Rod’s House winter weather shelter officially opens, still looking for volunteers

Rod’s House’s young adult extreme winter weather shelter officially opens Friday. The shelter will house young adults ages 18 to 24 at Englewood Christian Church on 44th Avenue in Yakima.

Starting Nov. 1, about 16 young adults will be able to stay the night at the church. It’ll be open until March 2020.

Rod’s House is expecting to serve about 50 young adults throughout the winter. They’ll also provide resources to those young adults to help get them on their feet and out of homelessness.

Goderik Gummert started working at Rod’s House recently. He grew up in and out of places similar to Rod’s House, but said he’s amazed by the amount of resources this local non-profit offers its young people.

“There’s so many more programs and ways of help with Rod’s House than I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Gummert. “You know, on and off the streets as a teen whatnot, we had a lot of places we could go to get out of the cold but not like this shelter. Almost, there’s no end to the resources it seems like.”

He said it means everything to him to be able to help young people who are going through what he once did.

Josh Jackson, Rod’s House’s executive director, said last winter, they saw 38 percent of the young people leave the shelter to a permanent housing destination, whether that was into their own apartment or reuniting with family. He said their goal is to not have them stay for long.

“It’s really important to have interventions for young people because we can help prevent and end their homelessness,” said Jackson.

Rod’s House regularly provides meals, clothes and personal hygiene items to those who need them. The house serves as a support network for youth and young adults. It has an employment and education readiness program that helps youth graduate, become work-ready and find and keep meaningful employment. People who use the shelter also have access to those resources.

“We want to hear their voices. We want to know what their dreams and aspirations are, and we want to do everything to our highest ability to give them that and help them attain it,” said Gummert.

The Homeless Network of Yakima County has run cold weather shelters for youth for the past two years. Jackson said before the community had a youth shelter three years ago, he would see young homeless people out on the streets during the winter.

“If it’s not for this,” said Gummart. “There’s going to be a lot of Yakima’s youth stuck out in the cold and feeling forgotten. And nobody wants to be forgotten.”

Staff will transport youth from Rod’s house to the church for dinner and breakfast the next morning. Jackson said they’re glad they can help fill this need in the community.

Rod’s House is always looking for more volunteers. They’re looking for people to cook breakfast for the young people before they leave the shelter in the mornings, to cook dinner alongside shelter residents and to stay overnight at Englewood Christian to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Email shelter@rodshouse.org with questions or for more information.