Cold Weather Shelter had a successful start


Last updated 10/18/2022 at Noon

In December 2016, at the beginning of what proved to be an especially harsh winter, an unhoused man named Ed Fones died in his car of hypothermia. Fones was employed in Sisters, but couldn’t afford to pay rent, so lived in his car.

At the time of this tragedy, a dedicated group of community members was already in the process of establishing Sisters’ first cold weather Shelter, led by co-chairs Pastor Ron Gregg of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and Lois Kaping of Westside Church (now Wellhouse). The shelter opened its doors on January 1, 2017, two weeks too late to save Ed Fones.

The initial community response to the shelter was significant. Donations of supplies and money needed by both the shelter and its guests showed up all winter long. Citizens, businesses, and churches provided sleeping mats and bedding, storage bins, hot dinners, and light breakfasts with snacks to go, hygiene items, clothing, gift cards, and access to employment support and community services.

Activities offered at the Shelter included meals, cards, puzzles, movies, conversation, and community. Three Sisters churches – Westside, Sisters Community, and Church of the Transfiguration — offered shelter space on a rotating monthly basis.

Before the second winter season in 2017-18, a benefit concert organized by Ed Fitzjarrel of Metabolic Maintenance raised $6,350 at an evening of music held at Cork Cellars, with Fitzjarrel donating $3,850 himself. An anonymous resident left a check for $1,400 at the library for the Shelter.

Sisters Dance Academy held a fundraiser resulting in over $500 for the Shelter. 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 supplies for the shelter.

As with everything else, COVID-19 hindered the shelter’s program for two seasons and adjustments and cutbacks were necessary. The new shelter leadership will be attending a national conference on the East Coast this fall with the possibility for new funding and training.

Wellhouse Church plans to host the shelter in January but other facilities are still needed.


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