Puyallup: News

Homeless advocate’s legacy at New Hope Center to be reflected in new sign

Homeless advocate and local pastor Eric Renz died as a result of his injuries after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bike home from the center in November 2014.
Homeless advocate and local pastor Eric Renz died as a result of his injuries after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bike home from the center in November 2014. Staff file

A simple nametag with “Eric” emblazoned on it hangs on the wall at the New Hope Resource Center in Puyallup.

It stands as a memorial for homeless advocate and local pastor Eric Renz, who died as a result of his injuries after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bike home from the center in November 2014.

Renz was known to always greet guests of the center with a warm smile and always took a genuine interest in their lives.

“He was always so welcoming and always had a smile on his face,” said Phyllis Smith, a longtime fellow volunteer from Puyallup’s First Presbyterian and friend of Renz. “He welcomed everybody in.”

To continue that welcoming legacy that Renz left behind, the center is installing a sign and plaque out front to honor the longtime homeless advocate, using money left behind from Renz’s memorial.

When the center opened Nov. 1, Renz volunteered there four days a week, and volunteered with Freezing Nights for six years. While Renz was only able to volunteer with the center for a few weeks until he was struck Nov. 24, his memory lives on amongst volunteers, staff members and guests of the center.

According to Cheryl Borden, executive director of New Hope, a lot of Renz’s belongings were also left to the center.

“Everybody knew him because he worked in Freezing Nights,” Borden said. “He was part of the Homeless Coalition, and active in social justice.”

While the loss of Renz was irreplaceable for the center, officials from New Hope have used the money left to them as part of his memorial to set up a database to keep information on their guests — and replace the Domino’s Pizza sign out front.

“A new sign would be really expensive for the organization,” Smith said. “It’s over $1,000.”

The sign dedication is set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2 at New Hope, located at 414 Spring Street in Puyallup.

“He did a lot of good, and touched a lot of people,” Smith said.

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