FOLLOWUP: What West Seattle’s only cold-weather shelter needs most

“The phone will not quit ringing.”

That’s what Keith Hughes told us – between phone calls – when we stopped by American Legion Post 160 (3618 SW Alaska) this afternoon to see what he needs to keep running West Seattle’s only cold-weather shelter.

12 people slept there last night, and he was expecting more tonight. So he needs more cots, and blankets for the people who will sleep on them. Socks and gloves, too – those go fast, dozens of pairs so far.

And of course, he still needs more volunteers to help keep the doors open, as a daytime warming center – some people drop in for a cup of coffee, maybe a pair of socks, and then go back out – and overnight shelter.

He is serving two meals a day, as the whiteboard outside says:

But he says they have plenty of food – including six 5-pound pans of frozen lasagna – so they don’t need more food right now. And please don’t bring clothing – that takes more volunteers to sort and wash, and that’s more than he can handle. Socks and gloves, he can just keep on a table by the door to Pershing Hall, the event room that’s doubling as a shelter.

Running the shelter is more than a matter of just keeping the doors open. Hughes has also been kept busy handling logistics for the people who show up, or who are brought there; some of the phone calls he took while we were there had to do with someone dropped off there who really needed to be in a hospital instead.

Since the last time we talked with him, the city has started including Post 160 on its resource list of emergency shelters. And the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority has someone calling twice a day to check in. But the only government help he’s getting, says Hughes, is a city promise to cover the utility bills for December – running two furnaces, doing laundry, and providing showers adds up.

If you have questions, or are interested in volunteering, call Post 160 any time between 8 am and 6 pm at 206-932-9696, or call Hughes directly at 206-941-6654.

WEDNESDAY NOTE: Please see the comment discussion below for updates. In short – volunteers still needed, everything else is good for now, thanks to some fast-acting generous people!

21 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What West Seattle's only cold-weather shelter needs most"

  • lowmanbeachdrive December 28, 2021 (11:02 pm)

    Bless your good hearts.

  • Dead Ender December 28, 2021 (11:34 pm)

    Their address is:3618 SW Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98126Hoping they can accept packages for Keith Hughes, now that he is a localcelebrity for having WSBlog publish his name. I am sending a care packagethere, with his name on it.  I mean, I might be able to get to a  store that has a stocked sock shelf on hand, but the ones I want for women are sold out as far away as Renton, and I can just order the suckers to be delivered directly.This way I save time the icy roads, and get right to the proper items delivered.Thanks for letting us know of this need. Cheers.

    • WSB December 29, 2021 (12:35 am)

      Sorry, meant to include the address in the story, have added it.

    • SB December 29, 2021 (11:31 am)

      I saw his name in ‘The Guardian’ online article yesterday!

  • Lisab December 28, 2021 (11:43 pm)

    Great man:)

  • WS Res December 29, 2021 (1:09 am)

    We just ordered up a bunch of socks and gloves via A*zon to be delivered Wednesday (we’re still waiting on COVID test results and shouldn’t go shopping). Thanks Keith and other helpers.

  • Fairmount Park Neighbor December 29, 2021 (1:50 am)

    Just sent an Amazon care package for delivery tomorrow (if they’re able with conditions) as I can’t get off my hill safely at the moment.  Sent in Keith’s name and hoping an eye is kept out for deliveries from our community.  Thank you for all you do, Keith!

  • AvalonTom December 29, 2021 (2:14 am)

    As someone who has done a few overnight shifts this week to take the load off Keith I cant stress enough how we need more overnight volunteers. 

  • paul December 29, 2021 (7:51 am)

    How does one get money to them?  WSB, do you know if they have a paypal or venmo account?  Instead of mailing a check.  I am sure that cash will also help.  And thank you for covering this, it shows how wonderful West Seattle is!

  • casey December 29, 2021 (7:58 am)

    I’m going on a cot run this morning, if anyone would like to chip in, and Venmo me- I’ll buy as many as they have. $40/each on sale. Email me if you’re interested and we can handle $ through Venmo or otherwise once we exchange phone numbers.

