[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff.]
Dear Burien City Councilmembers,
My name is Ann Ott and I volunteer at the Severe Weather Shelter. I am not a church member and don’t know very many people there other than those I’ve met volunteering, but I heard they needed help and I’ve been available to do that on several occasions. Much of my family has also volunteered there.
I have to say I am really impressed with the effort it takes to do this – a lot of food, as well as clothing and an impressive amount of labor donated by so many people and businesses. The guests who stay seem to like and respect the church and its employees. It was humbling that so many said “Thanks!”, or “Thanks for all you do” to me as I was re-stocking food stations and so forth.
But this letter is to talk about the proposed Day Center, which I also hope to volunteer for when it opens. The Day Center differs from the Severe Weather Shelter not only in that it is open during the day with limited hours, but also in that it intends to provide much needed services to help people of Burien to transition from homelessness to finding stable housing and employment opportunities. The Day Center intends to help guests with resume writing, job training, case management and other needed services. As such it goes beyond the SWS’s mission of keeping people safe from the elements, which, as helpful as that is, cannot provide the sorts of services the Day Center can.
Some councilmembers have criticized the unhoused for not accepting available services in the past and as such don’t see the need to support additional efforts such as the Day Center. I don’t agree with that approach. Taking away any services now just narrows the options and makes it harder for the unhoused to grow out of their situation and into a place where they eventually will need less help.
Please consider this and help create a safe, educational, and social-services-oriented place and resource so ultimately, we can see fewer homeless people on the streets.
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