SEQUIM — As winter breezes into town, one woman seeks support for warming those in need.
Jean Pratschner has organized a warming center inside the Serenity House Resource Center at 583 W. Washington St., across the parking lot from the Serenity House Thrift Shop.
She first suggested the idea to the community group Sequim Cares more than a year ago, which began building up steam in October, she said.
“There’s no place to go at night in Sequim when the stores all closed and [those in need] could freeze to death, which isn’t acceptable in my book,” she said.
Pratschner spoke with Kevin Harkins, executive coordinator for Serenity House, who suggested the spot for the center.
Now, she’s seeking volunteers to work four-hour shifts on an on-call basis on a week-by-week basis.
So far, she has enough volunteers for this week and next.
The center will open during severe weather — 32 degrees or below — from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for anybody except unaccompanied minors.
Pratschner said if the warming center had been open last year, it would have been available for seven days with sub-32-degree weather.
It won’t host any cots or sleep facilities except for children, she said, and pets are welcome if calm and controlled.
Pratschner hosted a training session at the facility Thursday.
Each shift includes a paid Olympic Community Action Program employee, who sponsors the center, and at least one volunteer.
Before an individual can use the center, trained employees/volunteers will check for drugs, weapons and dangerous animals at the door for safety.
Volunteers will be given 8-10 hours notice before being needed for a four-hour shift.
Pratschner said Sequim Police officers informed organizers that during severe weather, they know of five to 10 individuals who could use the facility.
To spread word about the warming center, Pratschner said she’s reached out to the police, churches, service clubs, the Sequim Food Bank and the city of Sequim for volunteers, support and to help those in need.
Once open, Pratschner plans to offer hot liquids and meals, and she’s collecting warm socks and blankets. They also plan to give out vouchers for showers at the YMCA of Sequim and for laundry in town.
Along with volunteers, center organizers seek a TV, DVD player, puzzles, games and books.
For more information on volunteering or donating, contact Pratschner at 505-264-0278 or email JLPratschner@gmail.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.