Camp Hope began in March 2017 in response to critical need expressed by city and county officials to alleviate the challenges of homelessness in downtown Yakima and the greater Yakima Valley. Our city had been experiencing a marked increase in individuals experiencing homelessness and an unsupervised tent encampment had cropped up downtown in an abandoned lot near homes and local businesses. The city and county needed help addressing this issue and the Yakima Valley Council of Governments (YVCOG) awarded a grant to Transform Yakima Together to get Camp Hope started. (see Homeless Shelter Plan)
Camp Hope began as an outdoor, barracks-style encampment for approximately 45 adults with 24-hour security, 3 meals a day brought in by volunteers, a shower trailer (as there was no running water), and an education center to teach life skills, literacy, and GED classes.
As the temperature got colder, a search began for an indoor location. In November 2017, the Camp Hope winter weather shelter opened in a warehouse on 1702 Englewood Avenue in Yakima. The location operates as a day-time warming station for many homeless in the community and sleeps around 100 residents nightly, not only for men and women, but now for families with children as well.
Since its opening, Camp Hope has provided over 14,000 bed nights and 38,000 meals to approximately 540 individuals.
More Than a Bed – Camp Hope Winter Shelter
The Camp Hope Winter Weather Shelter meets the basic needs of safety, shelter, clothing, and food so that our residents can more easily access other support services and start to rebuild their lives. As a low-barrier shelter, there are no requirements of religious participation in order to receive services.
Upon admission, all guests sign a Good Neighbor Agreement outlining expectations for behavior and are expected to provide up to 10 hours of volunteer service on-site each week. All guests are enrolled into an Accountability Partner Program where they are paired with a staff member or volunteer who provide encouragement, support, and regular accountability. Our licensed social worker Julie Grove meets with each resident and helps them (re)connect with vital resources to obtain permanent housing, medical/mental health support, substance abuse treatment, or other community programs. (Click here to be a mentor.)
Every resident is offered 3 meals a day, graciously donated and brought in by local organizations like Sunrise Outreach, Northwest Harvest Food Bank, and the Union Gospel Mission. Meals have been one of our biggest challenges, as the building has no kitchen facilities. (Click here to donate or serve meals.)
The shelter maintains an excellent volunteer-run education center where guests are given the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in a variety of subjects, including: GED preparation, basic reading, writing, and math, financial management, computer literacy, resume writing and job interview skills, mental health, grief management, and voluntary religious studies. (Click here to help in education center.)
Our education center provides access to computers to aide in job/housing searches and to reunite with family members on Skype and Facebook. Many guests have been able to see family for the first time in a long time. (Click here to help with computers.)
Transform Yakima Together also maintains two shuttle buses that provide limited transportation services for residents with daily trips to/from the downtown Yakima bus transit center. (Click here to help transport.)
Perhaps the most vital component of Camp Hope’s success is the sense of community and family cultivated by the residents and staff. This is critical to providing the safety, support, and atmosphere of hope so necessary in facing life’s challenges and moving forward with one’s life.
One of our residents shared, “I used to sleep in the alley behind the Arco. Now I feel safe and like I belong.”
We are more than just a shelter… we are Camp Hope.