Homeless families can use what you don’t

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Winter is rolling in, with its dark nights and blasts of Arctic air. It’s the time of year when my worry increases for those on our streets with no warm home to welcome them.

This year, as I’ve done for over a decade, I’m focusing my personal efforts to give women and homeless families a little more comfort.  My heart wrenches when I see women who are struggling on their own, especially those with their children in tow.

Halloween is so much better with the twins in a stroller!

The City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) does everything it can with its reduced resources to supply homeless family services and to invest in community-based agencies.  There are more than 37 sites in the City of Seattle that coordinate their efforts to serve people who need support.

One such organization is Mary’s Place, on Bell Street in Belltown. Mary’s Place is a day shelter for homeless women and their children, a place to find warmth, meals, a telephone, medical care, a place to do laundry while they work to get into more stable housing situations.  

Mary’s Place does great work as a day shelter but to their deep dismay they cannot offer night shelter in their current configuration. 

 Last week I spoke with Marty Hartman, the Executive Director of Mary’s Place, who told me that her organization has seen a 186 percent increase in the number of families coming through their doors in 2011. In the last two weeks alone they’ve had 12 families with a total of 22 children looking for a safe place to stay warm and together.  In some cases, Mary’s Place could offer nothing but the encampment on East Marginal Way.

 Marty reminded me that homeless women with kids need the most basic things, like sweaters, socks, and strollers. 

A number of organizations in Seattle (see the links to their websites below) are dedicated to helping homeless women. They all rely on direct donations along with other sources of support and funding.

Allie Wolfe of Edmonds was glad to see her stroller go to a good use.

 Wish lists and needs for these organizations are long and getting longer. Blankets and winter coats are always in high demand this time of year, but you can go to any organization’s web site to see what they need most.  Your donations of new or gently used clothes, linens, towels are a boon to a woman who has little to nothing.

In addition to Mary’s Place, here are just a few other places I can recommend.  I will happily add others to the list if readers have recommendations:

Broadview Shelter

Jubilee Women’s Center

New Beginnings

Noel House

Solid Ground Family Shelter

If you have items you are no longer using, please know that others can.  Take your items directly to a shelter, or bring them to my office and I will make sure your items get delivered.

By the way, I did find a double stroller on Craigslist thanks to a generous young mom from Edmonds. Marty made sure it went to a family who could really use it.