The Light House Mission was founded!
In 1925, a name change to Light House Rescue Mission was recorded. Later, in 1930, the name was changed again to Light House Rescue Mission and Seaman’s League.
The Bostons served until 1937, when they turned the work over to Rev. and Mrs. John Nilsen. The Nilsens operated the Mission until 1943. At that point, a decision was made to close the Mission and give the property back to the Bostons. However, the Bostons wanted it to remain a mission and gave it to the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle to operate. Later that year, the Mission was being run by Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
About 1946, Mr. Hans Askland, assisted by his wife Mabel, became the Superintendent, after serving at the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle. The Asklands served until 1948.
The Mission on E Street caught fire in November of this year. The building was condemned by the city and torn down.
In early 1954, the Board of Directors worked on establishing a new mission. Earlier in the year, the Board had voted to take option on property located in the 500 block of West Holly Street. The south half of Lot Two was sold to some of the board members and then deeded the property over to the Mission. Later on, Lot One was also purchased. The building, located on the corner of Lots One and Two, at 500 West Holly Street, was known as the Yale Apartments and had at one time been called the best hotel between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C.
In October, the board called Reverend Myron “Mike” Hilty to be Director of the new Mission.
An adjoining lot was purchased in 1955.
Then in 1963, two more lots on that block were purchased from Bellingham Sash and Door and the Mission expanded again.
It wasn’t long before the Light House Mission Thrift Store was open at 502 W Holly St. By 1972 the Light House Mission had acquired a building at 909 W Holly St, which the thrift store moved into. It operated at that address until October of 1983, when a fire destroyed the building. The Mission also acquired an empty lot at 910 W Holly St.
Al Archer began volunteering at the Mission in May of 1972. That September, his wife Ruth was hired to be Mike Hilty (the Director’s) secretary. When Myron “Mike” Hilty retired in early 1973, Al Archer replaced him as Director. Myron “Mike” Hilty served the needs of our community in many ways for over 50 years. And so the shelter at 500 W Holly St was also ready for retirement. Plans were drawn up for a new building that would be built with the help of the many long-time, generous supporters of the Mission.
Work began on a new Mission building at 910 W Holly St. The new mission building enclosed 15,000 square feet, and was designed to provide food, a safe place to sleep, and counseling to those in desperate human need.
In July of 1975, The Mission moved into the new building.
The women’s shelter moved to a rented house on N Garden St that was owned by the president of the Mission’s Board of Directors. This women’s shelter was first named Shalom House. It was later changed to Agape Christian Women’s and Children’s Home.
In 1993, a house on Yew Street Rd was acquired for the women’s shelter. The shelter was renamed Agape Home for Women & Children. It had 6 bedrooms and was able to shelter 16 women and children.
In 2004, Al Archer retired after 32 years of service. Al had overseen the construction of a new building and multiple major transitions. Al and Ruth were very appreciated for all they had done to advance the Mission!
The Board searched for a new Executive Director and decided to hire Ron Buchinski.
In this year, through the generosity of our community, the building at 923 W Holly St was dedicated. It’s now the New Life Center, containing transitional housing for men and administrative offices.
In 2005, the 10,000 square foot building at 1013 West Holly Street was purchased. The property would come to serve as the Drop-In Center. For many years, it was open weekday afternoons, served lunch and dinner, and was a safe space for those experiencing homelessness to spend time and connect with resources.
A new Agape Home was built thanks to the generosity of our community. With it, we’re better able to meet the needs of women and single moms and their kids, and have room for up to 60 people.
Ron Buchinski and his wife, Pat, served at the Mission until this year. Pat managed our Agape Home for many years and supported in numerous other roles. We’re thankful for their leadership and the ways they made the Mission better during their time here.
Hans Erchinger-Davis was hired on as Executive Director. He began working at the Mission in 2006, and most recently was the Associate Executive Director.
The Drop-In Center started operating 24/7 with room for up to 120 people to stay the night. The following year, the Mission dining room was renovated so it could be used to shelter 30 people at night, increasing the Drop-In Center’s total capacity to 150 people per night.
Lighthouse Mission’s Outreach Program begins!
Street Connect began in this year, reaching out to care for people who don’t have shelter. Teams of volunteers go out four evenings a week and to talk and pray with people, as well as hand out helpful items like sandwiches, water bottles, socks, and hygiene items.
Shower Connect also began providing free showers around Bellingham.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Drop-In Center was moved on an emergency basis to Bellingham High School, because the original building did not have enough room for people to social distance. After a few months, a new location was found at 1520 Cornwall Ave, where it will remain for the next 3-4 years. The program was renamed Base Camp and has space for up to 200 people to stay the night.
Today, the Mission is able to shelter and care for 250 people each night because of your generosity! Thank you for enabling us to be here for people who are hurting.