In September 17, 2013, a Facebook conversation took place regarding a homeless woman who had been staying outside in the area around Good Cheer Food Bank. She was a friend of us all, and we had a growing concern regarding lifestyle choices she was making. As a result of this conversation, several folks joined in who were concerned about the growing number of homeless persons here on South Whidbey, including Good Cheer volunteers, Kathy McCabe, Good Cheer Director, JoAnne Pelant, island County Homeless Coordinator, Charlene Ray, Director of Mental Health services for the county, Corrine Bailey and Sydney Hoffman, dedicated Good Cheer volunteers and Judy Thorslund, Good Cheer volunteer. We held our first meeting with these persons in September, one week after the initial conversation on fb took place. We met twice more and agreed to host the counties annual Point in Time count on January 23rd 2014. Our Coalition came together at this meeting during a round table discussion regarding homelessness here, and the SWHC has been meeting monthly ever since.
We have formed a non-profit, established a Warming Center through an alliance with the Langley Methodist Church, and have purchased the House of Hope in Langley to open this spring as a short term house of hospitality. Our gratitude is great for all of the interested persons who have come forward and poured their hearts and minds into this work. We are a community where people look at us a say “See how they Love One Another!”
During the first month of meeting together with the women from the county, our homeless friend, who started all this, went into their housing program, and entered into a chemical dependency treatment program and drug court. She is clean and sober today, housed and giving back to her community as a volunteer.