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Reach Out prepares to open winter shelter for women
A local charity that helps homeless men every winter is about to open the region’s first winter shelter for women.
Program coordinator Nancy Jaenicke said Reach Out Federal Way hopes to have the women’s shelter program up and running before the end of the month, or early next year. Reach Out’s information coordinator, Laurie Fiorito, said the women’s shelter program should be operational sometime between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.
According to Jaenicke, another homeless shelter was recently shut down in Seattle, and the only other shelter available to women has a strict timeline of being open for 90 days. That shelter, she said, houses nine women as well, and on average, turns away about 40 other women a month from its doors. She said this highlights the need for more programs, a need Reach Out is hoping to fill.
The Federal Way City Council makes an effort each month to honor a local volunteer group, and bestowed December’s recognition on Reach Out Federal Way. Jaenicke was on hand to give thanks for the recognition during the council’s Dec. 6 meeting. She shared what her and a cadre of other community groups have been able to achieve so far — and hope to achieve in the future.
“We thank all of you…for three times funding our homeless men winter shelter program, through your human services general fund and CDBG grant,” Jaenicke said. “We are happy to announce the next round of applications will include a request to also help fund a homeless women’s shelter, also here in Federal Way.”
Jaenicke shared Reach Out’s progress on providing shelter to local homeless women, 83 percent of whom are victims of domestic violence, according to one study from Catholic Community Services.
“Through the grace of God and many caring Federal Way community members, we have raised enough money, to date, to also open a homeless women’s shelter as quickly as possible. We’re truly excited about this program, which will not only shelter up to nine women for three months, but we have plans to shelter them longer next winter,” Jaenicke said.
Jaenicke said Reach Out’s success comes from strong partnerships within the community, especially with community churches — 23 of which offer their buildings to currently house the men who are helped by the program.
The Reach Out director touched on some of the successes the program has seen in its four years.
“So far, including this November, we’ve served 166 clients,” she said, noting that last winter, “over 21 received some form of housing and seven got jobs.”
Reach Out needs approximately $10,000 a month per program (for men and women) to continue to provide the services, Jaenicke said. While that may seem like a high figure, the community has stepped up in a big way to help assist people who need the help.
“Over $203,000 of in-kind donations, of time, resources. Over 6,300 hours have been donated by the community and members of these churches. The members of the community actually donated over $67,000 worth of food. It’s remarkable how this community has stepped up,” Jaenicke said.
Outside of that, Reach Out had to do some number crunching recently as part of a grant application, Jaenicke said. As part of that, they discovered the costs for the program is approximately $22 per person per day. Comparatively, Reach Out gets a lot of bang for its buck because:
• The one-day cost for someone to be in a local jail is $95 per person
• A one-day stay in a psychiatric hospital is $550
• A Federal Way hotel is approximately $35-$40 per person
“We can all be very proud of this caring Federal Way community, who truly reach out to help others,” Jaenicke said.
For more information on Reach Out Federal Way, visit www.reachoutfederalway.org.