|OTW Strategic Plan|
The OTW shelter is a temporary home for our residents while they get back on their feet. Our model is based on teaching and supporting self-reliance and responsibility, rather than by “doing for” our residents. That is why we don’t ask for volunteers to come down and provide meals or give charity. We are teaching our residents to do for themselves, to learn how to access community resources appropriately, to learn parenting, budgeting, shopping, communications and job skills in order to become self-sufficient.
We believe we have a very successful model of moving families with children from homelessness to housing, one family at a time.
During their stay at the Out of the Woods facility, parents and children are in a round-the- clock supportive environment with a home-like atmosphere in a welcoming, rural environment. This alone is huge, especially for families that have been living in unsafe or inadequate facilities.
But in addition to food and shelter, the reason for Out of the Woods’ success since the 2005 reorganization is the complete array of services (“wraparound”) that is provided to each family member, tailored to the needs of each, which may be quite divergent.
So the stay at Out of the Woods is not a mere stopgap or Band-Aid but usually, a cure. Out of the Woods has been able to fulfill and exceed its mission, as well as its small but key role in the Thurston County 10-year Homeless Plan. Most notably, the organization has achieved a 90 per cent success rate. That is, 90 per cent of its clients remain in permanent housing for at least 6 months after leaving, and most (?) many of them much longer.
Essential elements of Out of the Woods’ successful model include:
To deliver its program, OTW works closely with other social service and housing agencies that serve this population. Intake for OTW has evolved and is now exclusively through the Family Support Center, (with whom OTW has a Memorandum of Agreement as shown in Appendix 1). Consequently each family admitted has a Family Support Center case manager and Intensive case management. Each assigned case manager works closely with the OTW Coordinator, Selena Kilmoyer, to aid the family to develop and then implement its own individual program for moving from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The necessary “wraparound” services to stabilize a particular family range may include:
Out of the Woods is governed by an all-volunteer OTW Board of Directors that meets at least monthly. The shelter is staffed by experienced personnel and trained volunteers – the backbone of the program.
OTW is operated by a collaborative effort between OUUC and the OTW Board, under a Memorandum of Agreement. OUUC owns the OTW shelter building, and is responsible for its maintenance, and pays for half the utilities. The OTW Board is responsible for the shelter programming and operation. The Memorandum of Understanding with OUUC to that effect has been in place since the OTW shelter was reorganized and reopened as a “24/7” residential facility for children and their care-giver(s) in December, 2006. Representatives from both the boards (OUUC and OTW) and our minister have met regularly for several months to coordinate efforts and plan for the future of the Out of The Woods shelter program.OTW is named in the 2010 Thurston County Ten-Year Homeless Reduction Plan as a key provider in helping the county reduce the number of homeless children and homeless youth.