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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Home to mega-shelter

Members who once fumed about the idea now pull the overnight shifts

The promise of a job draws a young family from Ohio. But they find no work in Vancouver, Wash., where the high-tech, timber and fishing industries are down. They land in a shelter at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, joining the new homeless that the pastor, Jim Stender, sees so much of now.

A homeless man makes his bed for the
A homeless man makes his bed for the night at Winter Hospitality Overflow, a shelter initiative at St. Andrew Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church, both in Vancouver, Wash. The mega-shelter is open from November through March.

For nine years, St. Andrew and nearby St. Paul Lutheran Church have helped the homeless as part of one of the biggest shelter initiatives in the Pacific Northwest: the Winter Hospitality Overflow, or WHO.

Every day from November to March, WHO swings open the door to its sites when all other Vancouver shelters are full. That's all the time.


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