We need Halloween costumes!

Halloween is just around the corner and we need costumes for our kids, moms, and dads! You can help our families enjoy the spooky festivities by donating Halloween costumes! We are accepting any new or gently used costumes for boys and girls, men and women of all sizes!
(Please, no swords, light sabers, or anything can potentially be used as a weapon.)

You can order online and have them shipped to us (9 S. Nevada St, Seattle 98118) or drop them by! The deadline to donate costumes is October 19! You can find our drop-off locations here.

Thank you!!

Collaborating for Change

At Mary’s Place, we often partner with other, like-minded community organizations to help our families get back on their feet and succeed. Through partnerships with organizations like Dress for Success Seattle and the Urban League of Metropolitan King County we’re better able to assist families who lack housing or face other economic challenges by connecting them with the tools and resources they need. Working together enables us to amplify our reach and impact!

One of the allies we share with these other organizations in carrying out our work is Uber because access to convenient, reliable transportation is a major factor in a person’s ability to avoid homelessness, find a job, and break the cycle of poverty.

Through Uber’s Community Impact Initiative (CII), each of our organizations has received free rides that we share with our guests and clients. These ride credits make a real difference in many people’s lives, and they’ve allowed our organizations to collaborate more effectively.

For example, Dress for Success Seattle receives a large number of clothing donations each week, but not all of those clothes are professional women’s attire, which is a core offering of the organization. The surplus clothing can often be used, however, by Mary’s Place guests. We use the donated trips to send Mary’s Place guests to the Dress for Success Career Center for fittings and interview coaching.

Similarly, we help empower many of our guests by connecting them with jobs and other workforce development opportunities through the Urban League’s Career Bridge job-readiness program, which develops pathways to economic opportunity for African Americans in King County. Career Bridge participants use Uber CII ride credits to get to and from classes, job interviews, and other important meetings. The Initiative also funds Mary’s Place Empower U Internship program, a program that gives employment training and experience to our guests.

Since we began partnering with Uber through the CII program, more than 2,000 free rides have been taken across the three organizations. Each of those rides removes a barrier to accessing opportunity, and is a  BIG step in the right direction! Thank you, Uber!!

Holiday Giving Tree Tags are here!

Ho Ho Ho! We need your help to fill the Santa Store with gifts for parents to give to their children, and for kids to give to moms and dads at our annual Holly Jolly Holiday Party! Our Giving Tree Tags program is a great way to get involved and help Mary’s Place families enjoy the magic and joy of the holidays!

You can request any or all of these tags:

  • Shoe Tags request a $20 donation for a new pair of shoes. Checks can be written to Mary’s Place and we’ll purchase a gift card for a new pair of shoes for each of our guests!
  • Toy Tags are gifts for parents to give to their children and see their smiles this holiday season!
  • Parent Tags are items that will stock the shelves in our Santa Store where kids will shop for the perfect gift out for their parent(s)!

Choose tags and distribute them to your group, ask them to buy the item on the tag (or make a $20 donation for a pair of shoes) and return them unwrapped (but DO attach the tag securely to the item) to the Mary’s Place Donation Center at 9 South Nevada St by Friday, December 7. Drop off hours are Monday-Friday, 9 am – 3 pm. Check back for additional hours!

Email giving@marysplaceseattle.org to request your tags!

HNN and Mary’s Place Working Together to Help Families Experiencing Homelessness

HNN Associates, a property management company based in Bellevue, has partnered with Mary’s Place, to help make a difference in Seattle and King County. HNN is part of an organization that develops, constructs, owns, and manages multifamily housing with a primary focus on affordable housing in the Puget Sound area.

“The vast majority of households that we rent to have incomes less than 50 percent of area median,” said Philip Nored, President, HNN Associates, in a recent interview. “We focus our growth around those areas of need.”

HNN’s partnership with Mary’s Place started in Fall 2017 as a company-wide desire to expand their philanthropic partnerships related to homelessness. Mary’s Place was the perfect fit. The nonprofit addresses the basic needs of the community’s most vulnerable residents: women, children and families experiencing homelessness, and works to place them back into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

“We partner with landlords to provide access to affordable apartment homes for our families and ensure their tenancy is successful,” said Ashley Kenny, a Mary’s Place Housing Manager. “We met with the wonderful team at HNN to talk about the HNN communities and the barriers to housing facing Mary’s Place families. We are so grateful for this partnership.”

