 Edition

Community Rallies for #every28days

The second annual #every28days was a huge success, resulting in 16 pallets of feminine hygiene products in our warehouse! Thank you to Garage Bar & Grille and Mill Creek Pub for hosting events on Feb. 28, as well as the more than 20 businesses* that had collection bins leading up to the event. A special thanks to Lisa Goodrich, this year’s event chair, as well as to Dianna Kretzschmar, who organized the inaugural event last year. To everyone in our community who donated so generously—thank you! We’ll be working with local nonprofits who serve women and girls in need to help get these donations to those who need them.

Our own Kim Hash, director of development and communications, attended the event and shared this: “Tons of wonderful feminine hygiene products being donated tonight for the girls and women of our community. And what a wonderful community we have! It astounds me how many people care and come out to show it! Thanks to all who are involved in this great effort this year! It takes a village!

Women experiencing homelessness have resources to connect them to a safe place to sleep or a hot meal to eat. But when it comes to taking care of their feminine hygiene needs, they often have nowhere to turn. Tampons and sanitary pads top the list of needs at shelters, as supporters don’t often think to donate them. Compounding the issue is the fact that feminine hygiene items cannot be purchased with food stamps, public showers are scarce and poor hygiene during menstruation can lead to infections.

While our warehouse is full today, feminine hygiene products are always needed and can be dropped off at the Share Fromhold Service Center.

* Thank you for supporting #every28days! Innovative Services NW, Prosecuting Attorneys Office, A Dogs Best Friend, Salmon Creek Plastic Surgery, Vancouver Chambers of Commerce, The Quarry, Almea Insurance, PeaceHealth: PHSW Campus, Glenwood Place, Whole Foods, American Family Insurance, Filbin’s Hardware, Ameriprise, Barre3 (119th St.), Divine Consign, GLAMbeauty bar, Morton’s Stoves, Riverview Bank (Battle Ground) and Dapper D’s.

Download a PDF version of the Spring 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter