Girl Scouts at Mary’s Place – Let’s Go Camping!

Mary’s Place has a Girl Scout troop that meets weekly to learn, sing, play, and get some time away from thinking about anything else but being together with friends! The troop is made up of girls of all ages! Recently, KIRO Radio’s Rachel Belle visited a troop meeting and talked to the girls about how they came to Mary’s Place, what they like about Girl Scouts, and the one thing they’d love to do most: GO CAMPING! Check out her story here: Homeless girls join their first Girl Scout Troop at Mary’s Place

UPDATE! The troop has scheduled their first overnight camping trip for early September and we need some supplies! Can you help make this trip possible? We have a list of items to make a camping trip possible for 20 girls, donations have already started coming in here’s what we still need:

  • $100 gift cards for groceries

Items can be donated or you can order and send directly from our Amazon Wish List!

Cash donations (make yours in honor of Scouting) will help us buy supplies and any extra will be used to start a fund to support troop activities for girls and boys in the future!

ANOTHER UPDATE! We have received all the camping items on our list, thank you so much!!  We could still use some help making sure the girls can buy food for their camp out! We’ve started a Scout Fund to make sure we can support this trip and  future scouting endeavors going forward, we’d like to expand our scouting program to other shelters!

Amazon to Build a Permanent Mary’s Place Family Shelter Within Its Seattle Headquarters

First-of-its-kind facility will provide 24/7 shelter and services for more than 200 homeless women, children, and families each night

SEATTLE – May 10, 2017 – Mary’s Place announced today that Amazon will donate more than 47,000 sq. ft. of space within Amazon’s newest headquarters building as a permanent home for a Mary’s Place Family Shelter. This first-of-its-kind partnership will include 65 rooms, which will shelter more than 200 homeless women, children, and families each night.

“To have a permanent downtown Seattle location within Amazon is a game-changer for Mary’s Place and the families we serve,” said Marty Hartman, Executive Director of Mary’s Place. “We’ve loved being Amazon’s neighbor, and now the opportunity to move into their headquarters permanently is truly a dream come true. This unique, first-of-its-kind shelter will remind families that they matter and that their community wants to help them succeed.”

Watch footage of Amazon’s surprise announcement to Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman

“Mary’s Place does incredible, life-saving work every day for women, children, and families experiencing homelessness in the Seattle community,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We are lucky to count them as neighbors and thrilled to offer them a permanent home within our downtown Seattle headquarters – Amazon employees and Mary’s Place residents will move in together in early 2020.”

In April 2016, Amazon provided Mary’s Place with temporary use of a vacant building on its growing urban campus – a former Travelodge hotel. Amazon upgraded and decorated the building and included utilities for more than 200 family members while awaiting construction of a new building. Construction at 2213 8th Ave is scheduled to begin in the fall, and Amazon will work with Mary’s Place to temporarily move the families to another former hotel across the street as it builds this new, permanent home.

The new Mary’s Place shelter will include a family resource center similar to those at Mary’s Place Family Centers in North Seattle and White Center where more than 40 local nonprofits and teams of community and corporate volunteers join Mary’s Place staff onsite to provide services and work with families to help them secure permanent housing and employment.

Amazon employees are frequent visitors and volunteers at the existing shelter – bringing meals, organizing arts and crafts projects, throwing parties for the families, and more. By sharing permanent space with Mary’s Place, Amazon employees will now have even more opportunities to volunteer and support the organization and the families they serve.


About Mary’s Place: Mary’s Place empowers women, children, and families to reclaim their lives by providing shelter, nourishment, resources, healing and hope in a safe community. They operate several family night shelters that work to place families in stable housing by providing employment, housing, financial, and wellness resources. More info is available at,, Press Contact: Linda Mitchell, Director of Communications,, 206-334-4687

About Amazon: Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @amazonnews.

Nick’s Story

To my friends in Seattle who drink coffee, and let’s be honest it’s pretty much all of us I just want you to please take a second and give the article a read and maybe watch the video and get a little closer look at some of our neighbors.

These people aren’t always the bad, the lazy, or the uneducated sometimes it’s real genuine people who have come up against tragedy in life. It can range from a building being sold to a property developer, a owner raising rent because the new tech employee can afford the new price and you can’t but all that matters to the landlord is money in the pocket, or as it was 3 years ago for my family a medical tragedy.

Some of you may not realize this but a little over 3 years ago I had spinal fusion surgery after waking up paralysed in the middle of the night. During this time my family became homeless because my wife had to take medical leave to take care of our two boys, once that was over she sadly had no job to go back to and we ended up loosing our apartment. They lived out of our car, low cost hotels, and friends couches while I was in rehab learning to walk again. Sadly we all know the hospitality of friends can’t last forever, eventually with the promise of a job we moved to Seattle to find even worse housing obstacles then Albuquerque had. Once here the cycle started again and I ended up back in the hospital but thanks to the love and compassion of Mary’s Place when I came out of the hospital this go round we had a stable place to live together as a family.

