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.”

Mary’s Place Honored with ‘Outstanding Organization’ Award

SEATTLE – May 14, 2014 – The Seattle Human Services Coalition is honoring Mary’s Place with the Outstanding Organization Award as part of its 2014 Human Services Awards. “The Awards Committee was incredibly impressed with the high caliber of all the organizations doing inspirational work in our community,” said Julia Ismael, the SHSC chair for the Human Services Awards Committee, “Mary’s Place stood out as exceptional among all the heartfelt nominations.”

Mary’s Place is one of the few places that offer crisis response night shelter and day center services for homeless families with children. In addition to addressing basic needs such as food, safety and medical care, Mary’s Place provides a welcoming and accepting environment where homeless women and their children can build community and find resources to help them restore their lives. “There are so many people who give their time and talent to make Mary’s Place a warm, safe place for our families” said Marty Hartman, Executive Director, Mary’s Place, “we are humbled by this honor and mindful that there is still much work to be done to help bring homeless women and their children inside to safety.”

During the past 15 years, Mary’s Place has served thousands of women and children in its three family night shelters and expanded-services day shelter. Next month Mary’s Place will open its fourth family night shelter and welcome single men with children along with moms and dads with children. Despite an improving economy for some, the need remains great. In King County there are more than 5,100 homeless families, with an estimated 450 spending nights in places that are not safe. Learn more about our new shelter and ways to help.

Mary’s Place and other individuals and organizations honored by the Seattle Human Services Coalition will celebrate their awards on Thursday, June 5th, from 5:30 – 7:00pm in the Bertha Knight Landes room at Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Seattle Washington. All are welcome to join, RSVP is requested at shsc@shscoalition.org. Interpretation is available if requested by May 19th.

A Place To Call Home!

With over 30,000 homeless students in our state, over 5,100 families registered in King County as homeless, and at least 450 families sleeping in places that are not safe, we are finally able to say, “Come on in, we’ve been waiting for you!”

We are excited to announce that Mary’s Place was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the City of Seattle to open an emergency family shelter. We want to thank Mayor Ed Murray, the City’s Human Services Department, and the Seattle City Council for their commitment to providing safe shelter for families and children; and for their confidence in our cost-effective model for saving lives, building community, and restoring hope on the journey out of homelessness. A special thanks as well to our agency partners at Family Housing Connections, Catholic Community Services, Low Income Housing Institute and Seattle King County Coalition for Homelessness for their support that made this funding possible.

Our newest night shelter building is located in the Cascade neighborhood of Seattle just east of South Lake Union and will accommodate single women with children, single men with children, and moms and dads with children on two floors. Thank you to the architect, design, and planning angels at Perkins+Will for their help turning this office building into a temporary home for up to 30 families!

Families will arrive at 5:00 p.m. and have time for homework, games and play before sharing dinner together at 6:30 p.m. Then, showers, crafts and story time before bedtime and lights out at 9:00 p.m. During the week, families will leave the shelter at 8:00 a.m. to catch their taxi’s to school, go off to work/class or transition to the Mary’s Place Day Center for help with housing and employment resources. The shelter will be open all day on Saturdays and Sundays so children can get extra rest, run around in their jammies before exploring the park across the street, make their own lunch, and discover free activities in the city with their family and new friends. It truely will be, A Place to Call Home.

Our new building is waiting for you, too! We are launching a fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to add showers, laundry and a kitchen as well as staff for evenings and weekends. You’ll be getting information about that campaign in the mail soon and I hope you can help. In the meantime, you can contribute to the effort by donating online or sending a check. More information about how to give is here. Besides funding, we have other needs as well:

  • Can you share your talents with us? We are looking for: contractors, electricians, and plumbers!
  • Can you donate materials? We need lumber, drywall, shower stalls, sink & faucet, 2 refrigerators, 2 freezers, microwaves, tables, chairs and a wall-mounted TV to start!
  • Can you come be with us? We need meals brought in every night, volunteers to play with our children, and to talk to our parents. Share your resources with us!
  • See our full wish list here

It will take all of us to fill our new building with warmth, food, hope, healing and love to make it… A Place To Call Home!

