Port Townsend group opens hearts to the homeless

PORT TOWNSEND — When Stephen Grubal died of exposure in a city park last November, his death woke the community to a problem that had gone unresolved for years.

“I had thought about the needs in this community that were not being met, and had seen homeless people in Port Townsend,” said Raymond Novello. “When Stephen died, I realized I had thought long enough. It was time to do something.”

Novello put up flyers inviting people to a meeting at the Oracle Arts Center. Now, six weeks and two meetings later, the small group of volunteers he recruited are working hard to open a soup kitchen next month in the basement of the American Legion hall where people can get a hot meal. Organized under the name Open Hearts and Helping Hands Coalition, the group is also collecting sleeping bags, coats and other supplies to help people survive the outdoors, and looking at possible locations for temporary shelter.

Grubal, a musician and artist, was a Vietnam veteran who frequently camped out at Kah Tai Lagoon Park. His body was found lying on the park grounds covered with a plastic tarp. It was discovered on a Sunday afternoon in late November after a particularly cold night.

“My first thought was, If he had had a sleeping bag, he wouldn’t have died,” Novello said.

Novello showed a clipping about Grubal’s death to Grant Logg, a carpenter, who went to the American Legion post and ask if they could donate space for a soup kitchen.

Now Logg spends every afternoon in the basement of the hall at 209 Monroe St., painting shelves with donated paint and patching holes in the kitchen, which had fallen into disrepair. Another volunteer, Charles Landau, co-owner of Timbercraft Homes, is recruiting local contractors to enclose part of the basement to make a dining area and help upgrade plumbing and electric fixtures.

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The rest of the story appears in the Monday Peninsula Daily News. Click on SUBSCRIBE, above, to get the PDN delivered to your home or office.

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