Doc Robinson, executive director of Serenity House of Clallam County, on Saturday points to an artist’s rendering of the Bridges Grill and a nearby laundromat on Eighth Street in Port Angeles that are under consideration for purchase by his agency to provide services for homeless young adults. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Doc Robinson, executive director of Serenity House of Clallam County, on Saturday points to an artist’s rendering of the Bridges Grill and a nearby laundromat on Eighth Street in Port Angeles that are under consideration for purchase by his agency to provide services for homeless young adults. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Serenity House seeks donations to create shelter, center for homeless youth

Opportunity open to buy buildings

PORT ANGELES — Serenity House of Clallam County hopes to open a shelter and drop-in center for the county’s homeless youth where the teens could also gain work experience, but to do so will require help from the community.

Serenity House is being given the first chance to buy the 8th Street Bridge’s Grill, Hi-Tech Tanning, Speed Klean Laundromat and the adjacent coffee shop, all on Eighth Street in Port Angeles, but needs to raise $360,000 to do so, said Doc Robinson, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“I’ve asked all of our private donors and it’s beyond their means at this time,” he said. “He needs us to buy it sooner and money sources are looking at later, so it may not happen.”

Robinson announced the capital campaign during the Clallam Cares event Saturday. Much of the event, which was also scheduled for Friday, was rescheduled due to the storm.

Robinson said the properties are not listed yet, but said the owner would like to sell at the beginning of the year. He said Serenity House would gladly accept donations toward the project and said the agency is willing to negotiate a long-term private loan.

He said the idea is to create a night-by-night youth shelter and drop-in center and the teens could work the hamburger stand. The laundromat is a “cash cow,” Robinson said.

The hope would be to run a youth coordinated entry program onsite, he said.

Also included would be the coffee shop.

“The drop in center is what the kids are telling us is the most important thing,” Robinson said.

He said that by giving homeless youth the opportunity to work, it would ease the process of emancipation. He hopes to work with WorkSource on wages.

Robinson said that Serenity House currently has 25 kids who are in its system and said others are “testing” Serenity House out.

Robinson said if purchased there would need to be repairs, but he said he could look for grants and seek in-kind donations.

“In my job I keep putting stuff out there and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s not like we can’t pay somebody back over time, but they would have to work with us.”

He said housing for homeless youth is an unmet need in the community.

Serenity House has 90 units of its own housing and works with 200 landlords across the county, he said. Serenity House provides services to 2,000 people each year and sees about 4,000 people.

“The demand here is not small,” he said. “With the available funds, we do our best with them and that’s it.”

Robinson also announced the renaming of Serenity House’s shelters, such as the night-by-night and family shelters.

Shelters will now be known as Clallam County Community Shelters, he said. The agency is still known as Serenity House of Clallam County.

“This is a Clallam County responsibility and a community effort,” Robinson said. “We saw that this summer, the way the churches came in to help us build back up.”

He emphasized that the money that pays for shelters primarily comes from the community through document recording fees at the county.

“It’s county funding,” he said. “It’s not about Serenity House, it’s about what we want to do as a county.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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