Spokane Collaborates, Responds to Community Needs at Spokane Resource Center

Spokane Resource Center Specialist, Shauna Meharry, offers support to visitor

Brightly-colored abstract watercolors and sketches from local artists and local renderings of famous abolitionists like Stephen Douglass frame the spacious second story room in the Worksource building on South Arthur Street. The moment you walk into this space, it’s apparent that this is not your standard social service agency. The design resembles a miniature city, with overhead signs directing clients to “Peer Mentoring,” “Re-Entry Services,” “Employment” and other areas related to community needs.

Shauna Meharry has spent five seasons at SNAP, spanning coverage at three different offices. This spring, she started as a resource specialist at the Spokane Resource Center (SRC), marking her most unique role at SNAP to date.

“Down in this area, the variety of services is way larger,” Meharry says.

While the services she provided at other SNAP offices were more specialized, Meharry says that at the SRC, she needs to be ready to address “everything under the sun.”

This all-in-one approach that Meharry describes is part of the basic design of the SRC. This center was designed as a one-stop program through the City of Spokane joining forces with Worksource to provide “services for folks who need housing, are underemployed, underserved, under-housed,” said Jennifer Morris, site manager of the SRC. SNAP is one of 13 groups at the SRC, producing a collaborative model to stabilization for our neighbors.

Meharry recounts a woman who came into the center with tears streaming down her face. She was a former medical professional who was just released after spending time in jail for an accidental vehicular assault that resulted in the death of her husband.

“Her husband was the love of her life,” says Meharry, “and now she’s out of jail, staying on her daughter’s couch, with no idea how to restart her life.”

Meharry explains that at the SRC, staff’s role is to be a connector to services. That’s exactly the role Meharry served with this.

“She needed someone to really listen and give her ideas,” Meharry says. Following their conversation, Meharry referred her to behavioral health services that were the best fit to this woman’s next life steps.

While Meharry recalls there being collaboration and communication with other agencies at the standard SNAP offices, she also notes that “it’s not the same as having everybody in one room.”

When a client walks into the SRC, they sign into the front desk where that specialist will take you around to the various agencies and provide a warm pass-off according to availability and need.

Says Meharry of this process, “if someone doesn’t know something, it’s easy to ask and put our heads together to find the best resources.” She adds that this model “works out to everyone’s benefit.”

Even though there are 13 groups represented at the SRC, that doesn’t stop Meharry from continuing her education to help the SRC community even more. She recently took diversion training to serve as a better resource for our neighbors.

“There are a lot of homeless folks who have taken an assessment and don’t qualify for services,” Meharry says. “Diversion comes in to help give other options.”

SNAP and Meharry’s approach to continue to grow and develop skills to better help the client is indicative of SNAP’s commitment to this collaborative community solution and helping people reach their human potential.

“It is not waiting in line, take a number,” Mayor Condon explains. “It’s not calling someone forward from behind a sea of cubicles to help that person. It literally is focused on the client, on the person.”

This community approach is as local as the artwork decorating the center’s walls.

“We are reducing barriers as a community,” Meharry says. “That’s invaluable.”