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Efforts to serve the homeless and disadvantaged in North Lincoln County have taken a major step forward with the merger of the Lincoln City Warming Shelter (LCWS) and Communities Helping Addicts Negotiate Change Effectively (C.H.A.N.C.E.).

The two groups decided to join forces after a series of talks aimed at identifying areas of overlap in their missions and exploring ways to deliver services most efficiently.

“This is wonderful news for our community’s ability to tackle homelessness, addiction and the long list of associated issues that come in their wake,” LCWS President Patrick Alexander said. “By merging our effort with a proven and innovative organization such as C.H.A.N.C.E., we can ensure that every dollar spent in this area gets put to the best use.”

LCWS will be moving to a new address at 4488 NE Devils Lake Blvd, Lincoln City and expect to be fully moved in by Sept. 1. During this month all services will continue at the Taft location and they will host their last Project Homeless Connect event on Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are currently looking for volunteers to help move, clean, etc.

C.H.A.N.C.E., which already operates in Albany, Lebanon, Corvallis and Newport, works to help people with mental health- or substance abuse-related issues make positive changes in their lives.

“C.H.A.N.C.E. wants to offer recovery support to those who seek help, that are high utilizers of the ED and jails, and other social service agencies,” said C.H.A.N.C.E Executive Director Jeff Blackford. “Our goal is to help people who have been marginalized or through addiction have taken from the community, to become self-sustainable and to help them become contributing members of our community.”

Incorporated in 2015, LCWS grew out of a volunteer project of the Congregational Church of Lincoln City. Since November 2016, it has provided resource assistance to 868 people and opened its doors on 131 nights to provide severe weather shelter.

The organization has been searching for new premises from which to operate its daytime resource center and overnight severe weather shelter, a process Alexander said would improve by joining forces with C.H.A.N.C.E.

“This move will put the warming shelter operation on a much more solid footing, with access to more stable funding and greater organizational capacity,” Alexander said. “The severe weather shelter will serve as a valuable outreach tool for C.H.A.N.C.E. as they work to address the needs of our community’s disadvantaged population.”

The mechanics of the merger will see LCWS dissolve its operation, transferring all assets, liabilities and responsibility for all programs, including the overnight shelter, to C.H.A.N.C.E. LCWS Program Director Amanda Cherryholmes and Volunteer Co-coordinator Sharon Padilla have already been hired by C.H.A.N.C.E. and will lead the group’s on-the-ground efforts in Lincoln City. Several members of the LCWS board have expressed willingness to serve on the C.H.A.N.C.E board of directors, with those applications to be considered in due course.

C.H.A.N.C.E. will continue to utilize the Lincoln City Warming Shelter brand for its operations in Lincoln City, and donations will still be accepted in that name.

“C.H.A.N.C.E. is dedicated to being a partner in the community and have representatives that reflects the consumer base and members from the business community from the communities we serve,” Blackford said. “We are looking forward to continuing to offer the services that have been provided by LCWS and to provide our other services and programs to effect a positive impact to the lives and our communities.”

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