The development of Community Ministry at Seattle Mennonite Church is an outgrowth of SMC’s vision for peace and justice as followers of Jesus Christ. SMC understands that a neighborhood’s response to people experiencing the trauma of homelessness, is exactly that, a corporate, collaborative response. To that end SMC seeks to partner with local residents, businesses, and agencies in generating a grass-roots, person-centered effort to companion people who are experiencing homelessness.
As Seattle Mennonite sought to be faithful to what God sets before us, fellowship meals were initiated with people experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood. The congregation had been getting to know this group of folks already, as the church was preparing bag lunches for day laborers and showers/laundry for those day laborers who had no other place to clean up after a days work. Out of those early days of breaking bread with each other, there came a call for personal storage and transportation support. The response was the initiative Stop, Drop, and Roll (SDR). SDR’s goal was to provide belongings storage and transportation to allow community members access to critically needed services and employment opportunities not available in Lake City. Stop, Drop, and Roll was open every Thursday between 6 & 8 am and 6 & 8 pm, and was operated out of the church foyer off of 125 th St.. On July 1 st , 2008, we moved Stop, Drop and Roll to 12517 33 rd Ave. NE, into a house owned by Seattle Mennonite Church, and named by the homeless community as ‘God’s li’l Acre’.
Our present and future
With the beginning of construction of Valor Apartments, a veteran’s housing project that is being built by Community Psychiatric Clinic on property purchased from Seattle Mennonite Church, the day center program has moved back into the church foyer at 3120 NE 125th St.. We will run the day program in the church until the new day center is completed within the Valor Apartments building in early 2015. The current location includes daily drop-in hours Monday thru Friday (9am-12pm), during which time people can access: laundry facilities, showers and hygiene, community kitchen, internet and phone, resource referral, food closet, nursing care, personal storage, blankets and clothes, and a safe, secure place to just ‘be’.
Our hope over time is that programming will be added to the core drop-in schedule that will support the rebuilding of relationships of support and trust so needed by people experiencing homelessness. Recovery from the trauma of homelessness is long-term work, and our hope is to be patient, goal-oriented supporters of people in recovery.
Other Seattle Mennonite programs benefiting people experiencing homelessness
- The congregation hired Community Ministers , who began their work on June 1 st , 2007. Their role is to offer spiritual care, reaching out and engaging homeless people, extending hospitality, and connecting people with resources and referrals when desired. The Community Ministers will work with Seattle Mennonite to develop future programs, do public education, liaison with community partners, and develop the resource base available to the homeless community in Lake City.
- Seattle Mennonite coordinates weekly community meals at GEORGE (125th St. NE) to continue dialogue with the homeless residents of the neighborhood as well as other neighborhood stakeholders. We continue to gather feedback, suggestions, and information on needs and abilities in this forum. Thanks to the interfaith support of local faith communities, these meals are provided every Sunday.
- SMC facilitates the Lake City Task Force on Homelessness , which gathers each month (2nd Friday 3:30-5:00pm) at the Seattle Mennonite Church to share insights and efforts on ways to address the concerns of homelessness in the Lake City neighborhood. Goals include information sharing, strategizing, visioning, inviting participation, and collaborating.
- In partnership with Community Psychiatric Clinic, construction is underway to build a 21-unit housing development for Veterans with disabilities, called Valor Apartments. The project will be completed in early 2015.
- In partnership with Seattle University College of Nursing, who have been volunteering with us for years as a learning environment for nursing students, we have established a hotel-based medical respite program called JustHealth.
- Seattle Mennonite is the host site for a monthly Dental Van from Medical Teams International. This service is free for the patients.
Volunteering and Support
If you are interested in connecting with people experiencing homelessness in Lake City, and becoming part of the community of support, please contact the SMC Community Ministers:
Jonathan Neufeld – firstname.lastname@example.org
Melanie Neufeld – email@example.com
Phone: 206-361-4630 ext. 7
Day Center Phone: 206-306-5453
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