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Reach Out homeless shelter returns under new management

Reach Out volunteers prepare food to serve to homeless men staying at the shelter this past winter. Local churches and volunteers will continue to play an essential role in helping the men next winter when the shelter reopens under new management by the Catholic Community Services. - Courtesy photo
Reach Out volunteers prepare food to serve to homeless men staying at the shelter this past winter. Local churches and volunteers will continue to play an essential role in helping the men next winter when the shelter reopens under new management by the Catholic Community Services.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Federal Way's only homeless men's overnight shelter will reopen next winter under new management.

Reach Out launched in 2008. It provides a place for men to escape the cold, sleep overnight and eat a meal before heading back out to the streets. Case management, including assistance finding a job or learning job skills, is also offered to the men.

Since opening, Reach Out has operated with the help of Federal Way's Multi-Service Center. Beginning July 1, the shelter will switch hands and be operated under Catholic Community Services (CCS). It will continue to serve Federal Way's homeless men during the winter season, from November to March annually.

"CCS is excited to enter into this partnership with the Reach Out shelter. The commitment of the Federal Way church community and the hundreds of volunteers who serve at the shelter are a great gift to the homeless men who have been helped there," said Bill Hallerman, agency director of CCS King County.

The Multi-Service Center unexpectedly stepped forward two years ago when Reach Out coordinators were struggling to put the shelter program together. Reach Out desperately needed a non-profit sponsor and partner capable of offering case management. Shelter coordinators are grateful to the center and its staff, Reach Out coordinator Nancy Jaenicke said.

"Multi-Service Center was delighted to lend our support in launching this much-needed shelter in Federal Way, particularly during the coldest winter on record a couple of years ago," Multi-Service Center CEO Dini Duclos said in a prepared statement. "Reach Out shelter will be in good, competent hands with CCS because they run other similar shelters."

Catholic Community Services manages homeless shelters in Kent and Renton, among others. When Federal Way leaders began their quest to launch Reach Out a few years back, they reviewed CCS sheltering models in the South Sound for guidance.

CCS will take over general management of the Reach Out shelter. It will undertake the screening, overnight supervision and case management of the men served by the shelter. It will also work to expand and leverage resources. The shelter will continue to serve the local homeless population.

"CCS is very determined to keep this a local presence," Jaenicke said.

Reach Out will also continue to rely on local churches and volunteers. For the past two seasons, more than 12 churches have offered their space and time to shelter and feed the men. More than 14 local businesses, churches and civic clubs have regularly sponsored the shelter by donating time and money to keep the facility going.

Reach Out has helped several homeless men get off the streets. This past winter, 24 of the 44 men sheltered during the winter season were able to get into a more permanent form of housing. Two men found out-of-state employment and reconnected with family members. A total of 33 homeless veterans were served by Reach Out in winter 2009.

"We couldn't do it without the Federal Way community supporting us," Jaenicke said.

Get involved

Donations for next season are needed and can be sent to: Reach Out, P.O. Box 24613, Federal Way, WA 98093-1613. Questions can be directed to Nancy Jaenicke, Reach Out coordinator, (253) 927-5548. Interested volunteers should also contact Jaenicke. Learn more about Reach Out at www.reachout-fw.com.

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