Lighthouse Mission Ministries is strengthening outreach and community engagement projects in Bellingham in response to the growing needs of the homeless and local businesses.
According to Hans Erchinger-Davis, President and CEO, the Lighthouse Mission has been hiring staff to support these new developments, which aim to support the homeless and equip local businesses with de-escalation skills.
Erchinger-Davis said the organization has been hiring staff members to fortify the outreach team’s efforts to reach people in homeless encampments around Bellingham.
As COVID cases continue to decline, the Lighthouse Mission plans to restart Shower Connect, where homeless neighbors have access to hot showers, a toilet, and a sink. It also will revive the “Joyriders” electric scooter outreach program, which connects people on the street with coffee and resources and engages local businesses as well. Also in the works: more group volunteer opportunities and a chance for volunteers to accompany staff in outreach vans.
Erchinger-Davis said that the Lighthouse Mission’s Good Neighbor Project, which seeks to build a community-partnered response to homelessness, is going strong. This project includes daily street outreach and a dedicated litter patrol that has been keeping the area around Base Camp clean.
The Lighthouse Mission’s Downtown Bellingham Liaison, Evarosa Perry, conducts daily rounds with those on the streets. She connects the homeless with any help they might need – whether that looks like supplies, sheltering, or even assistance in finding family members.
“The other day, Evarosa helped a man search for his family members on LinkedIn,” Erchinger-Davis said. “When he heard back from his family, it was so exciting to see a rekindling of that relationship. Evarosa helped rebuild the support system for that man.”
Soon, Perry will launch trauma-informed de-escalation training for downtown business workers and owners, Erchinger-Davis said. There is also potential to expand the training to the rest of the community, he added.
“This de-escalation training will help business owners create an environment where people experiencing homelessness are treated with dignity, and customers also feel comfortable,” Erchinger-Davis said. “For example, if someone on the streets becomes escalated in a local coffee shop, we want to help equip staff to respond confidently and compassionately.”