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home : current news : current news July 22, 2018

10/24/2017 1:01:00 PM
Cold weather shelter set to open
Linda Wolff (left) and Ronni Duff help new volunteers for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter sign up to serve. photo by Sue Stafford
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Linda Wolff (left) and Ronni Duff help new volunteers for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter sign up to serve.

photo by Sue Stafford

By Sue Stafford

There will be a pre-opening training on Tuesday, November 7, 6 p.m., at Westside Church, 442 Trinity Way, for people planning to volunteer for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter this winter.

All past and present volunteers who haven't attended training for this upcoming season are encouraged to attend. New volunteers must complete a background check before being able to serve as shelter monitors. No other volunteers are required to complete a background check.

The Sisters Cold Weather Shelter (SCWS) opened for the first time last January and successfully served 41 adults and three children over three months, providing 860 bed nights, hot dinners, and breakfasts.

The SCWS is a partnership of Sisters-area churches, civic organizations, nonprofits and concerned citizens, working in collaboration to provide shelter and meet basic needs of those without permanent housing in Sisters. They provide shelter on dangerously cold nights from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Volunteers work in pairs to help create a secure, safe, and non-judgmental environment for guests.

The SCWS steering committee, headed by co-chairs Lois Kaping and Ron Gregg, has been working through the summer to plan for the cold months ahead. Three churches so far have committed to providing shelter this winter, beginning November 15 and running through March 15. Westside Sisters Church, Sisters Community Church, and Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration have agreed to again host the shelter. The shelter capacity is determined by the fire marshal, with most locations able to house 25 guests.

Services provided to shelter guests include sleeping mats and bedding, storage bins, hot dinners and light breakfasts with snacks to go, hygiene items, donated clothing, and access to employment support and community services. Activities offered at the shelter include meals, movies, puzzles, cards, conversation, and community.

Through the work of Dawn James-Cooper of the Sisters Family Access Network (FAN), a number of outcomes have helped shelter guests to improve their situation including: obtained birth certificate; applied for employment; began work; obtained Oregon State I.D.; received food benefits; received OHP medical insurance; applied for housing; obtained permanent housing/shelter; and connected to legal services.

There are many ways to help support the shelter. Organizations with a facility can be a host site for a month. Individuals or groups can sign up to bring dinner or breakfast. Individuals can sign up to serve as a shelter monitor for the 5 p.m. to midnight shift (background check required). The advisory committee can always use people willing to volunteer for a variety of duties besides monitoring or providing meals.

Donations of supplies to be used by the shelter or guests can be dropped off at Westside Church starting on November 9 during church office hours, Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. The Habitat ReStore can take donations of equipment such as tents, tarps, and larger items. Please do not take donations to the FAN office.

Needed items include: twin-size bedding; storage bins; Tracfone minute gift cards for shelter phone; movies, DVDs, puzzles and cards; disposable silverware, plates, coffee cups; toilet paper and paper towels; coffee, tea, hot chocolate and creamer; snacks to go such as granola/protein bars, yogurt, fruit, etc.; hand-warmers; toiletries; jackets, boots, wool socks, hats and gloves for cold weather; camping equipment; and propane


Monetary donations help pay for shelter expenses, which primarily include compensating the contracted night shift (midnight to 7 a.m.). It costs a little over $200 each night the shelter is open. To make a donation online visit www.shepherdshouse or a check may be mailed to Shepherd's House Ministries, PO Box 5484, Bend, OR 97708. Make sure to mark the donation for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter. Shepherd's House is working with the shelter again this year, acting as their fiscal agent and partner.

The shelter has a page on Facebook - Sisters Cold Weather Shelter - and a SCWS page on For information about volunteering contact Ronni Duff at For other information email

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