Washougal offers ‘Refuel Fridays’

Free weekly dinners will begin Jan. 2

What: Free dinners will be served.

When: Fridays, Jan. 2 through March 27, from 4 to 5 p.m.

Where: Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

Contact: Rich Blum, pastor of Bethel Community Church, at 835-8714, or visit www.cityofwashougal.us.

Complimentary Christmas dinner to be served Friday

The Meals on Wheels People Camas-Washougal is sponsoring a free dinner Friday.

Ham and mashed potatoes, with a vegetable and dessert, will be served from 4 to 5 p.m., in the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

The dinner is for all ages. There is no cost, but donations will be accepted for the Meals on Wheels program.

For more information, contact Center Manager Wanda Nelson at 210-5666.

Representatives from the city of Washougal, local non-profits, churches and the Washougal School District are involved in an effort to feed the hungry during the cold winter months.

That includes “Refuel Fridays,” which begin Jan. 2, in the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

Free dinners will be served from 4 to 5 p.m., every Friday through the end of March. Organizers will determine whether to continue the meals toward the end of the initial effort.

“This is open to all the public and serves anyone who wants to come for the meal,” said Rich Blum, pastor of Bethel Community Church.

Local churches will take turns providing the food and preparing and serving the meals.

Participating congregations include Living Purpose Church, River Rock Church, Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Bethel, Washougal United Methodist Church, New Horizons Church and Calvary Community Church.

Blum said the community effort involves concerned residents who have been meeting as part of a committee to determine how to better meet the needs in the area and work together.

“One of those needs is providing another food program for those who are hungry,” he said. “The ‘Refuel Fridays’ is the initial attempt to meet this need. We thought that adding another night to feed the hungry, in addition to what other groups are doing, through the cold winter months made sense.

“The representatives from various churches responded, but volunteers from the community-at-large are gladly welcome,” Blum added.

Robert Barber, pastor at Saint Matthew, in Washougal, said there are a lot of young adults and especially high school students who fall into the category of either homeless or under served and are hungry.

“Coming to a church is a little bit threatening or possibly just uncomfortable,” he said regarding the choice of a community center to host the meals. “A city building is a great place, because everyone is welcome there. It belongs to all of us. It’s a non-threatening environment.”

Kathy Brock has been involved in putting together “blessings bags,” which contain items such as toothbrushes pre loaded with toothpaste, hand warmers, soap, socks, bottles of water, crackers, peanut butter and packets of instant coffee and hot apple cider mix.

Funds for the first 50 bags were provided by Bethel, but financial donations and non-perishable goods, marked “Refuel Fridays,” can be delivered to the church, 1438 “B” St., or the Inter-Faith Treasure House, 91 “C” St., Washougal.

Mackenzie Kitchen, a Washougal High School student, has organized a sock, glove and hat drive, as part of her senior project. There are collection boxes in the lobby of City Hall, 1701 “C” St., and at WHS, 1201 39th St. The items will be available during the complimentary dinners.

Rose Jewell, administrative assistant to the Washougal mayor and city administrator, has served as a facilitator of the organizing committee.

“Most of the homeless resources are in Vancouver,” Jewell said. “Washougal needs something.”

The next meeting of the local committee will be held Thursday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall.