Rod’s House needs volunteers at youth shelters in Yakima, Sunnyside

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Rod’s House is in need of volunteers and meal partners for its young adult extreme winter weather shelter in Yakima and its young adult emergency house in Sunnyside.

“The community has been so generous and is always generous this time of year,” said Lisa Wallace, Interim Executive Director at Rod’s House. “But we are in a bind for people because of COVID.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Rod’s House was not able to partner with a local church to host its extreme winter weather shelter this year. Instead, the shelter is partnering with Motel 6 in Yakima to put young adults up in motel rooms overnight, through March 31.

“Young people who are currently experiencing homelessness are still experiencing homelessness,” Wallace said. “COVID didn’t bring them safe, stable housing.”

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Wallace said their biggest need is for weekend volunteers to help supervise young people in two hour shifts: during check-in from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and checkout from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“The person literally just sits in the lobby and makes sure that the young people get checked out okay,” Wallace said. “It’s actually a great way to be involved from a safe distance … If you could do one Sunday afternoon a month, that would be an extraordinary gift to us.”

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In addition to volunteers, Rod’s House is in need of meal partners to provide dinner, breakfast and sack lunches for 12 to 16 people at the Motel 6 and about 10 people at the Sunnyside emergency house.

Individuals, families, businesses or civic groups can make homemade meals and drop them off at either location, order food from local restaurants to be delivered, or buy groceries for sack lunches.

“We always wear our masks. We do a COVID screening,” Wallace said. “We are doing this as safely as we can.”

Wallace said the shelters rely on community partners to feed their residents and while they have established relationships in Yakima, the new location in Sunnyside is still looking for those relationships.

“It’s taking a little bit longer to get our feet underneath us, so we’re in desperate need for meal partners in Sunnyside,” Wallace said.

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For those unable to volunteer or provide meals, Rod’s House posts a list of needed items on its Facebook page weekly. They also have an Amazon wishlist, with items ranging from $15 to $70. Financial donations can be made here.

Rod’s House is also looking for donations of new or gently used art supplies for their Sunnyside facility.

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Additionally, Wallace said they’re looking for people to help provide entertainment options for the young adults in Sunnyside, who do not have many recreation opportunities due to COVID-19 restrictions. She said a virtual art, cooking or other class would be welcomed.

For more information or to inquire about volunteer/meal partner opportunities, send an email to maggie@rodshouse.org.