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Mary’s Place: Empowering homeless women, children, and families to reclaim their lives by providing shelter, nourishment, resources, healing and hope in a safe community.

When I found out I’d be working with a homeless shelter for my summer in Seattle, I didn’t know what to expect. Even now after 4 weeks of volunteering, every day is still unpredictable. As a part of the shift support staff, my coworkers and I have to think on our feet to handle any situation that comes our way. Whether it be an urgent request by one of the guests, or a volunteer in need of some guidance, the staff will find a way to help.

The resourcefulness of the shelter staff isn’t confined to the Family Center I spend most of my time at; it’s one of the fundamental values of the non-profit. As homelessness grew (and continues to grow) in Seattle, it was important for Mary’s Place to do the same. There are 7 different Mary’s Place shelters in the Seattle area; most of these shelters are in donated, temporary locations, but the first permanent home for the non-profit is being added in the fall. Partnerships with Amazon and Starbucks, as well as many monetary and physical donations by the Seattle community offer Mary’s Place the opportunities it needs to expand. In turn, this directly empowers the many women and families to reach their goals through the many resources at hand. Besides providing shelter, nutritional and hygienic services to the guests, the non-profit offers housing advocates, employment specialists, and public and mental health volunteers to each and every person that may be of need. If a family is pregnant, the Baby’s Best Start program allows a mother to recover and the child to grow in a private, healthy setting. The Popsicle Place program gives families with critically ill children comfort and shelter while accessing the medical treatment needed.

Everything listed above barely scratches the surface of what resources Mary’s Place provides. Each day passes and with that there is new progress in providing more for those experiencing homelessness. Through the stressful circumstances of a typical day at the Family Center, there’s always a celebration of development in a family’s life. Seeing first-hand just how the efforts of a non-profit can affect the lives of those in need makes the unexpected nature of my work week incredibly worth it.