Thank You, Pearl Jam!

The Vitalogy Foundation supports the efforts of non-profit organizations doing commendable work in the fields of community health, the environment, arts and education and social change. $2 from each ticket sold from the majority of Pearl Jam concerts is placed into the Vitalogy Foundation. As board members of the foundation, the members of Pearl Jam allocate Vitalogy Foundation funds to a number of non-profit organizations that they personally select.

We were surprised and thrilled to learn that Mary’s Place was selected by band member Stone Gossard to receive a donation from the Foundation of $10,000! As a thank you to Stone and the band, the kids at Mary’s Place recorded this version of Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe.

What does Tom Douglas have in Common with Homeless Women and Children?

Image: Chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, along with his Pastry Chef Stacy Fortner, visit Mary’s Place for a community breakfast with council member Jean Godden.

Stories — that’s what I always want to hear. And hear them I did on a recent Wednesday morning at Mary’s Place.

Mary’s Place is a day shelter for women and children. In fact, it is the only day center in King County that accepts homeless women with children. It holds a monthly breakfast and invites community members to attend.

On the overcast April morning when I showed up, there were about 70 women and children assembled at the Belltown shelter, breakfasting on coffee, fruit, and pastries. The sweets — buttery croissants and savvy muffins — were treats from the Dahlia Bakery, donated by superchef Tom Douglas. When I arrived, I was taken on a tour of the welcoming shelter. The facility has two bathrooms where homeless women can shower and do their laundry. There’s a room where young children can play and there are staff members and volunteers who help women find scarce transitional housing.

One of the first stories that I heard was told by our volunteer tour guide. She said her church had just adopted a new Palm Sunday tradition. “We usually carry palm fronds and place them on the floor by the altar. This Sunday,” she said, “we covered the floor with coats. Then we collected the coats for Mary’s Place. They’re over there, hanging on a rack by the door. Anyone needing a coat can take one.” Mary’s Place is like that, a loving community where you feel instantly at home.

I toured the kitchen and, there, of course, was Tom Douglas himself, a giant teddy bear of a man, making sure that there were enough baked goods for the multitudes — nearly 100 women and visitors. Shortly afterward, around 8:30 a.m., Executive Director Marty Hartman welcomed us to the monthly breakfast and invited the women there to tell stories about how they’d come to Mary’s Place to help regain control over their lives and move forward. The stories were touching — a woman who was conquering drug abuse, a second woman who had escaped domestic abuse, and a third who was recovering from misfortune and illness. All three said that at Mary’s Place they felt safe and comfortable and discovered resources to find housing and financial aid.

When my turn came to tell something of my story, I talked about how I’d written about Mary’s Place when I was a reporter. But I was also able to introduce Douglas, who has been such a great supporter. It had been my privilege to write about Tom ever since his days as a chef at Café Sport at Pike Place Market.

One of the greatest stories from this period, one I’ve never shared before, concerned a fundraiser at Seattle Central Community College. Douglas was getting an award, one citing his work with the culinary program. During the dinner, he wandered off and ended up in the kitchen. When he returned, he said, “These kids are cooking with a terrible mismatched set of pans.” With that, he passed a dented pot and those of us in attendance filled it with enough bills to buy the apprentice cooks a new set of cookware. It was a magnificent, unforgettable gesture; one that, you could say, gives new meaning to the term “panhandler.”

Like Tom, many of us feel as if we should take up panhandling on behalf of those in need. At Mary’s Place, there are many needs. And, although there are no dented pots to fill, we could contribute some of the following: bras and underwear (new or gently used), socks (black especially), pajamas and slippers, feminine hygiene needs, shampoo and manicure sets, coffee gift cards, and cans of hot cocoa mix. Donations of cash, too, of course, are welcome. We can all help write new endings to the stories that they tell at Mary’s Place.