In Their Shoes: Volunteers dedicate every day to helping the homeless

While most people were making their morning coffee Monday, volunteers were bringing breakfast and blankets to homeless people across Spokane.

Julie Garcia and Reeanna Remington were serving breakfast by 8:30 Monday morning to everyone at the Cannon Street Warming Shelter, in Spokane. Before breakfast, they passed out socks and other supplies to people staying there.

Visiting shelters and warming centers is part of Garcia’s daily routine. She started Jewel’s Helping Hands, which is a volunteer group that helps feed homeless people and support them in whatever ways they need. Every night, they feed people a hot meal at the Cannon Street shelter and the one at Salem Lutheran. All the food comes from personal donations or through partnerships with local nonprofits, like Feed Spokane.

“Now that it’s so cold, everybody is coming in, the homeless population, the people that slept in their cars before. They’re all coming to the warming centers, so our numbers are huge,” Garcia said. “We’re feeding 300 people a night, instead of 100 or 150.”

During the day, when she and other volunteers aren’t cooking, they drive around town to deliver food, blankets, and other supplies to some of the homeless people who don’t feel comfortable staying at shelters.

“We know where they are. We know where to find them. So, we hunt them down and make sure they have everything they need,” Garcia said. “We see these guys every day. They’re our friends.”

That’s something Remington agreed with. She’s another person who volunteers to help the homeless. She helped found the nonprofit Solution is Ours.

In Their Shoes: Volunteers dedicate every day to helping the homeless

Remington has a unique understanding of people who are homeless and the struggles they face because both her parents faced addiction.

“Growing up, my dad was one of these people and you know, both my parents struggled with addiction issues and I know that, you know, the simplest little, you know, changes in the way my life could have gone could have ended me up here,” Remington said.

Instead of needing help, she gives it. That’s something she and Garcia think more people should do in Spokane. Both she and Garcia are mothers with their goals and professions, but they still find time to give back.

“It’s not just their problem. This is our problem and we need to figure out solutions for these guys to have safer places to live and it will solve probelms for everybody, business owners, the city, if we could just get them places to live or stay,” Garcia said.

She pointed to the success of a recent hotel stay with homeless people. The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund paid for 30 hotel rooms to help people, according to Garcia. She and other volunteers went around town and picked up 86 homeless people and took them to the hotel.

In Their Shoes: Volunteers dedicate every day to helping the homeless

They aren’t still there, but she said, for many of them, the time they spent there helped them get their life back on track. She said one person who was homeless even got a job with the hotel they were staying at.

“This is where we start to change the world. We start at home,” Garcia said.

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