Hodge helps homeless: Commissioner spearheads drive to fund New Hope Kitchen

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

ONTARIO — A local kitchen that feeds the homeless will stay open until the end of the year, thanks to a funding drive spearheaded by Malheur County Commissioner Don Hodge.

Nyssa, Ontario, Vale and Malheur County will each donate $2,500 to the New Hope Kitchen in Ontario. New Hope Kitchen replaced Harvest House Missions, the nonprofit based in Ontario that served homeless and others in need. Harvest House closed down at the end of 2016 because of a lack of money.

“This is a one-time thing to at least help get them through the rest of year,” Hodge said.

Project DOVE, the Oregon Food Bank and Community In Action united early in the year to provide a facility money to replace Harvest House but could only continue the effort until the June 30. The new program, dubbed New Hope Kitchen, operates in the former Harvest House location at 381 N. Oregon Street in Ontario.

Harvest House was a day shelter for homeless individuals and furnished those in need with showers, food, Internet access and assistance with a variety of other items.

Hodge said he was motivated to helped after a homeless task force meeting last winter.

“I was sitting at home and thought, if we could get $10,000 that would be a big help,” he said.

The county, Hodge said, already approved a $2,500 donation to New Hope Kitchen. Ontario and Nyssa also approved a $2,500 donation and Vale is in the process of granting its share.

The money will ensure a critical community service remains visible, said Angie Uptmor, housing program manager for Community In Action, the Ontario non-profit agency that oversees New Hope Kitchen.

“The money is huge. We are serving a lot of folks so it is necessary and needed,” Uptmor said.

Uptmor said New Hope Kitchen serves between 25 and 30 people a day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the homeless can take showers as well.

The meal site is open from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Uptmor said the effort by the county and cities is important.

“Homelessness is not a Community In Action issue but a community issue,” said Uptmor.

Ontario City Manager Adam Brown said the joint effort was needed.

“It is important for us to take care of that population and, obviously, working together with the county and the other cities is a benefit,” said Brown.