Mary’s Place has been a blessing to our family in so many ways, they gave us a place to live and to heal when we needed it the most and during that time we met new friends and learned about ourselves and the human spirit. Thanks to them we were able to spend time together as a family in a safe environment while taking advantage of all the resources they offer to find permanent stable housing.

Mary’s Place is a place of stability for my family even today as my beautiful wife Charlotte Wheelock has taken the opportunity she earned through hard work and dedication and run with it as she is now Mary’s Place Housing and Wellness coordinator. She now gets to give what was once given to us…. HOPE.

So please if you can once December rolls around give the loose change (or more!) at your local King County Starbucks to Mary’s Place. After that maybe give your time and volunteer as they can always use tutors or some one to play with the children so parents can have a precious 5 minutes to themselves.

Thank you for a moment of your time and Happy Holidays,


Original Voices

Julie Gardner has been leading a weekly writing workshop at Mary’s Place for over five years. Workshop participants range in age from young adult to senior and include women who are currently homeless and some who have found their forever homes but come back for class, and to share their stories of trauma, abuse, addiction, job loss… but also of empowerment, courage, and appreciation. The workshops and writings help the women work through issues, strengthen self-esteem, and find renewed hope.

From the workshops, Julie has compiled and edited 126 writings, along with photos and images, in a recently published book, Original Voices: Homeless and Formerly Homeless Women’s Writings. The book includes a foreword by Pat Schneider, author and founder of Amherst Writers & Artists. The book, a labor of love, is unique and inspiring. Contributing writer, Kristine Bagby, read a poem by Jennifer Hamilton, below, at our Spring Luncheon in early May. The book is currently available at Amazon for $14.00, proceeds from the book go to support Mary’s Place shelters and programming. You can follow this story at the Original Voices facebook page!

For So Long I Did Not Have a Voice Jennifer Hamilton

For so long I did not have a voice
Trampled and broken I was silenced
Like so many of us.
It may seem like a small thing but,
You heard.
I feel so grateful
From my depths I thank you.


Mary’s Place and Amazon Team Up to Transform a Vacant Hotel into Shelter and Stability!

Friends of  Mary’s Place know how it breaks our hearts to have to turn families away at night when there is just no more room. So many of you have responded to the call when we’ve raised money to open new shelters – but the need continues to grow. We are excited to share that a recent gift from Amazon has doubled our capacity to bring families inside!

On April 18th we opened the doors to the Mary’s Place Guest Rooms, an old Travelodge hotel in downtown Seattle that Amazon has provided rent-free for one year and converted to shelter for 200 family members. Filling a need in the homeless community, the Guest Rooms will also accommodate extended families and families with pets.

In response to the civil state of emergency declaration on homelessness, Amazon reached out to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office to find out if their building could be used by Mary’s Place as an emergency family shelter. Construction on the facility isn’t scheduled until Spring of 2017, and Amazon saw a unique opportunity to partner with Mary’s Place to ensure that no child sleeps outside in our community.

Not only has Amazon gifted the building, but the company is also covering utilities and the costs of upgrading and converting the space. Hearing about the project, Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel donated hundreds of desks, chairs, and tables from the hotel to outfit each of the rooms.

We are so grateful to all the individuals and organizations that have made it possible to open this life saving shelter – Amazon, Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle City Council and all our friends at the City of Seattle, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Kinzer Partners, Tom Kinzman, Perkins + Will, GLY Construction, Coughlin Porter Linden, and our amazing site search committee, led by Kris Richey Curtis.

Amazon has also partnered with Mary’s Place to provide an easy way to access our Wish List to donate supplies for the new shelter:

Look for an information to the Guest Rooms Open House Celebration soon!

My Fiancé Dumped Me a Month Before the Wedding, So I Turned It Into a Charity Event

Dana's mom, Karen, dancing with the guests!
Dana’s mom, Karen, dancing with the guests!

The person I thought was the love of my life called off our wedding one month before we were supposed to get married.

I’m trying to think of something funny to say about it, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m making super-gentle jokes, like “I’ll probably be ready to go on Tinder in about 15 years” and “Well, I didn’t faint today, so that’s a score.” Actually, you can’t really call those jokes. They’re basically my small way of showing my family and friends that I still kind of have a personality and I’m probably not going to kill myself.

Even though I’m not really in a jokey mood, I want to tell this story because I’d never heard anything like it. Weddings get cancelled — I get it — but not like this.

