Medford community collaborating to find solutions for the homeless

Medford, Ore. —  When Grace Point Fellowship church moved to the old Larson’s building on Fir Street, it was intentional. The 50,000 square foot space in the heart of downtown, provided an incredible opportunity for outreach, but has it’s challenges too. Tonight an effort is underway to address some of those hurdles.

“Being here where we are on the railroad tracks,  it’s a daily routine to go around and pick up needles,” senior pastor Tom Sabens says.

When Pastor Tom Sabens moved Grace Point Fellowship to 10th and Fir last fall, helping the homeless ranked high on his list of priorities. Soon after they settled in to their new home, the church began providing hot lunches to the homeless.

“Started off with about 30 to 40, but the last time we did it we had over a hundred people,” Sabens says.

But with the service came an increase in issues, and not long after they started, “Ladles of Love” was put on hold.

“There was increase of drug use maybe that was filtering over to our neighbors and we were made aware of that,” Sabens says.

“They recognize that there’s problems,” Lt. Kerry Curtis of the Medford Police Department says.

An effort is now underway to address some of those issues. It’s called the Downtown Project. Medford police are working with city leaders and downtown businesses to figure out solutions for addressing the growing homeless population.

“Trying to get our officers more in-tune and really focused on not only providing resources for the transient population but having them disperse,” Lt. Curtis says, “and that’s the challenge for us, because when they do

While it’s not an overnight fix, many agree it will require community collaboration. And until there’s a more permanent solution, the folks at Grace Point Fellowship continue to find ways to help.

“We’re making sleeping mats for the homeless,” Cindy Kastner says, “it takes about 700 bags to make a mat.”

The new project is just getting started, but they hope with the community’s help, the homeless will have one less challenge on the streets.

“To have something like this that keeps them out of the wet, cold ground, is very helpful,” Kastner says, “it’s a good way to be able to give to others and it makes your life just so much more complete.”

The Downtown Project will be releasing more information about their effort soon, be sure to check back for updates. Meanwhile, if you have plastic bags you’d like to donate to Grace Point, they accept clean plastic bags at their location on 10th and Fir in Medford.

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