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ARISE looking for volunteers to help make lunches
Ruth Johnson has always been in the service of something or another she says, whether she was working or not.
Presently, the 68-year-old is the volunteer manager for the Area of Renton Interfaith Shelter Endeavor, or ARISE, which is a rotating shelter for homeless men. The organization is experiencing a shortage of volunteers right now and is asking the community for support.
“We make lunches and snacks for seven days of the week, 31 days a month, 12 months a year,” Johnson said. “A lot of lunches, but the volunteers, they’re the ones that make it happen. They’re hard workers; they know what they’re doing and they’re good.”
ARISE was founded by the Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches, or REACH in 2004 and today operates as a partnership Catholic Community Services and the City of Renton. The program has been in existence for 10 years and recently made some changes in operation due to low volunteer numbers.
“We’ve got tons of really loyal volunteers, but it was getting harder and harder to sustain meal production in the evening,” said Maggie Breen, REACH executive director. “Many churches were signing up but there were also big gaps, at the same time we were developing the Renton Meal Coalition.”
Now the ARISE program takes its homeless men to the Renton Meal Coalition for dinner at the Renton Salvation Army instead of facilitating dinner at rotating churches. Program organizers hope to maximize resources by centralizing everything for grant purposes.
“We’ve changed a program that’s been in place for 10 years now, so (we’re) kind of getting people used to a new way of doing it,” said Breen.
Now volunteers prepare lunches and snacks at the REACH Center of Hope in the bottom of City Hall one to three days a week.
“Volunteers can come to a central location and make things here and then get them out to the churches; it just feels more efficient,” said Breen.
It costs $10 a month for a man to receive breakfast, lunch and a snack for seven days.
“If anyone wants to come and help and have a good hour and a half of serving the community, it is so much needed right now,” said Johnson. “This is a great place and I would encourage anyone to come here.”
For those interested in volunteering for the ARISE program, visit reachrenton.org.