I thought my ex and I were happy together. We had known each other for 15 years and been in a serious relationship for the last three of them. We were engaged for a year, and we were going to get married six weeks from when he dumped me.

Invitations were out. Three weeks before he broke up with me, we bought wedding rings. Five days before he broke up with me, we met with our would-be wedding photographer. Three days before he broke up with me, we asked some of his family members to play music at our ceremony. On a Sunday, we opened our reply cards and sipped on champagne while talking about who was going to get the most drunk at our wedding.

That Wednesday, he walked into our apartment and told me we weren’t getting married.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who would have said of us, “Yeah, I could have seen that coming.” We were happy. At least, I was happy, and we looked happy on the outside. That’s all I can know.

You’re probably thinking that I’m delusional. I’m not. (I know, I know; that’s exactly what a delusional person would say. But really.) Of course we had issues. Every couple has issues. We argued about stupid things. We had our moments of tension. I also believed we had a beautiful, loving relationship that we were going to honor with marriage and bless with children.

He, obviously, had other plans.

It’s been six weeks since he called off our wedding. We were supposed to get married last Saturday. I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what happened. But I’ve come to realize that I will never know why a person I loved — and who loved me back — doesn’t want to marry me. All I know is that he doesn’t.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, you’ve still gotta throw a party.

The day after my ex dropped the bomb that I was a bride-not-to-be, I realized that not only was my heart broken, but I was broke. My family had paid for what was supposed to be a beautiful, fun, 250-person wedding. We were out tens of thousands of nonrefundable dollars. (His family had also paid for a small portion of the wedding — they were out some cash, too.)

I spent the next few days trying to figure out how we were going to manage to not throw a bunch of money down a super-sad drain. (I also spent a fair amount of time crying and drawing in therapeutic coloring books, but that’s neither here nor there.) The venue we’d booked made it clear that just because we were planning to have a wedding that night didn’t mean we were contracted to have a wedding. We could do whatever we wanted with the venue. We’d paid; it was ours for the night. It was also too late to cancel the band; they were ours, too.

I’ve heard of cancelled weddings being turned into birthday parties, anniversary parties, “Yay, I’m Single Now” parties, but I didn’t want any of that. I didn’t have anything to celebrate. Still, I wanted someone to have a good night.

I started to think about who would appreciate a good party. My family and friends and I weren’t exactly in the mood to go wild, but I knew there were all sorts of people in the city who would love a night out.

My parents and I decided to donate the event to an organization in Seattle called Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter in Seattle that focuses on helping women and their children find permanent housing, employment, and hope for the future. (Mary’s Place is rad; if you live in the Seattle area and you’re looking for volunteer or donation opportunities, check out their website.)

Of course, I know that one night of dinner and dancing isn’t going to make a huge difference in these women’s lives. But hey, at least they got to get their hair done, eat some good food, and put on their dancing shoes. The event was my family’s small attempt to turn what’s been an awful situation for us into something positive for other people.

And I’ve gotta say, throwing the party has pushed me into a better state of mind. I don’t know how, exactly, but turning the would-be wedding into an event for women in transition has made me feel a little less desolate. It’s helped distract me from the fact that I’m a jilted bride, that a broken engagement will always be part of my life story. It’s taken me out of my head, which has not been a fun place to be. And as corny as it sounds, it’s made me feel like part of a sisterhood.

My mom attended the event. And between the two of us, she definitely should have been the one to go; she worked incredibly hard to plan the never-gonna-happen wedding, and she worked even harder to transition it into an entirely different event with just over a month left to go. She told me it was just as amazing as we wanted it to be. As soon as the band started playing, the kids rushed out onto the dance floor. My mom said the families had a blast.

And as for me? I didn’t go. If I were a badass, I’d have gone to the event that was supposed to be my wedding and danced my face off with a bunch of awesome women.

But I’m kind of a wimp, so I did the only thing I could think to do on that sad Saturday night: Xanax and chill.

Dana Olsen’s post appeared on xoJane on January 19, 2016. Dana’s generous gift to the families of Mary’s Place was covered locally by KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, and the Seattle Times.

I don’t live anywhere, we live outside.

Lauri posted this at the site, shared here with permission.

Hey folks – the below is about an experience I had the last time I chaperoned a field trip at Oscar’s school. Homelessness is not theoretical or distant in my community; it is present, immediate, and heartbreakingly human. If you have the time/bandwidth/resources, please read, share if you like, and donate if you are able to do so – thank you!

The bus ride home from the field trip is long; the kids laugh and chat and hang out of their seats and point at the lights-flashing police car. As we come back into the city:

“Hey, I’m right down that street!” “See that brick wall, behind the corner store? That’s where I live!”

