Posted on in Vestry Corner by The Rev. David Marshall
On behalf of the Vestry, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who came to help Tent City move in. One of the best parts of this experience was our parishioners, our neighbors and the camp residents working together and getting to know each other better. We are also grateful for the support received from our Congregation as a whole.
The Shoreline permit process for allowing Tent City on our grounds required a community meeting and notifications sent to anyone living near St. Dunstan’s. There were 350 letters sent, and around 20 people attended our meeting. The response was very positive with many of the attendees asking the campers how they could help them and what their needs are. There were also questions regarding some practical concerns that were answered. A recap of the meeting has been posted on our web site.
Move day for Tent City was quite an undertaking and challenging. The weather was clear but so cold that when they started to take down the community tents in Renton, the plastic tarps started to crack and they had to wait till it warmed up. There were 3 large trucks, but one of those broke down, causing long delays with getting things moved. The 40 minute drive each way between locations made long waits between truck loads. The tents sit on foundations of pallets covered with plywood and use milk crates for foundations for sleeping bags. There were many heavy items to load and unload, and just keeping the different tent poles sorted and organized was a big task.
We had a warm response to the camp’s arrival with many coming to roll up their sleeves, including some neighbors. There were some great conversations. One lady that attended our community meeting brought a carload of supplies she had picked up after checking the Tent City needs list posted on the SHARE web site. Later, another truck pulled up asking if the camp could use a food donation. These were representatives from a group called Fallen Brothers that I had not known of before. We had a journalist from our Shoreline paper visit as well as people from Michigan who are working with homeless in their area and are traveling to learn how they could start a Tent City for the people they serve. Tent City 3 and SHARE are well known.
Even with all this help, the move continued throughout the night and on into Sunday. It was a bitterly cold evening, and the campers had been working since daybreak and on into the dark. We served chicken soup throughout to hopefully warm and sustain everyone. Sunday morning when visiting, we noticed the camp was low on cups. Before we could consider running to the store to get some, a car pulled up with another neighbor who had made hot chocolate for everyone and even extra cups.
Hosting Tent City is truly a neighborhood experience. Working alongside the Tent City residents and our neighbors has made me feel a part of the Shoreline community like never before. One of the volunteers who has worked with Tent City for years said that being part of the move made him feel more like he was helping friends, not just people in need. I feel the same way and hope you do as well. “Thanks for your support” doesn’t begin to express how much it is truly appreciated and what a difference it makes.