This is a bittersweet time for the Women's Resource Center in Wenatchee.
The nonprofit is on the cusp of opening 15 homeless beds at the newly remodeled Parkside Manor to serve chronically homeless individuals, a challenging population to move into regular housing in the community. That's the sweet part. The more difficult aspect is the current financial challenge. Earlier this year, the troubled Regional Support Network suddenly cut $85,000 in funding, which blew an $85,000 hole into the budget of Bruce Transitional Housing.
The only choice for a nonprofit is to reduce services and staff in such circumstances, so they've cut some programming out and reduced staff to make ends meet.
The difficult thing for the staff, said Executive Director Phoebe Nelson, is that the need doesn't go away for those programs. It just becomes another unmet need.
Nelson stopped by for an interview last week and said our valley needs to be prepared for more homeless because of the loss of homes in the devastating Okanogan County fires. People who lacked insurance and lost homes and possessions typically move to a place where there are better job and housing opportunities
Nelson, who started her career selling radio advertising in the Yakima Valley, got acquainted with homeless issues while she was in that role, which ultimately led her to switching careers and a life of service. She is passionate about her work and expresses a profound sense of gratitude for what their clients have taught her about resilience and perseverance.
She knows something about being homeless. You see, she experienced a period of couch surfing after the breakup of a marriage years ago. Ultimately, she found the way through and rebuilt her life. And it is finding the way through that is at the heart of the mission for the Women's Resource Center.
Clients at The Bruce, as it is called, must be on the path of self sufficiency to be consider for the program. There have been amazing success stories and also situations where people have slipped back into a homeless situation.
The road out of homelessness is fraught with many obstacles and yet Nelson and her staff continually see people who refuse to give up and continue to persevere in the face of difficult odds. You can see the admiration in Nelson's face as she talks about the heroic efforts that these individuals undertake to build a normal life.
"It's why I get up in the morning," she said.
So what can we do as a community? Nelson said it's the small, consistent donations that make a difference. The big donations from philanthropists are welcomed but many small donations can make a huge difference and connect the community deeply with important work like that being done by the Women's Resource Center.
If each of us would be willing to make a small, regular contribution to a social service charity that touches our heart, we could create a stronger, more resilient community
If you would like to see my video interview with Nelson, visit wenatcheeworld.com and click on videos.