Mary’s Place worked with HNN to create a customized plan that outlines how they will work together and allocates responsibilities—including those of the residents. The plan includes screening criteria, streamlined application process, tax credit paperwork, identifying apartment homes, the move-in process, and stabilizing services to assist residents in the months following move-in.

“Mary’s Place is doing a lot of the heavy lifting with placing their client families,” said Alison Dean, HNN’s Director of Operations & Strategy. “It feels great to be working with them to empower these families to take back their lives. Mary’s Place shows clients where apartment homes are related to their needs, helps them through the phases of application, and really communicates with our team openly throughout all stages.”

The HNN and Mary’s Place teams have bi-weekly calls to identifying challenges, update processes, and adjust workflow for smoother outcomes. At the community level, if an issue comes up it is escalated to resident relations, so HNN and Mary’s Place teams can work through it together.

“New residents can still need some stabilizing the first several months,” said Dean. “They may need some financial assistance to help through the transition. We work together with Mary’s Place to identify the needs and connect residents with resources to ensure success, address issues, and resolve challenges before they become a bigger problem.”

Part of the HNN mission is to provide affordable housing in a caring and compassionate way. This now includes an initiative that offers staff 16 hours of volunteer time-off (VTO) to volunteer with Mary’s Place or other community organizations.

“Some of our staff volunteer with Mary’s Place and our future goal is to hire Mary’s Place guests to be facility coordinators, community managers, maintenance workers, and more,” said Nored. “We see our involvement with Mary’s Place as an ever-evolving positive relationship.”

Dean says HNN’s work with Mary’s Place has given everyone at HNN a deeper level of understanding and commitment to their mission, seeing first-hand “the power of families getting those keys.”

Through their partnership with Mary’s Place, HNN has helped house 106 clients—most with children—since September 2017. Mary’s Place wants to partner with landlords to provide access to affordable housing for area families and ensure their residency is successful. This includes strategies for reducing the risks in order to maximize the success of a community. Partnerships like the one between HNN and Mary’s Place gives clients with housing barriers such as evictions, poor credit, or low income, a second chance at housing.

“We talk a lot about fostering an attitude of gratitude and we’ve certainly worked hard to be where we are, but we feel an obligation as an affordable housing provider to be part of the solution when it comes to homelessness,” said Nored. “Our partnership with Mary’s Place is a big part of our success delivering on that goal.”

Mary’s Place is looking for new landlord partners to help meet the need of local families experiencing a housing crisis. Email ashley@marysplaceseattle.org for more information.


Thank you, JJ!

Long-time Mary’s Place Board chair, JJ McKay, has recently assumed a new role of Immediate Past Chair for the organization.

He was more than the Board chair at Mary’s Place – he’s a passionate advocate, an amazing relationship builder, a whip-smart strategist, and a loving mentor for our staff, women, and families. He has helped shape Mary’s Place into the organization it is today, and set us on a path to achieving our BIG dreams of tomorrow!

JJ joined the Board in 2009 ensured that we could grow our programs and services each year. He helped us find, and move into and out of 18 different homes! Since joining the Mary’s Place Board, he has:

  • grown our budget from nearly $400,000 in 2009, to today’s $11,000,000
  • grown our staff from seven people in 2009, to over 200 full and part time employees who run our Day Center and ten family shelters today
  • grown our capacity to bring families inside from our start in 2009 to 650 beds today, and 425,103 bed nights
  • helped us to provide 1,077,531 meals since he joined the Board
  • brought many helping hands to serve our women and  families resulting in 263,601 volunteer hours since 2009

JJ has initiated and advocated for programs that lift up, inspire, help, and heal our women and families. Under his leadership Mary’s Place was able to offer:

  • jail ministry for women who knew they would be homeless when released
  • Bacon and Bling, a much-anticipated event at the Day Center where each woman gets a delicious BLT sandwich and a piece of costume jewellery, in honor of his late mother. Held every Valentines Day to remind the women at our Day Center that they are valued, loved, and not forgotten.
  • Rest beds that he advocated and fundraised for, knowing women that were victims of rape and assault, needing chemo or dialysis or just out of surgery had no place to recover and heal
  • the annual Holly Jolly Holiday celebration and Santa Store that he started, to bring joy to children and relief to parents needing holiday gifts for their children
  • our first housing program, to provide hotel vouchers to families when we didn’t have shelter beds and he knew we had to act
  • Taylor’s Fund, named for a cherished friend at the Day Center, to ensure women who passed without means for a proper memorial could have one
  • bus tickets, when our women were struggling to get to and from the doctor, employment, and shelter
  • a successful No Child Sleeps Outside fundraising campaign – and he worked relentlessly to bring us to our goal
  • and so much more!

