PORT HADLOCK — The meditation room morphed into a food pantry. And the old sanctuary, a few steps away, is an emporium of winter clothes, tents, blankets, housewares, quilts and hand-assembled hygiene kits.
This is the Community United Methodist Church (CUMC) resource center, run by county prosecutor-turned-pastor Scott Rosekrans and a flock of volunteers.
Together they open the food-clothing-camping bank for business every Saturday, moving armloads of free merchandise out the door.
“We have such fun. We know the clients pretty well; we know what they need,” said Marsha Hamacher, one of the workers who has organized a small mountain of donated and purchased clothing, from jeans to Christmas sweaters.
Across the hall in the snug food pantry are soups, tuna, pasta, personal care supplies and tiny stoves made by Jean Holtz, another volunteer. On the low-fat shelf: Spam Lite for those who need it.
The whole place is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at CUMC, 130 Church Lane, where Rosekrans is in his sixth year. He and his congregation started the food pantry-clothing bank in January as the nearby Peter’s Place tiny-home village was opening its doors.
Residents there, some of them elderly, needed basic supplies, as did people staying in Bayside Housing & Services’ transitional units at the Old Alcohol Plant.
“We’re starting to see more single women with children staying at Bayside,” Rosekrans said.
He said he recently met a mother who needed clothes for her 13-month-old, “who’s growing like a weed.”
Another young woman, moving out of transitional housing into her own apartment, “had nothing,” Rosekrans said.
She shopped the Methodist emporium for dishes and other kitchenware.
“We have some really nice clothes,” Rosekrans added, noting he and his volunteers strive to make the clothing bank as much like a shop as possible.
In a larger room at the church are sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, tents and heaters. People living outside or in their cars come in for those; on Monday afternoon, Rosekrans said, a young couple picked up some food and a foam mattress for their station wagon.
The clients who visit the church’s three-room resource center aren’t necessarily members of the Methodist congregation, although they might pop in to a Sunday service. Either way, the pastor asks no questions about religious affiliation. Rosekrans does inquire about what people need so he can refer them to agencies such as the Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP).
All of this began, he said, in the “Jesus cup,” a coffee cup Rosekrans uses to collect spare change. Soon after arrival, he’d invite anyone who came around to drop some coins in. Next thing he knew, people were pressing bills into the cup and writing checks. One visit by three men from a nearby church left him with $177.
These days, Rosekrans and his wife Teresa are contributing the funds to the Quilcene Food Bank, where she hosts the senior table, and buying new winter coats for their clothing bank. They’ve responded lately to requests for food, clothing, camping gear and hygiene supplies not just on Saturday but during the week, too.
Rosekrans encourages people in need to contact the church at [email protected] or at 360-385-1579.
Those with clothing, tents, sleeping bags and such to give are asked to describe their goods in an email to [email protected], Rosekrans said. Donors should not leave items outside the church.
“I didn’t go to seminary,” the pastor said.
Instead, much of his education came from serving as Jefferson County prosecuting attorney. Defeated in 2014 in his bid for a second term, Rosekrans decided to change careers. He took an 18-month course that would qualify him as a lay pastor, filled in at Trinity United Methodist Church in Port Townsend — and took the job with Port Hadlock’s Methodist congregation in July 2016.
“As a former elected prosecutor, I know the Tri-Area is ground zero for homelessness, unemployment, alcoholism, domestic abuse, drug abuse, and nothing’s being done,” Rosekrans said. “Everything is Port Townsend. The Tri-Area is overlooked.”
Not on his watch. The pastor ministers to his neighbors from the pulpit, from the church’s Facebook page, from the food pantry and the clothing bank. He invites other local church leaders to consider starting their own resource rooms.
Try something simple, Rosekrans advises. Your church probably has an extra room you can use to store blankets for those who’ll need them this winter.
“Our clients are such good, good people,” said Hamacher as she folded pants and shirts on Monday.
For example, one woman she knows well comes in for clothes but won’t take much.
“She’ll never take more than she can use. She’ll say, ‘I don’t need that right now. Somebody else will use it.’”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]