Kirkland TV: Currently Kirkland – #269 – New Bethlehem Day Center

By | August 31, 2019

Do you wanna take a piece of paper and draw
something. A lot of these families are working there they want their kids to do
well in school they want them to go to a four-year college and get a degree and
they’re they’re just like you and me. These families are guests at the new
Bethlehem Day Center. It’s a place for them to come during the day to relax, eat
a meal, shower, do laundry, help the kids with homework. It’s a safe place and it’s
comfortable and it’s especially important because these families have no
other permanent homes. Holy Family Parish in Kirkland began envisioning the
project back in 2014. They identified homelessness as an issue to address.
Volunteers reached out to other organizations actively serving homeless
populations to get ideas about the need in the community. About the same time
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland created a new congregation called Salt
House. Parishioners there wanted to start a ministry in the community that
would make a difference. The two groups have teamed up with other faith-based
organizations to form the new Bethlehem project.
Kim Saunders help develop the original vision for Salt House. I really believe
that those that experience begin experiencing homelessness for a variety
of reasons that they are a victim of a broader system that is really not
established well to serve them and so we want to be a part of the solution there.
This is only a small part of that. Clearly, having a place to stay during
the day a place to be to be safe to be cared for to be seen to be acknowledged
is crucial. Natalia Pearson is the program manager
at New Bethlehem. The space is for them and we want to make sure that they feel
welcomed here and we are open Sunday through Friday 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. we
provide a place for people to do their laundry take a shower we serve a snack
when we first open and a meal around 5:30 so that kids can
have snack when they got out of school or parents gonna have a meal when they
got off of work. Salt house parishioners work with the new Bethlehem team and
Catholic community services to operate the center. Volunteers help with the
day-to-day tasks. The doors opened in November of 2016.
Obviously the center is fulfilling a need. In July of this year nine hundred
guests came through the doors that’s an average of 35 individual family members
a day. One of the benefits of new Bethlehem is that we’re a family shelter
which means any adult with their minor child so that can be single mom it can
be a two-parent household it can be a single dad which prior to us there
wasn’t really a spot for father’s to go with their kids and so we recently had a
single dad come in. He was struggling with some addiction issues but because
he came here we were able to refer him to a treatment center, get sober and work
on that continuous sobriety. We were able to get him connected with health
insurance for his son who has some special needs and refer him to a housing
program. Now he’s housed he was referred to an Employment Program and is
looking forward to start within the next couple of weeks so that he can you know
be able to afford the housing and eventually maybe even earn too much
income so that he can you know take the step and get into different housing and
really work on the needs of the son to prepare him for school next year I think
he’ll be going to kindergarten. We know that having a place to sort of take a
breath is just a start we believe that we need to be creating an environment
and a place that is a hub for services to this population that currently
doesn’t exist on the Eastside. A lot of our guests it’s their first experience
into homelessness and you don’t know where to start just imagine if you were
evicted or lost your housing where would you start
and so case manager is here to be able to point people in the direction of how
to get connected to the resources whether it’s food stamps medical care
housing employment services so they can come here and get refer it out to those
those services that they can get back on their feet.
For many people it’s not a permanent state it’s actually a point in time
where they’ve experienced a job loss or a medical issue that has created a
situation which results in a temporary situation of homelessness and I think we
have to think about the surrounding issues that are supporting that. While the new Bethlehem project is focused on getting people
back on their feet it is only the beginning for families struggling to
continue on a path out of homelessness Our goal is to build a 24/7 shelter for
families with children and single women it would be 24/7 so that the people
would have a place to be all day long so they don’t have to hop around
different places. I’m looking forward to having that on on the east side because
at this time we send them all the Seattle because there is no place that
has a 24/7 shelter on the east side not for the families not for singles well
Sophia Way and congregations have some small shelters but not for families.
The City of Kirkland is working with a Regional Coalition for Housing, New
Bethlehem, Salt House, Catholic Community Services and the Sophia Way to build a
permanent location to shelter adult women and families with children. The
process is still in development but an 80 to 100 bed unit is planned in the
meantime new Bethlehem continues to fill an unmet need so when I think about the
next step in building a building that will be a shelter that will support this
population of homeless families as well as women’s single women experiencing
homelessness we they need a place we need a place where does all the services
that are necessary the sort of wraparound services can be provided
while people are in this transitional place. Our volunteers when they leave
they get to go home just like me I get to go home and
my the guest that walked through the store don’t have that luxury
and so it’s made really homelessness real for me despite working with clients
for years like this this has made it real that like these are amazing
people that are just currently unhoused they definitely deserve the same respect
as all of us.

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