I thank you for the editorial piece in The Olympian Sunday. I am writing to clarify a couple of points.
First Christian Church has reached out to the City of Olympia staff and City Council many times over the past year asking how we could be most useful in working with the city and the camps. We received in return kind emails thanking us for the work we have done in the past, but offering no information on how we might be helpful to the current situation. The city has never indicated that it was seeking a faith community to step in to help the Fourth Avenue Bridge encampment develop a system of self governance.
I took a tour of the camp last week and met with campers who are leaders within the camp. They asked for our help, indicating that they need us to meet with them once a week to help build strong leadership and strong camp rules so that self governance can be effective.
First Christian has the experience, history and willingness to do so. We have agreed to adopt the camp. I sent letters to city council last week letting them know. I plan on attending the council meeting Tuesday night to make a statement to that effect as well.
No one believes that the encampments in Olympia are the best we can do, but given the current climate and lack of resources we believe allowing the 20 or so campers left at the Fourth Avenue Bridge to shelter in place is the best option at this point. We believe that by partnering with the campers to help them develop strong self governance in partnership with the city and other nonprofits that are already providing support services, the camp can be a safe and stable interim while we all work on a more humane and sustainable solution.
The Rev. Amy LaCroix, First Christian Church, Olympia