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home : current news : current news January 22, 2018

12/26/2017 12:00:00 PM
Community supports shelter
Laura T. Lewis, a Portland singer-songwriter, performed at Cork Cellars in a benefit that raised over $6,000 for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter. photo by Jim Cornelius
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Laura T. Lewis, a Portland singer-songwriter, performed at Cork Cellars in a benefit that raised over $6,000 for the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Sue Stafford

In the spirit of the season, members of the community stepped up last Thursday night in support of the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter, donating a total of $6,350 at an evening of music held at Cork Cellars.

Metabolic Maintenance's Ed Fitzjarrel put up a challenge of $2,500 to be matched by attendees, who upped the ante and donated $3,850. Fitzgerald and his musical partner Joe Leonardi were joined by Jim Cornelius and Mike Biggers and Portland singer-songwriter Laura T. Lewis for an evening of music, fun, and fundraising.

In addition to the money from the night of music, a check for $1,400 for the shelter was left at the library by a donor.

"The Sisters Dance Academy held a fundraiser for us and raised a little over $500 for the shelter as well," reported shelter co-chairman Lois Kaping.

Sisters Girl Scout Troop 10732 placed large barrels in the local schools prior to Christmas vacation and collected food, bedding, clothing, paper products, and other needed supplies for the shelter.

"The whole community, religious and others, have really stepped up. It's just amazing," Kaping reported. "From the Girl Scouts to an 85-year-old."

The shelter, which opened in January 2017 in the face of an extraordinarily harsh winter, provides warm safe shelter and nourishing meals for those in our community who find themselves without stable housing. The shelter operated last winter from January through March, housed each month in one of three local churches - Westside Sisters Church, Sisters Community Church, and the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. This year, the shelter opened its doors on November 15 and will provide beds and food through March 15, with the same three churches participating.

None of the work of the shelter would be possible if it weren't for a group of committed volunteers and the generosity of the residents and businesses of Sisters.

Volunteer leadership, advisory committee, nightly monitors, and providers of daily dinners and breakfasts, as well as people willing to act as foster pet parents for shelter guests' dogs, are the heart of the effort.

"Ronni Dunn and her team have done a great job of engaging new and existing volunteers," Kaping added.

Businesses have been tremendously generous in their support of the shelter, providing meals, gift cards, clothing, propane, camping equipment, and shower facilities.

Guests and volunteers alike have made new friends and broken down the wall that sometimes exists between a town's residents and those who find themselves struggling.

"The funds raised by Fitzjarrel's challenge will pay for an entire month of shelter operations and more," according to advisory committee member Sharlene Weed.

Despite all the volunteer involvement, it is necessary to pay two late-night monitors at the shelter for the midnight-to-7 a.m. shift.

"At $13 per hour, that is $195 a night, our single biggest expense," Weed said.

The good news is three local Sisters residents were hired to work the late shift.

The very best outcome of the shelter's efforts lies in the fact that three guests from last winter have found permanent housing, according to Kaping.

With the milder winter so far this year, the shelter is averaging about 10 guests an evening, a number that will surely increase as snow falls and temperatures


According to Kaping, the shelter has applied for two grants and they are waiting to hear back on those applications. Last summer the shelter received a $1,200 grant from the City of Sisters.

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