Remodeled service station opens near homeless 'rest stop' sites

EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene Service Center for the homeless has reopened after a remodeling project.

St. Vincent de Paul executive director Terry McDonald and Mayor Kitty Piercy both noted the location of the Eugene Service Station on Highway 99, is close to the 2 sites approved by the City of Eugene for legal homeless camping "rest stops."

The project came as the Eugene Service Station saw a significant increase in the number of homeless adults needing services.

Original estimates were at 50 people per day in the early days of the center; over the years, the reality is more than 200 per day, the nonprofit said.

St. Vincent de Paul received a grant of $189,716 via a City of Eugene Community Development Block Grant to enlarge and renovate the station on Highway 99. The updated center features 75% expanded seating space and a new commercial kitchen.

SVDP local director, Terry McDonald, says the center on certain days is getting close to 300 homeless visitors a day and needs the space. He says it also means more access to programs that helped people like 25 year old Danielle Henderson, now a volunteer at the service station.

Henderson says she became homeless 5 years ago after the death of her mother. She met her future fiance at a homeless camp and got pregnant. Both were battling drug abuse and Henderson says her baby was born positive for marijuana and meth. The state took custody of the boy, but that devastating event prompted the couple to kick drugs.

"And we've been clean for 16 months and our boy is 17 months. We've been working with DHS the whole time," explains Henderson. Long story short--after securing housing and taking other steps, Danielle says she's scheduled to regain custody of Jayvan on December 14Th. She concludes, "It means my life. I finally get my baby back."