  • George December 29, 2021 (8:36 am)

    Do they need monetary donations and if so, what is the best way to get  a donation to them?

  • Karen December 29, 2021 (8:46 am)

    I ordered sox and gloves showing delivery tomorrow.  My email confirmation says delivery January 5 or 6.  I am hoping it will arrive sooner.

  • Casey December 29, 2021 (9:44 am)

    Just delivered 8 brand new cots, 8 pair of wool socks, gives and thermal blankets. I really hope this helps! 

    • Karen December 29, 2021 (11:37 am)

      Thank you, Casey!

  • Kat December 29, 2021 (9:48 am)

    Keith Hughes you are a rock star!! Thank you for reaching out and offering services in our cold weather. What an amazing community we live in.

  • Keith Hughes December 29, 2021 (10:15 am)

    as of 10:00 am, we now have enough cots!  Thank you so much to everyone for contributing.  Still seeking volunteers though.

    • Susan Montgomery December 29, 2021 (11:14 am)

      Hi Keith,Do you need any volunteers during daytime hours today or tomorrow? 

  • Jimbo December 29, 2021 (2:58 pm)

    What kind of food or snacks items do you normally need to have on stock for future use to help people who come to you, since I bet west Seattle will see another snow storm or cold snap in the next few months.        I know that the food bank gives out food sacks for people who don’t have a place to cook but people who might need help not always able to get to food bank. 

  • Cindi Barker December 29, 2021 (3:32 pm)

    Hi everyone, Keith is a one man operation down there, so I will help coordinate answers to your questions (I’ve checked in with him twice today).

    @Paul and @George, yes, they can use donations.  Last year they had a Go Fund Me account open, but Keith’s volunteer who was running that left and he doesn’t know how to do one this year.  So for right now, the best way is to stop by with cash or check.  Any veteran who would like to help manage this for Keith would also be most welcome!

    @Susan, yes, Keith does still need daytime help.  He’s got a sign up sheet going at the Legion and you can just call him at the numbers in the main story to find a time that works for you.   Often he needs help around breakfast or dinner time, to help set the food out and do dishes afterwards. Thank you so much for the offer of your time, it’s really helping

    For those who have donated cots, blankets, socks and gloves, thank you so much! There is a nice stash there now and he’s got all the cots his space will accommodate for night sleeping.  When the current assortment of coats and gloves runs low, we’ll put out the word for more.

    For those asking about food donations, we right now have all the freezer and pantry can store, so large drop offs are not needed.  But if you want to make a batch of cookies and stop by, somehow those all manage to disappear.  The men and women at the shelter are very appreciative of what our community is doing and they are also helping at the Legion by shoveling the snow and tidying up, so it’s been a good thing all around.

  • Lisa December 29, 2021 (11:18 pm)

    My spouse and I covered night shift on Xmas eve, when there were just 5 folks sleeping in the back room. I wore a mask, stayed in the lobby all night and had very little direct contact with the guests, several of whom did not  wear  masks.  I’d volunteer overnight again but with folks actually bedding down in the main hall, I need to know what if any COVID precautions are being taken/enforced?  Thanks!

  • Cindi Barker December 30, 2021 (7:30 pm)

    @Lisa, I checked with Keith this afternoon: This shelter does only take people that are vaccinated, Keith works with KCRHA to relocate people who are not vaccinated or have special needs.  Volunteers must also be vaccinated, he’s had to turn down several people who were not.  Regarding the mask wearing – with the seating area and the food serving area being next to and in front of the office, that’s where some of the people hang out to eat snacks and drink coffee and so masks do tend to get taken down and not religiously pulled up.  And they are not required to wear their masks while sleeping., as spacing of the cots is per the Red Cross COVID revised spacing advisories.     For wearing of the masks when not sleeping, Keith is now aware of the concern.  Thank you for volunteering and we hope you’ll be able to help again!

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