By editorial board • 

If we pull together in harmony, no problem ever looms too large

Next week, volunteers will do their best to tally an official count of the local homeless population. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the county to conduct such a count every other year, but the county has elected to conduct one every year instead.

The count requires a major effort on the part of community members to achieve its goal. That’s also true of the homeless problem itself, of course, and on a sustained basis.

Fortunately, there is currently more discussion and action than ever before in Yamhill County. Ministries, agencies and individuals are all uniting in hopes of achieving the seemingly impossible goal of ending homelessness once and for all. 

Another milestone occurred this month with the opening of a new shelter in Newberg, under the banner of Helping Hands of Yamhill County. It frees 14 men at a time from the ordeal of living on the street.

Shelter manager Mike Pollack admitted, “It’s a lot to add to my plate.” Ending homelessness is a lot to add to the community’s plate as well, but a step in the right direction can be as simple as a board game.

A new monthly program called Community Piecing Together, featured in last week’s News section and today’s Community section, was launched to address social barriers between the housed and unhoused. “We all have common ground,” explained Elise Hui, executive director of the Housing Authority of Yamhill County, as her teenage daughter played a game of chess with a homeless counterpart.

Attendees have bonded over art, games, stories, music, food, conversation and more. “My daughter mentioned she plays the flute, and found some of the people she was playing chess with also played the flute,” Hui noted. 

Community Piecing Together seems like a tremendous way to find comfort in a mostly uncomfortable social issue. We encourage members of the larger community to attend the next session of the program, which runs 5-7 p.m. every second Thursday at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries.

We envision those two hours proving as beneficial to mainstream residents as the homeless. The more diverse elements of the community gather, the stronger its social fabric becomes.  

When this year’s homeless count is completed, the first thought of many is likely to be, “Wow, that sounds too big to fix.” Just remember, it doesn’t have to be fixed in one fell swoop. With patience, persistence and creativity, we can achieve success the old-fashioned way — one step at a time.

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