Being homeless can be grueling. Imagine trying to get a good night’s sleep in a night shelter with as many as twenty-five strangers sleeping somewhere between a few feet to a few inches away from you. You have to worry about the safety of your personal belongings, as well as prepared to be woken up throughout the night with the noises of others. “You can’t let your guard down to really sleep deeply because you have everything you own with you,” said Mary, one of our clients. “Even though it might not be worth much, when it’s everything you have, it’s important. So you keep it close and try to keep an eye open when you try to sleep.”
Part of Elizabeth Gregory Home’s mission is to provide a welcoming and respectful refuge for homeless women, which is why EGH launched a sleeping program in September. By offering a safe, quiet place for women to rest during the day, they are better equipped physically and emotionally to tackle tasks that will help them move towards getting housed and accessing a source of income. For now, EGH is the only drop-in Day Center in the Seattle area that allows women to rest during the day.
EGH is incredibly grateful for the use of the University Lutheran Church’s choir room during the hours our drop-in Day Center is open Monday through Friday. The space is quiet, serene and comfortably accommodates up to eight mats at a time.
Thanks to everyone who helped to make showers at the EGH Day Center a reality! The women we serve are happily showering to their hearts content.
Special thanks to Nalani Askov for creating this womderful showers video.
Fifteen years ago, the members of University Lutheran Church (ULC) decided to make some space available within its facility for a new mission. After a year-long process of inquiry and research within the congregation and in the community, a task force concluded that this space would best be used for homeless women.
A board was elected to pursue this vision, establish a separate 501(c)3 organization, raise funds for the new organization, and determine when and how to commence operation. Over the course of the next 4 years, the groundwork was laid and funds were raised to open a transitional home for Elizabeth Gregory Home (EGH). A year later (2007), a day center was opened. In 2009, EGH approached the brink of closure due to the lack of funds. However, with some desperate measures by the Board and some extra gifts from the members of ULC, EGH survived this crisis, and has grown into the viable and important organization that it is today.
I have been privileged to be a significant part of this journey, both as the pastor of ULC and as a board member of EGH for the past 15 years. Although having been credited with being the “founder” of EGH, this fabulous organization would not have happened had it not been for the vision and support of the members of ULC and of the broader community, as well as the staff and board members throughout the years. Back then, everyone knew that homelessness was on the rise and that women needed their own place to find refuge apart from the men who tended to prey on them. The path that was chosen to meet this need was pretty obvious. All that it took was the desire, the will, some tenacity, and the finances to put the vision into action. The current stability of EGH is a credit to all who have been a part of this endeavor.
As I leave the board of EGH and depart from ULC, I will cherish all of you who have been on the front lines of making Elizabeth Gregory Home what it is today, as well as all of you who have ensured the viability and sustainability of EGH with your gifts, time, and prayers. Most importantly, I will hold in my memory all of the women who have entered the doors of EGH and found a place to call “home,” whether for a moment, a week, a month, or a year. To leave this place knowing that the women of EGH will continue to have this home as their refuge is a dream come true and a source of hope for all of the women who are yet to pass through the doors of EGH.
GiveBig Extended Through Wednesday May 4.
Due to system-wide technical difficulties, the Seattle Foundation has extended the deadline for giving to Midnight, Wednesday, May 4.
Elizabeth Gregory Home is participating in The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig Campaign on Tuesday, May 3rd from 12:01AM till 11:59PM! Your gift will directly support Elizabeth Gregory Home’s ability to meet essential needs of homeless and at-risk women. With the recent completion of our Moe-Lobeda Wellness Center that includes the addition of showers, Elizabeth Gregory Home’s Day Center is now truly a one-stop location for women to meet all critical needs.
All donations are “stretched” by the Seattle Foundation and GiveBig sponsors, increasing the size of your gift by their match.
How Can You Help?
- Go to GIVE Big for Elizabeth Gregory Home
- Follow the cues on the page to enter your donation amount, personal and credit card information.
- Please give as generously as you are able.
Thank You for Your Support!
The EGH Annual Beatles-Sing-A-Long was held on January 23rd. More than 200 people sang and danced the night away!
Thanks to the hard work of our beloved Plasticine Porters and numerous volunteers, more than $3,400 was raised to help homeless women through Elizabeth Gregory Home’s programs and services.
Sometimes somebody does something to renew your faith in human nature… and it really feels good.
