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    Mary’s Place – Empowering homeless women and their children to reclaim their lives

    Today I – along with about 600 other supporters – attended the Mary’s Place Spring Benefit Luncheon.  Mary’s Place is a day center in Seattle for homeless women and their children.  It’s the only one in King County that welcomes women along with their children.

    After involving more than 50 homeless women to develop the program, Mary’s Place was established in 1999 with a grant from the Boeing Community Fund.  These 50 women developed a program including two meals a day, hygiene facilities, showers, laundry, medical care, support groups and resources for housing, employment and benefits.  This structure exists today.

    Today’s event was consistent with Mary’s Place empowerment model supporting women to take control of their own lives.  Women whose stories of homelessness were shared at the luncheon took the stage to put a face to these tales of hardship.  Rhonda was one such person.  After Rhonda’s partner died she fell into a depression and was eventually hospitalized.  She lost her career, became homeless, and was brutally attacked while living on the streets.  Mary’s Place has been an accepting community and has helped her to begin rebuilding her life.

    Last year, Mary’s Place served 129 women per day, an increase of 53% over 2010.  A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the progress towards the Council’s objective that no family be unsheltered by the end of 2012.  Despite the good work being done by programs like Mary’s Place, I anticipate we’ll learn later this summer when the Human Service Department reports back to the Council on the impact of the additional funds Council allocated in the 2012 budget, that there’s still a lot to do.  To that end, I’ll be hosting a Guaranteeing Every Family Shelter Summit in July that focuses on further steps needed to assure that no families are sleeping on the streets in Seattle in 2013.  If you want to learn more about it, contact Lisa in my office at lisa.herbold@seattle.gov.

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