Every great mission starts with a great story
Open House Ministries is a family shelter. In 1985, a small group of individuals met for Bible study at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, Washington. During those meetings, the group became increasingly aware of the homeless population and was especially touched by the number of mothers they met who slept in cars with their children. They soon began providing food and clothing to those they met and set out to explore the deeper needs of the homeless population.
The most frequent requests the group received was for diapers and food for the children. According to Joanne Kendall, one of Open House Ministries’ founders, many of the people they spoke to said if they could just settle down long enough warm, fed and clothed, they could get their thoughts together work on a plan to solve their homelessness.
Open House Ministries was incorporated in 1986. The original shelter building opened its doors in a large leased boarding house that stood on what is now our parking lot. The boarding house provided 10 rooms for up to 25 people.
During the first few years, much was learned about the complex needs of people in homeless situations. Eventually, the shelter evolved to include case management of residents, professional counseling, a day care, work development, transitional support and a large array of community networks geared toward meeting needs common among homeless populations.
In 1996, construction was completed on a new 28,000-square-foot building to serve as a shelter and house more people in need, thanks to the generous monetary, material and labor contributions of our community. It took over two years to build the new shelter, but when the doors opened, the building was and remains mortgage free. Today, 30 studio apartments with full bathrooms and a kitchenette house homeless families at Open House Ministries. Because of the generosity in our community, Open House Ministries provides services in addition to shelter for more than 100 individuals every night. OVER HALF OF OUR RESIDENTS ARE CHILDREN!
The national average cost for operating a family shelter far exceeds what Open House is able to do with the help of many faithful volunteers and the requirement that residents be involved in shelter maintenance through our Giving Back program.
Contact us for further information about our program. Individual or group tours are also available. We invite you to take a first-hand look at the work we do and the difference we make. If interested, please contact Leslie Cook, our development coordinator, at 360-737-0300 or email her at Leslie.Cook@sheltered.org.
Thank you for your interest in caring for or raising awareness about homelessness!