The boy in front of me turns to speak to just me:

“I don’t live anywhere. We live outside.”

And I want to ask him if he’s joking, trying to pull one over on the gullible adult as kids so love to do – then I notice that his pants are far too short and the corduroy is almost worn through.


I am thirty-nine years old.

I know thousands of words.

But I am lost at what to tell this child –

<oh God I’m so sorry>
<it’s going to be okay>
<is it?>
<I love you>
<This should not be happening to you>

All I can do is focus on being present. On not looking away. On holding my own discomfort to one side. On fully being with him, here, witnessing.

It feels like far too little.

It feels too close to nothing at all.

I smile at him, hope my eyes are shouting

<I love you>
<it’s going to be okay>

He smiles back.

“My mom tells me to have faith in God – help is on the way.”

And before he can see the worry in my eyes – I have no such faith – he turns back in his seat, to his friend pointing at the store we’re passing.

I wrap my arm around my own son, happy next to me on that long ride home. I squeeze him close and he has no idea why.

The distance between them is . . . paper thin, is tissue, is nothing at all.

I feel so lucky that it hurts, an ache in my chest and eyes as we pass our street, just blocks from home – our cozy, warm, safe home, full of food and toys and books. A pet fish and a balcony garden – such riches it is almost unbearable.

The distance between us is . . . sheer luck.

I look at the seat in front of me.

Nothing very very good or very very bad ever lasts for very very long – right?


His mom, I think, is stronger than he knows

now she’s got me praying too.

A new wig for Jolene

Jolene was born with a rare genetic disorder called anhidrotic ectodermal dysphagia that results in baldness, nail deformation, and teeth erosion. Jolene’s mother, brother, and daughter all have the disorder and it has affected each of their lives. Jolene started losing her hair when she was in third grade. By the time she was 11, she was almost completely bald. By age 13, she had the limited number of teeth she had left pulled and was fitted for dentures.

Jolene’s got her first office job at age 25 in an accounts payable department. She was qualified and well educated, but she never felt like she fit in. It was obvious that her co-workers didn’t feel comfortable with her appearance. Even though Jolene would often wear a wig to work, if the wig was wet from rain or washing, she sometime had to wear a headscarf. She noticed how people looked at her differently, and more and more employers would tell her that the head scarf was not work appropriate and insist that wear a wig. She was self-conscious and kept to herself. She didn’t have many work friends and felt isolated.

There were bright spots. There was one job, where she stayed for five years, where she was surrounded by a supportive and caring group of co-workers. She finally felt accepted, not judged, and confident in her work and life. It made such a difference!

Unfortunately, over the years, Jolene has come to realize how uncomfortable people are with her baldness. Her current wig is wearing out, losing hair, and looking tattered. She can’t afford to buy a new one. Jolene has found a new job and wants to make a good impression and fit in. She wonders if any of our generous and caring friends have a wig that they would donate to help her step confidently into this new page of her life?

UPDATE: January 29, 2016

Thanks to a generous donor (and several other generous offers!), Jolene has her wig and loves it!

IMG_0814 IMG_0815

The Generous Gift of Bob’s Blocks

Bob Mitchell, a resident at Bayview Retirement Community, makes wood block sets for our kids in his workshop in the basement at Bayview. The kids love them, especially because they come in personalized bags, and they recently got a chance to meet Bob when he made a trip to the Day Center. Thank you to Heather Graf and King 5 News for telling this wonderful story! Bob’s Blocks

“What you take with you when you leave that night and your mom tells you you’re not going to return to your home is really just your basic necessities,” said Mary’s Place Director, Marty Hartman. “Every kid wants that, they want something to have of their own, a favorite toy, something they can carry around. And Bob makes that possible.”

Note from a single father

Dear Mary’s Place,

I saw the story about the north Seattle shelter on KING 5 last night. I am so so glad to see you are helping single fathers. There was a time only a few years ago, I had only $150 to feed my four young boys. I went from owning a home in an expensive neighborhood, to near homeless. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. When I looked for help, it just wasn’t there. Depressed, scared, lonely, I just prayed and prayed and cried for a few years.

A big obstacle for me was the shame I felt of being a man, and needing to ask for help. There seems to be very little emotional support and/or understanding for single fathers. My kids have a mother that only sees them three times a year, for six hours, by choice – and people still think there must be something wrong with me; that no mother could just leave her kids. But that is just not true.

Things are better for me now, but our society must give more attention to single fathers. We don’t grow up watching mothers with the idea that we may be mothers some day. We feel ashamed to ask for help. Single fathers are much more common than people know. It’s hard to meet a life partner in this circumstance, and people are less inclined to open their doors up to men in need. It’s a very lonely and scary place sometimes. Anyway, thank you for helping these men out.

A single father