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Media contact: Eileen Sigler, 541.780.5137

 

First Place Annex Opens To Grateful Families

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Date: Wednesday, September 26 2018

   

 

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis happily cut the ribbon, officially opening the First Place Annex.

"Words can't describe the gratefulness I have for the items provided. The community's generosity is amazing. Thank you from all of us from the bottom of our hearts."
-- Single parent with two teens and a 1-year-old grandchild

Annex needs:
Gift cards for food
Monetary donations to help address individual needs like certificates, licenses, etc.
Groups to prepare dinner
Evening family activities
Contact Eileen Chanti
541-342-7728

 Following a neighborhood ice-cream social on Sept. 29 and grand opening festivities the morning of Oct. 1, the first occupants of the First Place Family Center Annex brought in items needed for the inaugural overnight stay. “The Annex,” as it’s called, is a permanent home for the Interfaith Night Shelter program that has rotated families among host sites for more than a quarter century. The location at West Amazon Pkwy and Fox Hollow Rd. is a convenient yet semi-secluded location that will be open to families from early evening to early morning.

 
The former church sanctuary, left, gives up to 20 families a comfy place to lay their heads. The dividers were built in the SVDP mattress shop.

With the Annex comes twice the capacity – 20 families compared with 10 under the previous system. Initially families were admitted a few at a time to avoid overwhelming any one component. Meals and evening entertainment continue as the purview of faith communities and can be undertaken by other groups as well – work teams, civic organizations, youth groups, etc. Anyone interested can contact Night Shelter Coordinator Beckey Beck at 541-342-7728 or by email.

The cheery play room beckons children before and after dinner.

The Annex was made possible by an anonymous donor who funded the property purchase on the condition it be used as a family shelter. The fact was not lost on more than a dozen families that were first to move in, and who shared their reactions in a questionnaire.

They are couples, single parents and a grandma. One mom is pregnant, several kids are in their teens. Their responses conveyed mostly joy and gratitude, but also the weight of being homeless with children.

Adults can visit and watch TV while still keeping an eye on the kids in the adjacent play room.

“Overwhelming,” wrote the 38-year-old single parent of children ages 9, 8 and 6.

The bright kitchen awaits volunteers from throughout the community who are willing to feed families or play with kids and help them with their homework.

The parent of a “soon to be” 5 year old wrote, “I’m so thankful that we don’t have to sleep outside anymore.”

A couple with her 7-year-old, who escaped “gangs, drugs and heat” in California expecting to find employment and housing in Oregon, wrote, “Thank you for the roof over our heads instead of sleeping in the truck.”

From the time families start arriving at the Annex each evening, the presence of children is evident both outside on the spacious grounds, and inside where kids have their own play room in addition to community living and dining rooms. Arriving there each evening is reminiscent of arriving at Grandma’s house.

Such consistency was a compelling argument for The Annex, one that Night Shelter Coordinator Beckey Beck thinks families appreciate most. She said, of The Annex, "The most noticeable difference is that instead of moving to a new location every week, the families, and especially the children, know where they are going to be each night.”

KMTR reporter Stephanie Rothman filed this report >

American Journalist Rick Dancer visited the Annex during construction and offered this report: