[Hpn] Churches organize campout to raise funds for homeless

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 04 Sep 2001 09:12:35 -0700


Saturday, September 01, 2001, 12:00 a.m. Pacific

Churches organize campout to raise funds for homeless

By Sherry Grindeland
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Forty Eastside residents will be sleeping in their cars in church parking
lots or on church doorsteps tomorrow night.

This is no tailgate party.

The board members from Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing (KITH) and
members of Holy Family Catholic Church, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church,
Kirkland Congregational Church and the Kirkland Church of the Nazarene have
volunteered to be uncomfortable to raise $5,000.

The money, said the Rev. Ron Hutchinson, organizer, will underwrite
transitional housing for two homeless families. Hutchinson is the pastor and
associate director of the housing group. KITH, a faith-based nonprofit
organization, has provided temporary housing in the Kirkland area for 11

The group receives 123 requests each month for housing help. Based upon
counts by social-service groups, there are an estimated 6,500 homeless
people in King County each night.

Currently, KITH manages a 12-unit apartment house, owns one fourplex and is
trying to purchase another one in the Kingsgate area.

"We didn't start KITH to be landlords, but we discovered that the only way
to control rent is to own the apartments," said Hutchinson, a retired
Kirkland Congregational pastor.

He patterned the overnight event after a project in England.

"We're doing it so people in our churches will understand homelessness a
little better," Hutchinson said.

His only worry is that the makeshift campouts  done without campfires or
tents  will displace real homeless people.

"The last thing any homeless family living in their car wants to do is
attract attention," Hutchinson said. "When they see us, they'll probably
drive on to another spot."

Homeless families perceive church parking lots as safe havens, he added.
They usually arrive after dark and leave early in the morning. Imagine, he
said, trying to find a bathroom for your family or a place to brush your
teeth and your hair. Or having to get dressed for work in your car.

Sometimes the imagination needs a boost.

That's why the Rev. Michael Anderson of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church signed
up for the project. Anderson and his 8-year-old daughter, Sara, and their
new puppy, Roxy, will sleep in the parking lot.

"I've been trying to help my daughter understand what it is like to be
homeless," Anderson said. "This will be a good lesson for us all. Plus I
like supporting KITH."

Hutchinson said it hasn't been easy to recruit participants for this
project, which he hopes is just the first in a series. He attributes that to
first-time jitters so he added enticements not usually available to homeless

Congregation members at the Kirkland Church of the Nazarene will prepare
breakfast for the volunteers, and restrooms will be available all night at
the participating churches.

"We're calling it comic relief. I personally will need one," Hutchinson
said. "I'm not sure my back will hold out for me to actually sleep in the
car, but I'll be there all night in one of the parking lots."

Send donations to: Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing, 12700 N.E.
124th, No. 202, Kirkland, WA 98034

If you wish to participate, the following Kirkland churches will host
overnight fund-raising stays:

 Holy Family Catholic Church, 7355 120th Ave. N.E.
 Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 10021 N.E. 124th St.
 Kirkland Church of the Nazarene, 232 Fifth Ave. S.
 Kirkland Congregational Church United Church of Christ, 106 Fifth Ave.

Copyright  2001 The Seattle Times Company

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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