He is our big brother, our friend, our neighbor, our super hero. Thank you, JJ, we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Our First Permanent Home!

We are so excited to announce that we have partnered with generous donors, the Caputo Family, to purchase the former Lakeside Milam Recovery Center in Burien. Like our family centers in North Seattle, Northshore, downtown Seattle, and White Center; the new Burien building will provide housing and employment resources during the day and shelter for up to 200 moms, dads, and children each night! Thank you to the Seattle Times for this great story about the new site!

A committee of mostly volunteer real estBurien Site frontate, property, legal, construction, and architecture professionals, our Site Selection Committee, help us to locate buildings and convert them quickly and efficiently into “home for now” for our families. A “dream team” of firms, including Aspect Consulting, Buchalter, Cochran Electric, GLY Construction, Kinzer Partners, McCullough Hill Leary PS, McKinstry, Pacific Rim Environmental, Pacifica Law Group, Perkins+Will, Seneca Group, Snyder Roofing, and Talon Private Capital, came together to provide more than $50,000 in in-kind and pro bono services for our purchase of the Burien property.

The building, a former drug and alcohol addiction treatment center with private rooms, a commercial kitchen, large common areas, medical facilities, and parking, will become a Mary’s Place 24/7 Family Center to provide services for single and two-parent families experiencing homelessness in the community. The location will also be a home for our Popsicle Place program, providing services for homeless families with medically complex or critically ill children.

“Homelessness is a persistent issue in Washington that has only grown more acute over the last decade,” said Mark Caputo. “In the Burien area, more than 6% of students in public school experience homelessness on a daily basis.  We are gratified to partner with Mary’s Place to take one step in addressing this issue and provide children and families in our community with needed support services that create a foundation to build upon.”

Lisa Caputo added, “We hope that this innovative model of partnership with highly capable organizations like Mary’s Place can be replicated to serve the needs of other communities in Washington and elsewhere around the country.”

We will organize several volunteer work parties in the next few months and plan to welcome families to the new shelter sometime in July. If you’re interested in learning more about how they can help, email our volunteer team for more information!

The Day Center Community

Mary’s Place is a refuge for women and families that each day feeds, clothes, and shelters more than 700 individuals each day, with more 700 different reasons having brought them to one of our eight sets of doors. I work at the Mary’s Place Day Center for single homeless women. At the Day Center, we provide an amazing service; everyday we feed and clothe 70-120 women of all sorts, shapes, and sizes. We connect them to the resources they need and give them the bus tickets to get there. We provide showers and necessary accoutrements, computer access, and a place to make a phone call. We open our doors every day to provide space for women to shed rain-soaked layers and slump off the weight of their bags to float to an ever-reliable fountain of coffee. We schedule appointments with our in-house housing and employment specialists, we scoop out steaming ladles of food for breakfast and lunch until every stomach is full. Most importantly, though, is that every day we provide what many of our guests are most hungry for—connection, and dignity.

When I do check-ins for a program we partner with at Mary’s Place, one of the questions is “Do you have any strong and supportive relationships to help you get where you need to be?” The answer is often a pause, and then “well, Mary’s Place.” As if they mean to say, “Of course it’s here.” For so many women, Mary’s Place is their community. They come here not just for their physical survival, but for the survival of their sense of humanity. We are the place where they are reminded that they are worthy. Where they can knit and bead and share and receive a smile and a check-in. Where they know they’re seen, even if only because someone remembers their name. Remembers that they’ve just been reconnecting with their child or sibling they’ve been out of touch with for years but found because someone helped them to set up a Facebook or email account on our computers.

