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

‘Sharing Lives’: 2017 Holiday Edition

Mandi Carsey and Officer Tyler Chavers Honored at Soup’s On Event

This year’s Soup’s On event included the presentation of: the 2017 Emily Marshall Volunteer of the Year Award to Mandi Carsey and the 2017 Community Partnership Award to Office Tyler Chavers.

Mandi is our volunteer ‘Backpack Manager’ and has been participating in that program for more than six years. Each week, she dons her hot pink safety vest and takes the lead on ensuring that bags of food are loaded correctly into the cars of volunteer delivery drivers. Fellow volunteer Ted Powell said this in his nomination of Mandy: “She can multi-task and anticipate to keep the bags and food flowing at a fast pace. She does this with the accuracy needed to make sure we don’t waste food and, more importantly, that we provide a backpack to a student in need of a meal.”

Upon receiving the award, Mandi said, “I was trying to find something to do with my kids, because I thought it was important to get involved in the community.”

Officer Chavers is the person whom our clients know best: he is the most likely to know their names, their stories, and often engages them in conversation even when there is not a crisis. He is the one that reaches out to our staff when there are people living on the street who the police believe to be highly vulnerable and in need of services. He treats people from all walks of life with compassion and respect, even when they may struggle to do the same.

After accepting his award, Officer Chavers shared, “Every individual in the room, all of you are community and you are all my examples of putting a human face on suffering and not wishing that someone else would do something, but actually doing something.”

Download a PDF version of the Holiday 2017 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter