Ministry Highlight | The Sunrise Outreach Center
Ministry highlights are intended to give churches fresh ideas on how they can serve their local communities. The Sunrise Outreach Center (SOC) serves those affected by poverty in the Yakima County, Washington area.
Sunrise Outreach Center Executive Director & Co-Pastor, Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Yakima
Yakima Vineyard Co-Pastor & SOC Executive Director Dave Hanson shares about the heart of the ministry and the ways they see God working in those serving and being served.
We were to get rid of everything we owned and relocate to an area in the city of Yakima called “The Pit.” This was my calling after a long career in quality systems management. I was to be an outreach pastor—something I knew nothing about.
We moved into an area where there were several gang houses. In the coming months we were hit with graffiti nearly every day. We wanted to do something, so we painted our house—and the two next door. We put in a flower garden and a light in the alley. No more graffiti. We started knocking on the doors of the gang houses and asked if we could read to their kids. They said yes.
There was a small food pantry at the Yakima Vineyard, but we were turning many people away because we’d run out of food. We needed help. We had to answer the question, were we going to limit what we did by the size of our church, or were we going to attempt to meet the need and invite others outside our church to help?
Sunrise Outreach Center
Sunrise Outreach Center (SOC) is a Yakima Vineyard ministry purposed on partnering with the Holy Spirit to love and serve people struggling through the effects of poverty. We include neighbors wherever possible to build community. Our approach is twofold: first, to provide basic needs (food, water and shelter); secondly, to employ prevention strategies targeted at interrupting the ongoing cycle of intergenerational poverty.
Hunger and homelessness are so large a problem in Yakima County that a proportionate response requires collaboration and localized community mobilization. There are many people here in need and others who want to help. We’re interested in both. We see God working as much with those who’ve come to help as those they’ve come to serve.
SOC operates as a separate non-profit 501c3. This enables other churches and community partners to participate. As a model, the board holds two Yakima Vineyard board members in order to maintain Kingdom vision, but other positions are given to multiple church and community partners.
The same holds true for the intercessory team which meets offsite in a backyard workshop every weekday morning for an hour to pray for those who serve, those they serve, and our community.
What’s Being Done
There are four focus areas: feeding families, housing (from beds to homes), community mobilization, and organizational networking. The first two describe what’s being done; the latter, how we do them. SOC runs four weekly food pantries and another monthly across Yakima County. There is also a provision for weekend meals to children within two elementary schools experiencing the highest level of poverty.
SOC runs a soup and sandwich ministry weekdays at the Yakima Vineyard. All the community outreach and food banks are run with volunteers and all the food comes from community in-kind donations, school weekend meals notwithstanding.
We buy nutritionally-balanced food for the children and supply it in bulk to the local high schools. Students there bag the food into weekend allocations; administration then transfers them to the elementary schools where counselors place them into the backpacks of designated children with highest need for the weekend.
SOC also runs a licensed Youth Residential and Education Center (YREC) program for youth within the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE’s) spectrum. YREC specializes in teens (12 to 18) who have been sex trafficked or otherwise exploited. There are three homes which operate 24/7 providing education and service opportunities to help youth heal and reach a sustainable outcome.
There are three homes for people who have successfully gone through drug and/or alcohol treatment and need a safe, supportive environment to recover and heal. This is supported by a local Celebrate Recovery program.
We’ve networked with many collaborations and other organizations. SOC has a management support partnership with another non-profit called TYT (Transform Yakima Together). This has enabled development of a new case-managed, year-round homeless shelter for up to 120 people, including couples and families.
This includes a progression for some of our guests to transfer to tiny homes which are placed on church properties for community support by those churches. Two homes are already in place. Through that same partnership, all 27 schools within the Yakima School District are formally partnered with churches for summer STEAM curriculum and after school programs.
Honestly, for the most part I still don’t know what I’m doing. . .but trust that God does; so I say yes.
To learn more about the Sunrise Outreach Center, visit their website here.
To learn more about the Yakima Vineyard in Yakima, WA, visit their website here.