News

Outreach heading for larger digs

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Plateau Outreach Ministries has made a home for itself at the corner of Cole Street and Stevenson Avenue, dispensing a wide variety of services for folks down on their luck.

While the organization's mission isn't about to change, its base of operations is.

This week, POM staffers and volunteers started making the shift to their new quarters at 1740 Cole St. The downtown storefront was most recently home to The Salt Shaker, a Christian bookstore. It's anticipated the move will be completed by Aug. 8.

First to move will be More Pennies From Heaven, the thrift shop that provides revenue for the non-profit operation. The store will be closed for two weeks, reopening on the 8th. POM's food bank and Samaritan Project will be the next to move, but will continue operating during the transition.

"We were tripping over each other here," POM director Mari Roll said, referring to the existing quarters. She said POM's board of directors has long seen the need for additional space and directed her to continue the hunt for suitable quarters when she was hired in January.

The search was fruitless for a while and the board had just about given up hope, Roll said, when the two-story space a few blocks north opened up.

Roll said the street-level space at the new location, which will be used for the thrift shop and food bank, is equal to the total space available in the old spot. The upstairs office space will be used for Samaritan Project efforts and POM administration.

The best thing about the added space, Roll said, is it will allow POM to expand its services to meet some clear community needs. "Nothing is written in stone," she said, but POM has considered adding a drop-in center where people can use a phone in privacy and study the organization's library of resource materials. The board has also considered offering some medical and counseling services, or even operating something akin to a "soup kitchen" for those who aren't sure where their next meal is coming from.

Once the move is complete, Roll said, she will start searching for funding sources.

Plateau Outreach Ministries is funded by local churches, private donations and an annual contribution from the city of Enumclaw. The day-to-day operation is handled by two full-time employees, two part-timers and a flock of volunteers.

The food bank operates each Wednesday and is now drawing an average crowd of 100 to 135. POM is designed to help those who reside within the boundaries of the Enumclaw School District but there's no requirement to show a proof of residence, Roll said, and no one is turned away. Each person receives a bag filled with such staples as rice, pasta and beans, and each can select from a shelf of donated items.

Roll said her latest studies show about half the food bank recipients live within the Enumclaw city limits.

The Samaritan Project has assisted 269 families since the first of the year, Roll said. The operation helps those who can't make their rent or utility payment, provides vouchers for gasoline and can help with prescription costs, among other things. So far this year, people have been helped to the tune of $24,500, Roll said.

The entire Enumclaw community will be invited to an open house Sept. 19, when Plateau Outreach Ministries will show off its new quarters.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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