There are a lot of reasons people are homeless. Financial emergencies like job loss, medical emergencies, death or divorce and suddenly one can’t pay rent and eventually falls out of the system. There are also addiction issues that impact job performance, mental health issues or there’s also groups that prefer alternate lifestyles.
One of the many things I love about this great community, are all the resources and services available to help those in need. One of which, is St Vincent De Paul of Medford and Jackson County where they offer a breadth of services to help those who are tired, hungry, cold, and living outdoors. I sat down with Director Rich Hansen to learn more:
- Food pantry: Provides free bags of food on the last two Fridays (plastic “no cook” bags are available for those without cooking facilities)
- Dining Room: 200 hot meals/lunches served each day 6 days a week starting at 11am Mon-Sat
- Newly renovated “Urban Rest Stop” that provides showers and laundry
- School supply backpack distribution
- Dental clinics
- Holiday Meals on Thanksgiving & Christmas
- Thrift Store honoring vouchers for clothing & home furnishings
This is designed for families, so one will need to have one child with you and be drug free, including passing the drug test. The shelter includes forty-six beds, most rooms have two bunk beds with a four-person capacity, or large rooms for couples and families that can sleep up to eight.
There are also school bus stops on Hwy 99 in front of the office and they will help take the children to school. Adults are asked to leave the shelter by 10am, to go to a job or go look for one. They provide a list of who is hiring, jobs available, etc. so one will have idea of where to go and how to find a job. The goal is to find a job and make progress without the worry of expenses for food, bathrooms, laundromats, daily essentials like soap, and clothing for four-five weeks so one can re-enter society.
The largest service they offer is called Social Services, where councilors meet one-on-one with people. If one comes in with an eviction notice from a landlord or a utility shut-off notice, they will help you pay it. This service is available one time, every twenty-four months. St. Vincent De Paul also offers a Housing Program that pays rental deposit and last month’s rent for those who qualify. Councilors will also provide tents, sleeping bags, tarps, propane, candles, gloves, warm clothing, replacement IDs, toiletries, diapers, and will help cover prescription drug costs.
What makes this St. Vincent De Paul unique, is that they are an all-volunteer organization. There are no paid salaries, which means 100% of any donation goes to helping the needy. They have 300+ volunteers now, but are in need of help in the kitchen serving or prepping lunches and in the shower/laundry facilities.
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are with our everyday luxuries like a hot shower, warm blankets, FOOD, or a simple hot cup of joe. Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” If you are in need of help- please go get it. If you are looking to help serve your community-please get involved with the many wonderful programs available so we can help one another stay safe and warm this winter.
Homeless? Call 211
St. Vincent De Paul
2424 N. Pacific Hwy
Social Service office open from 10am-2pm.