Elected officials, local dignitaries and community leaders attended the Nov. 17 groundbreaking ceremony for one of Bellingham’s most important projects: The rebuild of the Lighthouse Mission Ministries facility at 910 W. Holly St. in Bellingham’s Old Town.
The ceremony took place at 910 W. Holly St. at noon. Guy Occhiogrosso, President/CEO of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, was the emcee. Speakers, including Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, addressed the importance of this project in serving the homeless in Whatcom County.
“As we prepare to undertake the largest project in Lighthouse Mission history, we are grateful for all who support us,” said Hans Erchinger-Davis, president and CEO of Lighthouse Mission Ministries. “We know that together, we can rise to the occasion, and be there during people’s darkest moments. Together we can fight for them, so they can have a flourishing life.”
Lighthouse Mission’s planned new facility, which will be on Lighthouse Mission-owned property on 910 W. Holly St., will replace the 24-hour Base Camp homeless service center on 1530 Cornwall Ave. It will include micro-shelters for families, working guests, elderly and medically fragile guests, and guests requiring mental health care.
These micro-shelters will increase the Lighthouse Mission’s total overnight shelter capacity by 100 people. The number of total beds available overnight will go from 200 beds to 300 beds, with additional overflow capacity of 100 during severe weather.
Demolition of the existing building is slated to begin in January or February 2023, followed by construction starting in March or April. Completion of its construction is projected for early 2024, with a June move-in.
“The facility will offer shelter and vital services to people experiencing homelessness,” Erchinger-Davis said. “A medical clinic in the new facility will include three exam rooms to provide better care for the health of our guests. Our temporary Base Camp facility has just one exam room due to limited space.”
Erchinger-Davis added that the new building will be five stories tall with 15,000 square feet per floor. It will be the community hub for homeless services including meeting rooms for community agencies to meet with guests and connect them to the services they need.
Other improvements include increased laundry capacity, an expanded kitchen, entrepreneurial suites and both daytime and nighttime spaces for guests.
“Expanding our kitchen and adding micro-shelters will allow us to continue providing meals for our most
vulnerable friends and neighbors,” Erchinger-Davis said. “All of these improvements will aid in the care
and recovery of our guests.”
At the temporary Base Camp homeless service center on Cornwall Avenue, families have been staying in “flex dorms” that provide a quieter place for families to stay. However, Erchinger-Davis said these flex dorms were not specifically designed for families and the Lighthouse Mission would like to make the environment even more functional and welcoming.
For this reason, the new facility will include a family micro-shelter that is specifically designed to offer short-term care for men and/or women with children. This space will include a deck, a community kitchenette, and a play area for children. These new family dorms will help create a safe and peaceful environment in which families can get back on their feet.
Three entrepreneurial suites located on the first floor will host three small businesses. The businesses will be open to the public and will create employment opportunities for graduates from Lighthouse Mission’s recovery programs.
The new facility will also include a chapel in order to continue to provide pastoral counseling, Bible studies, and worship services for guests who would like to participate. People of all backgrounds and beliefs are welcome to receive services at Base Camp.
The Lighthouse Mission is the only overnight, low-barrier homeless service center north of Everett. Lighthouse Mission Ministries maintains its identity as a Christian organization with its mission of healing homelessness with Christ’s power and love.
Lighthouse Mission Ministries has been helping people who are homeless since 1923. It cares for up to 310 people each day and provides a continuum of services aimed at ending homelessness through street outreach, enhanced shelters, addiction recovery, spiritual support, and aftercare. To make a donation to the new building project, call (360) 671-1562, or visit lighthousebuilds.org.