People are experiencing homelessness in every zip code in King County, including the Eastside. During this year’s One Night Count, at least 245 individuals were found to be unsheltered in the Bellevue-Redmond area alone – and this does not include the hundreds living in shelters, transitional housing, and on the edge of homelessness.
The new Bel-Red Family Resource Center is a faith-based response to this crisis and is a beautiful example of the great things that can happen when churches heed the call to live out their faith and serve their neighbors and the wider community.
By Dawn Stenberg, Church Engagement Partnership Specialist at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission
Last year, Redmond city officials approached Evangelical Chinese Church (ECC) to ask if they would be willing to engage the issue of homelessness by opening up their building for use as a shelter. ECC then began to ask themselves what more they could do to help their homeless neighbors. They started exploring partnerships with area congregations and non-profit agencies to better understand the issue and how they could get involved.
ECC partnered with Creekside Covenant Church, Westminster Chapel, and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission to explore how they could serve families experiencing homelessness. They’ve been working together for nearly two years on opening the “BelRed Family Resource Center” or BRFRC and are ready to do a “soft launch” opening for the BRFRC. Operations for a day center will begin in a facility owned by Creekside Covenant. The long term hope is to operate a 24-hour shelter for single moms at a large house ECC owns on the property adjacent to Creekside Covenant Church.
In preparation to open this day center for single moms, the congregations involved have taken part in several training opportunities. Working in partnership with Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, they hosted a Poverty Simulation Workshop at ECC. More than 80 people attended up on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and we even had to turn some people away as the workshop reached capacity. Other trainings offered were a Trauma Informed Care and Boundaries training at ECC that had about 180 in attendance. Additionally, Westminster Chapel recently hosted a “Homelessness 101” workshop where people came and learned about the facts and myths about homelessness, and participated in an interactive training.
The congregations are very committed to serving families experiencing homelessness. We hope to open the BRFRC at the end of May and have started recruiting volunteers from the congregations and the community. For more information, and to see how you can get involved you can visit www.ugm.org/BelRed.