Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center Relocates to Bellingham High School
Lighthouse Mission Ministries, working with Whatcom Unified Command and Bellingham School District, is temporarily moving its Drop-In Center for people in homelessness to Bellingham High School in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to much effort from the City of Bellingham, Bellingham School District, Whatcom County Health Department, and Lighthouse Mission Ministries, the Drop-In Center will be temporarily relocating today to Bellingham High School. The extra space at Bellingham High School will accommodate up to 200 people, support the six-foot distancing mandate, offer showers, and provide separate quarantine space if and when that becomes needed.
Hans Erchinger-Davis, Executive Director of Lighthouse Mission Ministries, says, “Our community came together to figure out a solution so the Drop-In Center will safely serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Many hands were involved and I’m incredibly grateful for those partnerships.”
All public and private schools in Washington state are closed until April 24. The only access for Drop-In Center guests will be through Bellingham High School’s Ohio Street entrance, which is away from residential areas. There are no registered sex offenders currently staying at the Drop-In Center, and there won’t be any at the high school, according to Lighthouse Mission Ministries.
Prayer and bible studies will be offered at the temporary Drop-In Center, but the activities are voluntary, Erchinger-Davis said. There is no religious participation requirement to receive services provided at the Drop-In Center, he added.
A privately funded and operated Bellingham nonprofit organization, Lighthouse Mission Ministries is asking the public to donate financially to support the increased costs due to COVID-19 responses and the food, shelter, and care that are being provided for daily at its facilities.
Demands on LMM funds will increase because of the relocation, Erchinger-Davis said. There is an increased demand for workers due to the move, as more supervision is needed to serve people well in the larger space at Bellingham High School, so supplemental contract staff are being hired for the 24/7 facility.
Donations may be made by calling (360) 671-1562 or visiting www.thelighthousemission.org.
“Support is especially needed during this time of uncertainty,” Erchinger-Davis said. “The best way the public can help right now is to donate financially to provide for the essential needs of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
In the wake of the winter shelters closing for the season, Lighthouse Mission has been left with a full house. On several occasions, people had to be turned away due to capacity constraints when cold weather hit and fewer services were available, such as the food bank and library being closed.
Even as schools, restaurants, and recreational facilities must close as a response to coronavirus, Lighthouse Mission will continue to be open and care for neighbors experiencing homelessness, Erchinger-Davis said. “The Lighthouse Mission is one of the emergency services that must continue to serve or matters will get much worse, because these neighbors have nowhere else to turn,” he said.
The Drop-In Center facility at 1013 W Holly opened 24/7 in the fall of 2016 as a temporary solution to the growing homeless population. But it is not possible to carry out the recommendations of the CDC, the Whatcom County Health Department, and the State of Washington in response to COVID-19 (social distancing, less than 50 people in a space, and quarantine capabilities) at this location, Erchinger-Davis said.
If you have questions or concerns about the shelter relocation, contact Jessica Hess at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-733-5120, ext. 103.
Lighthouse Mission Ministries is a Bellingham nonprofit that has been healing homelessness with Christ’s power and love since 1923. This privately funded and operated, Jesus-centered organization reaches out to people experiencing homelessness and offers helpful items, friendship, recovery programs, and a safe, supportive environment for people to get their lives back. On an average night, 210 adults and children call Lighthouse Mission home. Find out more and see how you can help! www.thelighthousemission.org, PO Box 548 Bellingham, WA 98227, or call (360) 733-5120.