Fran Erhardt, a longtime RHA member, called the office to ask who she could talk to about making a donation. She had just read the article in last month’s UPDATE about RHA raising funds for the “Showers” capital campaign for the Elizabeth Gregory Home homeless women’s shelter in the University District.
“I didn’t have to think about it very long. This is just something I need to be a part of.
It’s the right thing for RHA, and me, to do.” Fran donated $2,000. One member—ten percent of our $20,000 goal. And we have 5,200 members….
The first thing I did was call and thank her. Then I asked if she would share a bit about herself with other members. She agreed. While RHA members are a diverse bunch we have a lot in common: drive, the ability to shoulder risk, faith that our hard work will eventually pay off, rental housing horror stories, smarts, frugality, but also—because of what we do—an understanding of people…compassion. So here’s a story about one RHA member—Fran Erhardt—who has all those things.
“Actually,” she told me, “I had a connection with the Elizabeth Gregory Home (EGH) a few years ago. I happened to own and manage a small building near the EGH day center (where the showers are going). A number of years ago EGH leased a floor in my building as a residence for women they are working to help at the day center. Everything went well. We never had a problem.”
Had she ever felt uncomfortable around women from the shelter. “Uncomfortable? No. Some of the women probably made bad choices, probably all of them had a lot of bad luck. But I always thought, well, if a few things in my life had worked out differently I might be here too.”
Fran’s parents emigrated from Holland after the war. She grew up on a dairy farm near LaConnor with six brothers and sisters, attended Seattle Pacific University in the early eighties and majored in accounting. “I got interested in real estate when I took a real estate financial analysis class. Our professor made us find buildings for sale, contact the broker, do a rent study, analyze the numbers, learn about notes and contracts and all sorts of things. He was great.”
How did she get from there to owning a boarding house? “Well, my husband (now deceased) and I had a couple of rental houses in Edmonds. Then we heard about a small apartment building in the University District so we sold the houses and bought the building. I was working as an accountant for a construction contractor then and noticed that the owners of the company kept buying apartment buildings. So I asked a lot of questions and got a lot of help from them. This was the nineties and opportunities to acquire buildings in the U-District kept showing up. We managed everything ourselves. That’s how you figure out the market you in what it takes to make things work.”
I asked if her first-hand experience with EGH had anything to do with why she made her donation to the ‘showers’ project.
“Yes. There are two reasons. First, EGH helps a lot of women for not much money. They get the women counseling and connected with social services, jobs, other people who can help. And they do that with so little money. I used to be a CPA. They give a great return on investment. Dollar for dollar, they’re just really efficient at helping women get started again.”
And your other reason? “Being a landlord isn’t easy, but if you stick it out and the rental market eventually rewards you—and it has been rewarding, especially lately—I feel I have a responsibility to those who haven’t been as lucky as I’ve been. I have a responsibility.”
“And I lied. I have a third reason. I’m selfish. It makes me feel good.”
Thank you, Fran Erhardt, for helping RHA move closer to our $20,000 goal for the Elizabeth Gregory Home ‘Showers’ campaign.
In 2014, in-kind donations from our community supporters totaled $241,278!
Items donated included food, clothing, bus tickets, Ziploc bags, laundry detergent—the list goes on from there. We couldn’t meet the essential needs of each woman we serve without this support, and on behalf of all at EGH, we thank you!
Although there are many to thank, here are a few highlights… Read More
A team comprised of UW nursing and computer science students volunteered at EGH on the MLK Day of Caring on January 17. EGH received a $250 grant from United Way to purchase supplies for the deep clean/carpet shampooing the team provided to the EGH Day Center. Thank you for brightening the Center and the lives of homeless women!
The 35th annual One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place on Friday, January 23, 2015. At least 3,772 men, women, and children were without shelter during the three hour street count. This is a 21% increase over last year. Hundreds of volunteers joined in the effort to count the men, women and children who were homeless and sleeping outdoors without shelter between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. They counted people trying to survive in cars and tents, riding buses, or curled up under bridges or in doorways.
According to a recent study released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, only New York City and Los Angeles had more homeless people than Seattle. Among participating cities, based on 2013 data, Seattle had the:
- 3rd most homeless people (9,106)
- 6th most homeless people in families (3,120)
- 7th largest number (5,986) of homeless individuals
- 7th largest number (533) of unaccompanied, homeless children and youth
- 9th largest number (682) of homeless veterans