SHEM moves down the road

Sweet Home Emergency Ministries opens today (Wednesday) with a new face and more storage space.

SHEM closed its office on Friday to complete the move to its new location at 4101 Highway 20, across the highway from the Cedar Shack in the former site of Backcountry Pedaler.

“We’re moving because it’ll give is lots more space than we have now,” SHEM Director Karen Little said at SHEM’s former location at the Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll have room over there. Freezer doors will open all the way. It’s really tight here. We’ve had a shortage of space for a long time.”

That shortage of space and record-setting food drives, high school, Boy Scouts churches and individuals, this year have required the move. SHEM expanded into the garage area and it was full.

SHEM gave out 240 Christmas boxes and averaged about 180 boxes per month over the last year.

“The community is supportive, and we appreciate it; but we need the room so we can hand it out,” Little said.

With the holiday food drives, SHEM had collected some five and a half tons of food, Little said. She expects that to be depleted by March.

SHEM assists families who need help with food, utilities and even rent. SHEM also serves approximately 150 persons per week through the Dinner with Daisy program at The Rez and Senior Center.

“We’re finding utility assistance is really being stretched because everything went up,” Little said. With housing, families should spend no more than 30 percent of their income, but many do. Oregon itself is number on in the nation for the number of people actually hungry, what is called “food insecurity with hunger.”

The needs are growing, Little said. Though SHEM gave out 200 boxes on average per month in 1999, the lower number in 2000 has less to do with need than with SHEM.

For persons looking for assistance, SHEM requires a current utility bill or rent receipt for identification. SHEM requires an application.

Families are allowed one box of food per month, if they qualify, Little said. Families must tell SHEM their incomes, but SHEM doesn’t require any further proof.

A single person qualifies making less than $905 per month. A family of two qualifies at $1,219 or less per month; three, $1,537; four, $1,847; and five, $2,161. For each additional member of the family, the maximum income to receive assistance is an additional $314 per month.

SHEM serves a lot of households with one or two persons, a number of large families and some multiple families. The average size of those families served is about four.

Little has been director at SHEM since August. She succeeded Christy Duran.

A native Oregonian, Little is pastor at the United Methodist Church and has been involved through the board of directors for five years before taking her new position.

Little moved to Sweet Home in 1994 and became pastor at the United Methodist Church in 1996. Prior to that she was pastor in the Roseburg area, charged with Dillard-Winston, Tenmile and Camas Valley.

Little said SHEM provides an opportunity for volunteerism and is seeking new volunteers.

Persons interested in volunteering or persons seeking assistance or more information may contact SHEM at 367-6504.