Spokane celebrates Family Resources Day

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City celebrates the opening of new Salvation Army resource center

by Christy Markham –

Pictured at the recent ribbon cutting are (l-r) Major Lani Chamness, Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin, Lea Noble of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Dennis Hession, Major John Chamness, Advisory Board Chair Jim Cortner and Case Manager Carol Shimmer.

Seven years ago a dream was born that all Spokane Salvation Army programs would one day exist on one campus. With the grand opening of the Family Resource Center, this dream has come true. The Spokane Salvation Army’s Family Emergency Shelter, food bank, and family services office—previously at separate locations—are now serving the community from one facility, adjacent to the corps citadel, administrative offices, and other social service programs.

The Spokane City Council proclaimed October 3 Salvation Army Family Resource Day. Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession, campus funders, members of partnering social service agencies, and over 100 other guests attended the Family Resource Center dedication and open house.

“The Family Resource Center provides the tools families need to escape poverty,” said Major John Chamness, Inland Northwest Regional Coordinator.

The new food bank is more than double the size of the former facility and will have a “shopping” program where families can select what they need, instead of receiving pre-assembled boxes of food.

According to Spokane Social Services Director Kim Petrusek, “The new Family Emergency Shelter will be able to accommodate 20 percent more families in a remodeled program that fosters self-reliance.” All of the 18 family-dwelling units come equipped with a private bath and kitchenette to not only provide privacy for each family, but also opportunity to learn the responsibilities involved with care and upkeep of a home. The program offers shelter to homeless families and couples for up to 90 days.

Families truly seeking independent living are encouraged to apply to The Salvation Army’s transitional housing program, where they rent a subsidized apartment for up to 24 months or until safe, affordable, permanent housing can be secured. Now that the shelter shares an address with the transitional housing facility on the Family Resource Campus and families from the two programs can interact, the merge has potential to provide motivation for shelter families to strive for independent living.

All families admitted to the Family Emergency Shelter are required to attend the life skills classes offered by the family services office. Classes include Cooking and Nutrition, Anger Management, Living on a Budget, and Parenting Skills. Previously, these classes were held at several different locations to accommodate class size and topic. Now all classes will be offered to program participants and the general public at the Family Resource Center. The facility is equipped with classrooms, a demonstration kitchen, and is wired for a future computer lab. Once funding or donations are secured, the family services office will offer software training to help individuals seeking employment that provides a living wage.

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