Celebrating 21 Years of Compassion: The WHO Continues to Provide Hope and Shelter for Those in Need

The Winter Hospitality Overflow (WHO) is an overflow shelter providing additional capacity for individuals and families in our community who are currently experiencing homelessness and need to get in from the outside on any given night during the coldest months, from November 1 to March 31. The WHO operates at St. Paul Lutheran for single men (24 beds) and St. Andrew Lutheran for families (50 beds). Entry to the WHO is managed by the Council for the Homeless. The first step for people needing shelter is to call the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline: 360-695-9677. The WHO is an interfaith and community-supported program where guests are offered a warm place to sleep, a hot shower, a meal, and the welcome and warmth of a caring community working to address the most basic human needs.

If you need assistance from November 1 to March 30, call the Housing Hotline at (360) 695-9677, Monday to Friday, between 9 am to 5 pm and on weekends from 11 am to 2 pm.

Support the WHO!

Although we are a volunteer-driven program, WHO incurs expenses for utilities, groceries, volunteer training materials, and salaries for professional case management staff. You can help with a tax-deductible donation to WHO. Just $28 meets our weekly costs for one guest. Gifts small or large truly make a difference. Thank you for your support of this vital ministry.

To access WHO beds

If you need access to an WHO bed, please contact the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline: 360-695-9677.

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Re-Imagining: Volunteers at WHO St. Paul Men’s Shelter:Do you remember the old days of volunteering at WHO St. Paul Men’s Shelter? We volunteers did everything: supervised chores by our guys, cleaned, did laundry, served meals, enforced rules… And nodded politely to Share’s professional caseworker staff when they came in to meet with the guys, and when they left.But the world has changed. In the spring of 2020, St. Paul received an Affordable Housing grant from the City of Vancouver to keep the shelter open through the summer months. St. Paul contracted with a then-small start-up non-profit, Outsiders Inn, to staff and manage the new “Outsiders Inn at St. Paul” from April through October 2020. The plan was that WHO St. Paul would go back to its normal volunteer-driven service in the fall of 2020.But in the fall of 2020, COVID meant that for WHO, it became much harder to recruit volunteers. Share provided increased client care overnight services at WHO St. Andrew. At WHO St. Paul, Outsiders Inn obtained new government and ELCA funding and continued to staff and manage the shelter. Volunteers have continued to provide most of the meals, but it has been difficult to figure out where non-staff volunteers fit in.Since the beginning of the 2023 WHO season, we at St. Paul have been considering the best ways to call in-person volunteers back in. The first step, for a few months now, has been major efforts by Sue Meyer from Congregation Kol Ami to identify and coordinate all of the online volunteer sign-up websites at WHO, St. Paul, Council for the Homeless, the LDS JustServe site, and The Columbian’s publication of these links. That work is done.So now we come to the part that requires long-term vision, and imagination.What should volunteers physically do, when there are full-time professional staff present, doing what volunteers used to do? How can volunteers be of most help to the guys, when all of the Outisders Inn professional staff has lived experience of homelessness, but volunteers mostly do not?What will be the long-term impact on the WHO program if we fail to continue to involve community volunteers in ways that have significant interaction with our guests?We at St. Paul plan to schedule meetings for discussion of these issues with Outsiders Inn and their volunteer coordinator in early January. Do you have ideas? Additional questions? Would you like to be involved in the discussions? Please contact Pastor Linda Marousek at lmarousek@comcast.net, or Sue Meyer at suemeyer18@gmail.com. We’d love to have your input. ... See MoreSee Less
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