The city is putting on its Santa Hat and fulfilling Christmas miracles for two local services who have been on a hunt for a location to call their own.
The Renton Kiwanis Clothes Bank and Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH)’s feeding program will be allowed to temporarily set camp at the Renton Airport, in a building formerly occupied by the Chamber of Commerce.
“Throughout our region we continue to see the growing need for basic necessities such as food and clothing and I feel it is important that we step up and provide a temporary solution,” said Mayor Denis Law in a press release. “It is vital to keep the doors of the clothes bank and REACH feeding program open, especially during the holidays. This gives these organizations the much-needed time to explore other options.”
The clothes bank has been in their downtown location for nearly 30 years, but needed to vacate the space by Dec. 31 since their renter, Renton Area Youth and Family Services, is needing to expand their services. After for searching for two years for a 2,000-square-foot location, they were unable to find a space to accommodate their growing retail necessities and limited budget.
Founded in 1966, the clothes bank has been serving the homeless and low-income families and individuals by providing free clothing and shoes. In 2015, it is estimated they helped 1,600 people in Renton. According president Jon Pozega, they served 350 to 800 people each month this year.
The city’s temporary solution means the clothes bank won’t need to hang up their coats for good, as they are free to move into the new space as soon as Jan. 1.
“We’re super, super thankful,” said Pozega.
REACH’s feeding program was also without a permanent home. Initially, REACH occupied the old chamber building from January 2015 through September 2016 while they looked for a permanent space suitable for their needs. Even though their initial lease at the old chamber building was until March 2016, the city allowed them to stay on until they were able to find a replacement space.
REACH found a temporary home at Daystar Baptist Church in September, but parted ways at the end of November when the partnership didn’t seem to be a good fit.
“None of us were sure if it was the perfect location, but we wanted to give it a shot,” said Executive Director Maggie Breen. “We tried it out and had a trial period with them. We knew early on that it wasn’t going to be a long-time solution because it didn’t have the capacity.”
The basement area at Daystar where the feeding program functioned out of was too small, said Breen, and they were having weekly overflow.
The solution to temporarily relocate at the old chamber building gives REACH the chance to search for a permanent location, ideally one that’s about 3,000 square feet and has a kitchen space, refrigerator and bathrooms.
“It’s such a great offer because it gives us stability in order to think about where we can move to next,” Breen said. “Previously, we’ve been focused on the short-term solution, we couldn’t think about the long term.
“The chamber building is an ideal location because it’s accessible to downtown and it’s accessible to our clients since it’s not in the middle of a residential area… we have people outside who are freezing cold, so it is vital we provide a space where they can warm up and find a meal. Renton is doing so much. I’m so grateful for our city. We have a responsibility to provide the basic things for people so they can go on and do what they’re meant to do. I’m so grateful for the Mayor and the city council for this help so we can plan our next steps.”