The residents at Camp Unity Eastside are officially moved into their new home at St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church along Woodinville-Duvall Road.
Camp Unity board member and volunteer Mark Van Wormer said the camp moved 25 residents from their previous location at Bear Creek United Methodist Church on Avondale Road NE. The camp has the ability to host up to 40 people at the new location.
“This has been the harshest move due to rain and cold,” Van Wormer said. “We would not be able to do this without the help of so many volunteers.”
He said the camp is required to move every four to five months, depending on the permitting process. The jurisdiction at Bear Creek was King County.
The camp space is generally provided by churches, which provides a place for residents to set up their temporary homes. Van Wormer said each location always features a kitchen area, shower trailer, laundry machines and community areas—which are hooked up to the church facilities.
Van Wormer said Camp Unity is a place for residents to stay, keep things in one space and not worry about stealing. The camp is self-managed, although various supervisors manage operations.
The residents pay membership dues to pay for necessary utilities, although the costs are minuscule compared to alternative low-income housing prices.
During the past year, nine residents of Camp Unity Eastside were able to move to permanent housing, volunteer Lisa Peckol said. She also happens to be married to Van Wormer.
The camp focuses on creating community. Van Wormer said residents have been successful in developing relationships and finding comfort among other campers. Former residents will come back to visit old friends or help at the camp.
“We are grateful for the 24 volunteers who came to help with the move,” Peckol said. “It makes such a huge difference. Moving is hard, especially for campers.”
Residents worked the last few days to pack up belongings and take down tents. At the new location, volunteers worked to set up community areas and sleeping tents with canopies to protect against the rain and snow. People also brought trucks to help move items.
Peckol said the camps “acted as a stimulus to the congregation,” helping to raise awareness about the homeless situation and appreciation for helping out. Lots of people have gotten involved, she added.
Physical activity is not for everyone. Peckol said the camps are always eager to accept donations, supplies, and especially meals. The website provides an essential needs list for toiletries, clothing, kitchenware, and other items.
Volunteers can also sign up via an online calendar to bring meals to the camp.
“People can help by providing hot meals to the camp,” she said. “Having a hot meal this time of year is essential.”