For residents of Southeast King County faced with the possibility of homelessness, opportunities for support can be few and far between. Two charitable organizations on the Enumclaw Plateau,
Plateau Outreach Ministries and Mt. Rainier Christian Center, have recognized the challenges of finding emergency assistance and are actively working together to overcome them. To help the partnership continue its good work, King County Vice Chair Reagan Dunn has given away a “retired” King County Metro Vanpool van that will assist in transporting people to the services they need.
“Homelessness is a serious issue in King County,” said Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, who represents the Enumclaw Plateau on the King County Council. “We need to support organizations like Plateau Outreach Ministries and Mt. Rainier Christian Center that work to combat homelessness in our community.”
VanPool vans slated for donation have been part of Metro Transit’s fleet for at least six years and have reached the end of their service life. When the vans reach this age, they are considered surplus. The vehicles that are not donated are sold.
The Plateau Outreach Ministries (POM) acts as an emergency response hub, connecting people in crisis to the services they need. POM focuses on basic needs: food, clothing, housing, emergency financial assistance and case management, including counseling referrals, for issues causing crises. Working in close partnership with churches like Mt. Rainier Christian Center (MRCC), POM is focused on serving the local community with programs like the Winter Shelter.
The Winter Shelter gives a warm place to stay and a hot meal to homeless individuals and/or families from the local community during cold winter nights in December, January and February. This year the shelter is completing its third season. Ten area churches and over 150 volunteers make this resource possible. With the help of the donated van, POM and MRCC will be able to continue the Winter Shelter program in addition to their ongoing, year-round work with homeless and disadvantaged individuals.
“We are very excited and thankful that our Winter Shelter program was chosen to receive a retired VanPool van. It will be a great help to have a vehicle to transport Winter Shelter guests,” said Britt Nelson Executive Director of Plateau Outreach Ministries. “The Winter Shelter program has really made a difference in the lives of our guests. Many have started jobs and are into their own apartments. The support and encouragement they receive from volunteers lasts well beyond the three winter months. Our partnership with Mount Rainier Christian Center will provide additional outreach to our community during non-shelter months. Thank you for believing in our programs and helping us help our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Mt. Rainier Christian Center, in addition to supporting the Winter Shelter, is heavily involved in feeding the homeless by participating in their Operation Sack Lunch program in Seattle, serving the disadvantaged area of the Enumclaw Plateau and by acting as one of seven host churches in the Winter Shelter program started by Plateau Outreach Ministries in Enumclaw.
“Mt. Rainier Christian Center is excited and honored to be receiving a van from the Retired Van Pool program in partnership with Plateau Outreach Ministries,” said Jim Lunde, administrator at Mt. Rainier Christian Center. “The van will be used for helping homeless in our community through the Winter Shelter program, supporting weekly feeding programs in our community and throughout King County, and for transporting kids and youth to activities throughout the year. We want to thank Metro and King County for their belief in these programs and the support it provides to so many in need.”
Since 1996, the King County Council has been donating retired vans from Metro’s Vanpool program to local nonprofit organizations to provide transportation for the disabled, low-income, young adults, and senior citizens. Governments, agencies and organizations that receive the vans must meet specific requirements.
The vanpool program provides mobility for a diverse array of King County residents, supports the positive work of various local organizations, and relieves traffic congestion by reducing the need for single-occupancy vehicles. Interested organizations can contact Councilmember Dunn at 206-477-1009 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on applying for a vehicle.
Councilmember Reagan Dunn stands with Britt Nelson (left), Director of Plateau Outreach Ministries, and Jim Lunde, Administrator at Mt. Rainier Christian Center. They are joined by representatives of area churches and organizations that partner to put on the Winter Shelter.