Spiritual Strength Spokane Counselor Fights to End Abuse and Hunger

By Lind, Treva | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), September 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Spiritual Strength Spokane Counselor Fights to End Abuse and Hunger


Lind, Treva, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


If you go

What: Cleone's Closet open house

When: Noon Oct. 2

Where: 13114 W. Sunset Highway in Airway Heights

Info: By Oct. 4, Cleone's Closet plans to start food distributions three times a week, from noon to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It also offers a rentable community space for activities and meetings.

Healing from abuse is a lifelong process.

Mable C. Dunbar knows about that personally. She grew up experiencing some physical and emotional abuse.

However, Dunbar said she experienced God's healing and that inspired her to help others.

Dunbar is founder and CEO of Women's Healing and Empowerment Network, which began in 2008 offering programs to address domestic violence and sexual abuse in faith organizations. For nearly a decade Dunbar has served as director of Frieda's Healing Center, a 4,100-square-foot shelter in a confidential Spokane County location for women and children who can stay up to six months with counseling support. The shelter can house five to six families, and people who stay are from across the U.S., Dunbar said.

Dunbar's outreach doesn't stop there. She is helping to reopen an Airway Heights community food bank, Cleone's Closet Food Pantry, with plans by Oct. 4 to offer distributions three times a week in partnership with Second Harvest food bank and other community members.

Named after a woman who was abused, Cleone's Closet, at 13114 W. Sunset Highway, also will have limited clothing and household supplies for people in need, including women fleeing abuse, Dunbar said. She and nonprofit members first opened a Cleone's Closet three years ago with food distribution and a thrift store, but it closed more than a year ago when the building they leased was sold.

Dunbar considered closing Cleone's permanently, but then people in the community urged its return, she said. Jacob Powers, pastor of the Heights Church in Airway Heights, offered to help secure donations. He found someone who purchased a dedicated space for Dunbar to reopen a food closet and community center.

A Baptist church in Airway Heights is the only other entity offering food bank distributions twice a month in the city, Dunbar said.

"Pastor Jacob said he knew what we're doing, and that there is such a need in the community," Dunbar said. "We do have to pay rent and utilities, but with the church and different partners, they have come together and said they would help Cleone's Closet to stay open."

Cleone's also will rent a front-room space for community events and classes. Spokane Regional Health Department has a contract to use it regularly for parent-child educational activities, and other organizations can rent it for $20 an hour, she said.

"Right now, we have an organization that will be using it for Bible studies and meetings. I will be using it to run support groups for victims of abuse. I'll be doing training, workshops and seminars. It is going to be an educational facility."

Powers said he invited people to meetings to discuss how to continue Cleone's outreach. The city of Airway Heights is considered to be a high-level "food desert," a phrase describing when residents of an area have limited access to fresh fruit, vegetables and other whole foods because of affordability, availability, distance or limited shopping options. …

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