John Winter is among the local individuals who receive food and information at the East County Family Resource Center.
Winter, a Washougal resident for 25 years, is a general contractor and ironworker on disability. He recently visited the resource center, located at 1702 “C” St., in downtown Washougal, to ask about receiving a Christmas food box.
Winter, 61, picked up a loaf of bread at the center, leaving one loaf behind on the almost-bare shelves.
“I get a food bag here occasionally,” he said.
Winter also visits the resource center to ask questions for his neighbors.
“They are shy,” he said. “Other people can’t help themselves.”
Winter credits Rene Law, the administration specialist at the center, for her ability to access information online regarding resources for limited income senior citizens.
Another recent visitor to the resource center is a former participant in the Community Services NW youth chemical dependency program.
The young mother, who declined to provide her name, was at the center to receive food for her baby daughter through the SeaMar Women, Infant Children Program.
“The [drug or alcohol] treatment helped me a lot,” she said.
According to statistics provided by the resource center, 641 local women and children receive services each month through the WIC program. SeaMar staff also provide maternity support services and counseling.
The Children’s Home Society of Washington, the lead agency of the resource center, provides an emergency food pantry, a weekend survival backpack food program for students and children’s mental health counseling.
Parenting classes are also offered, along with “Play and Learn” weekly group meetings and “Kinship Care” support for relatives raising children. Columbia River Mental Health provides counseling for children and teens.
The resource center is a “Partners in Career” training site for single parents, and there is a networked computer lab and resource library with information and referrals. A job resources board and sales of C-TRAN bus tickets are also available at the site.
Donations of clothing, including outfits suitable for job interviews, are accepted at the center. Toys and children’s books in good shape are always welcome, according to Law.
Some of the supplies and labor at the resource center are provided by local clubs, churches, service organizations and businesses.
“We couldn’t do it with just one person out here,” Law said. “It’s really run by the community.”
The donations have included shelves for the emergency food pantry, painting services, back-to-school supplies, coats and backpack food deliveries.
Law said due to the weekend backpack program, school counselors have seen a big change in students on Mondays regarding “their ability to sit still and be ready to learn.”
The East County Family Resource Center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the available services or volunteer opportunities, call 835-7802 or visit www.chs-wa.org.