Local non-profit Love Abounds Here, which aims to provide resources and services to homeless individuals in Yelm and surrounding areas, stepped up to help during January’s winter freeze in Washington.
The organization sheltered 14 individuals between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17 at a Lacey-based hotel so they could get out of the freezing temperatures in mid-January, which reached as low as 12 degrees, including on Sunday, Jan. 14.
“Love Abounds Here works day in and day out with volunteers and working board members that talk to these clients often. Staying in touch with them is the best way to make sure they have what they need, which is why we were created,” member Ashley Lea Brooks said. “These people that we help, these 14 people we put in hotels, they are our neighbors. They are longtime Yelm residents. What we really want is for these individuals to have their basic necessities to live their everyday life, just like you and I.”
During their stay, the people needing support received breakfast in the hotel lobby, as well as additional meals provided by the Prairie Christian Center and First Baptist Church. DC’s Treasures, a Yelm-based thrift store, also played a huge role by providing shoes, socks, jackets and more, Brooks said.
“Transportation was the most difficult part of this because we had to get so many of them to Lacey. We had volunteers for that, and we vanned them to this space. It was not easy,” Brooks said. “One of the van’s tires eventually became flat, and I had to step in and drive them to the hotel. I put a couple of them in my car with their belongings to check in at the hotel.”
Following the stay at the hotel in Lacey, Brooks said the homeless individuals will continue to stay in contact with Love Abounds Here throughout the year. After working with the organization, the individuals are entered in a database where the non-profit can keep track of them and how they’re doing.
“We get them in a database and we understand their needs, where they’re at, and collectively we put together immediate resources to get them housing,” Brooks said. “A lot of us have an idea of what a houseless person looks like. It could be the man on the corner right now at Safeway with the accordion. I’m sure you’ve seen him before. Or the gentleman with the face tattoo that’s been in Yelm for years. But it’s important to know there’s an influx of women becoming homeless. Some are escaping domestic violence and can’t get into housing. It’s important that we can come up and create solutions as a community and as a city.”
In addition to providing 14 homeless individuals with shelter during the January freeze, Love Abounds Here also provided gasoline to people living in their cars in Yelm and surrounding Areas.
In a Facebook post dated Jan. 21, Love Abounds Here thanked the Community Foundation in Olympia and Nisqually Indian Tribe for their financial support in housing these individuals. The organization also thanked Prairie Christian Church and First Baptist Church for providing meals during this period. Volunteers Deb Larson, Jodie Dawes, Suzie Quigg LeFurgey, Christal Bauer and Brooks were also thanked for their help.
While Love Abounds Here combatted one aspect of homelessness by providing shelter and meals during the freeze, Brooks noted homeless individuals still experience day-to-day challenges.
“Yelm is so good at providing meals throughout the week. We have not yet identified a place where they can take a shower in our city or the surrounding areas. There’s no place for them to keep up with their hygiene,” Brooks said. “It’s important to note there’s no emergency shelter in our city and surrounding areas — Yelm, Rainier, Roy,and McKenna. During the day, they’re offered the library and the senior center, but overnight, when it’s the worst time of the day, when it’s more likely they’ll freeze to death, there’s no help for them.”