The New Bethlehem Project beginnings started in 2014 at the Holy Family Parish (Kirkland) by a group of volunteers who wanted to address homelessness as an issue in their community.
The Holy Family Kirkland group, joined by representatives of St Louise Parish, created a mission statement framing the actions they believed needed to be addressed. They identified three (3) goals:
- Create a day center for families experiencing homelessness,
- Extend operation of the temporary Eastside Emergency Overnight Shelter and
- Build a permanent emergency facility
In the fall of 2015, Salt House, a Lutheran Congregation in Kirkland recognized the potential to convert the lower level of Salt House Church into a family day center. They joined the planning committee.
The Salt House congregation generously agreed to provide the facility rent-free. Catholic Community Services became the project’s fiscal agent.
By July 2016, approximately $475,000 of the $550,000 budget was contributed by generous individual community donors. And November 2016 marked the opening of the day center.
The New Bethlehem Project has a three-pronged approach to alleviating homelessness among families experiencing homelessness:
- Create a family day center. Opened in Fall of 2016 and can accomodate 50 people Sunday thru Thursday (2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) Staffed with professionals and trained volunteers. Services include afternoon snack, warm dinner, restrooms and showers, laundry facilities and access to computers and social services.
- Extend the operations of the emergency overnight shelters. As funds allows, New Bethlehem Project will contribute toward extending operations of the emergency overnight shelters on the eastside.
- Build a permanent shelter for families. This shelter will operate 24 hours a day year round.
The shelter will provide families with equal access to programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, political ideology, age, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of a physical, sensory, or medical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a disabled person. For New Bethlehem Project, “families” are defined as adults with children under 18 years of age.
For more information please visit the New Bethlehem Project’s webpage.
They also have a Facebook page to follow their successes or find out the many ways you can contribute and/or volunteer.