Help needed to open severe weather shelter

Volunteer trainings planned this month

As the city of Washougal prepares to open a severe weather shelter for the homeless — when there is a forecast of 30 degrees or colder — there will need to be more volunteers available.

Representatives from the city, as well as the Council for the Homeless, Camas-Washougal Fire Department, Washougal Police Department and St. Matthew Lutheran Church met Dec. 28 to determine if a severe weather overnight shelter could be opened in the Washougal Community Center.

St. Matthew’s Pastor Bob Barber said there should be a minimum of three volunteers, two men and one woman, on shift, and an ideal shift would be three hours.

Training for interested volunteers will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 8 and repeated on Monday, Jan. 15, at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 12513 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Rachael Ashmore, a woman who has been homeless since 2014, said an overnight shelter would be helpful.

“I would love to come in and lie down,” she said, Dec. 29, after eating a Refuel Washougal free dinner in the Washougal Community Center.

Ashmore moved from Arizona to Washougal more than 10 years ago. She sleeps under awnings in Washougal.

A homeless man who has lived all of his 32 years in the Camas-Washougal area said he also would appreciate going to an overnight shelter during the cold weather.

“Tom,” who declined to provide his real name, said he has several injuries that act up in the cold weather.

“I’d be able to sleep,” he said, regarding an overnight shelter.

Tom recently stayed six days at the Rama Inn, in Washougal, after a couple saw him on the street and paid for his stay there, three days at a time.

He has been homeless for four and a half years, for reasons he would not disclose. Tom said he has eaten the Refuel Washougal dinners “quite a few times.”

“I fully appreciate the meals,” he said. “These people are taking time out of their personal lives.”

Volunteers provide free dinners to anyone in need, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Fridays, in the Washougal Community Center.

Those interested in volunteering at the overnight shelter should contact Barber at 360-835-5533 or rbarber626@gmail.com.