Two people entered the Senior Services for South Sound building on Monday, and caused nearly $2,000 in damage and stolen property, prompting a number of community members and organizations to provide donations of money and food to the organization.
Brian Windrope, executive director for Senior Services for South Sound, told The JOLT that the burglary was caught on video surveillance, which was handed over to police.
According to Windrope — who described events as they were seen to unfold on the surveillance footage — a staff member at the building, located at 222 Columbia St. NW, was doing some work on Monday, unintentionally leaving it unlocked as they left. The building was closed that day for Presidents Day, and was meant to be locked.
About 20 minutes later, at around 1 p.m. Monday, a woman approached the building and tried to open the door. Finding it unlocked, she entered the building.
“And she was delighted, she came in, looked around and saw that there was all this food and a dry, warm place,” Windrope said. The woman left the building, and got a man’s attention, directing him into the building.
The lobby of the building had served as a storage place for dried foods, to help keep up with an increasing demand for the organization’s Meals on Wheels program.
The two were in the building until the early hours of Tuesday morning. Windrope said the two stole equipment and ate food, ruining some food by opening packages that needed to be closed. Windrope said they caused other various damages to the interior of the building.
“We had just a mess to clean up, and separate from that is the feeling of violation, you know. We are a senior service organization. This food goes to the most needy and vulnerable seniors in our whole community — people who can’t cook for themselves,” said Windrope.
Earlier estimates of damage and food loss came to about $1,000, but that number has since been recalculated, tallying closer to $2,000.
“The silver lining is people expressing their sympathies and support,” said Windrope. They’ve received donations of money and food, but Windrope didn’t have an estimate yet on how much they received in donations. Parks Department staff helped clean the building on Tuesday, and the Senior Action Network has chipped in with food donations. Other area agencies have also offered their support.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the center closed down its hot meals served on-site, instead opting for delivery through entirely through Meals on Wheels. The number of customers served rose from around 200 to as high as 500, and is now leveled off to around 450, said Windrope.
The break-in and theft of the food didn’t hinder the Meals on Wheels program, though, because additional food is stored away in case of emergency events.
Windrope expressed thanks for the community members and organizations who have leant their support thus far. Senior Services for South Sound accepts donations in the form of checks, or they can be made on their website (https://southsoundseniors.org/). They’re also on the lookout for people willing to volunteer as Meals on Wheels drivers or to help with their other services.