Our women are the ones so often ignored while they try to keep hold of all their belongings on the bus, or walking from day shelter to night shelter. But here, they are reminded that they are still worthy. Worthy of trips to the ballet and the tulip fields in spring, and of the hours of staff and community volunteers and partners that keep our doors open. The women who come through the doors of the Day Center are loved, and we believe (not in part because our guests tell us so) that it’s that love and the community that forms around that love that is the true core of Mary’s Place. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such a precious haven in our city, and I’d encourage any who feel moved to volunteer with us—in our kitchen, behind our hygiene desk, painting nails, teaching watercolor—or to reach out to create partnered activities with your business or organization. There are so many ways to be involved, and so many women, children, and families whose lives will be brightened by your willingness to join us.

Heather Ellis, Mary’s Place Day Center Staff

National Volunteer Week

In celebration of National Volunteer Week we want to share some stories of our AWESOME volunteers, like Wim! Here’s what Wim says about his volunteer experience!

From the time I walk in the door at Mary’s Place I can feel the warm welcome, the smiles from behind the counter, the giggly little kids. Caring is a culture that spreads from staff to guests to me every time I come to volunteer. When I walk around the building chatting with guests they seem relaxed and at home. Yet, when I sit with them to talk, they are eager to get on with their lives, to find a place of their own to live and, for those who are not working, to find the job that will open the door to the rest of their lives. I suppose every volunteer feels like what they do brings the deepest satisfaction. It ought to be that way. For me, helping guests find that home of their own, or the job that will turn things around is the best of all. I’m not sure I always bring hope to them, but I know they always bring hope and a smile to me.

Thank you, Wim!!

Join us as a volunteer! http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/support-us/volunteer/

Nycolle’s Stay at Popsicle Place

Nycolle is a single mother, taking care of three medically fragile children. Her oldest, Jossiah, is eight and struggles with severe ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and learning disabilities. Her middle child, Karlah, was born with heart, lung, and kidney issues. She had heart surgery when she was a baby and takes medications and treatments each night to keep her lungs from collapsing. She is connected to a machine for treatment every 24 hours. The baby, Krystoffer, is almost three and has a permanent feeding tube, his medications must be kept refrigerated. Nycolle is not able to work and take care of all three children’s very demanding medical needs; she and her family receive government assistance.

The family had an apartment that Nycolle could afford on her fixed income until she discovered black mold that had Karlah in and out of the hospital with breathing problems. With immune compromised children, Nycolle needed to find a new place to live quickly. She wasn’t able to find a place she could afford so the family moved into their car before coming to Mary’s Place and our Popsicle Place program.

At Popsicle Place, families get nutritious meals, supportive care coordination, and access to Mary’s Place medical staff and volunteers in private rooms to limit exposure. Since its inception in 2016, Popsicle Place has been home to 30 families.

“If it weren’t for Popsicle Place, Karlah would have continued to be in and out of the hospital,” said Nycolle. “Being at Mary’s Place gave me peace of mind, knowing we had electricity for Karlah’s treatments and refrigeration for Krystoffer’s medications. It let me focus on keeping them well!”

Last month, Nycolle, Jossiah, Karlah, and Krystoffer found a large, 3-bedroom house with a yard in Spokane that was very affordable and they are safely and happily moved. Nycolle transferred to a community college in Spokane where she is continuing work on a nursing degree.
The generosity of our community makes programs like Popsicle Place possible, thank you for your support!

Saying Goodbye to a Very Special Friend

Last month we said goodbye to a dear friend of Mary’s Place. Donna Stirton helped shape Mary’s Place into the organization that it is today. Donna was an active member of Plymouth Church and instrumental in obtaining our first Change Grant from Plymouth.

She was a founding member of the Mary’s Ministry Team in the late ‘90s, treating Mary’s Place women like they were her own daughters and sisters, and one of the first volunteers to prepare meals on Saturday’s. Donna ensured that meals were special and every table was decorated and festive.

Donna became a professional floral designer, and as Mary’s Place grew, she took on the task of creating beautiful floral arrangements for nearly 100 tables at our annual fundraising luncheon, a huge task that she took on happily each year. Donna served on various committees over the years and in 2017 was recognized as Mary’s Place Volunteer of the Year.

Donna always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. She was passionate about Mary’s Place and found her calling here; working, loving, and caring for all of the women, children, and families.

Thank you, Donna. You will be missed.