Reach out. Invite In.
Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM) has expanded its outreach to the Bellingham community’s homeless population by launching Street Connect, where volunteers go out in vans to meet basic needs, build relationships, and offer an invitation for shelter.
Teams of volunteers are visiting areas around the greater Bellingham area, according to Executive Director Hans Erchinger-Davis. Volunteers now go out five nights a week and talk with people who are homeless and learn what they need.
Vans are stocked with items such as socks, sandwiches, water bottles and hygiene kits, Erchinger-Davis said. Rides are offered to the LMM Drop-In Center, where services, support, shelter and three daily meals are available.
“Trust relationships are often necessary for someone experiencing chronic homelessness to become motivated to take next steps,” Erchinger-Davis said. “Feelings of shame and worthlessness can keep people isolated, taking weeks or years for someone to get out of ‘survival mode.’ It can also be intimidating to enter the Drop-In Center if you don’t know anyone there or what the culture is like.
“By connecting people with volunteers, staff and current residents at the street level, meeting their basic needs and offering a direct invitation from the Mission, we remove those barriers and increase the likelihood of them accepting our offer of care.”
Street Connect will add a two-stall shower trailer to the program in July, giving people who are homeless access to warm showers and sanitation. The trailer will include two separate units, each with a shower, toilet and sink.
“Access to warm showers and restrooms is essential to a person’s dignity,” Erchinger-Davis said.
This trailer will be taken out with one of the Street Connect vans. It will also be parked at the Mission’s Drop-In Center. Eventually the Mission hopes to partner with local churches, giving them the opportunity to host the trailer. A variety of hygiene items, feminine hygiene products, towels and clean clothing will be distributed as needed.
Street Connect will give community members (faith communities, civic groups, sports teams, universities, businesses, individuals, etc.) the opportunity to address homelessness by volunteering in exciting, safe, and meaningful ways, Erchinger-Davis said.
Learn more or volunteer with Street Connect