Every great mission starts with a great story!
Open House Ministries, is a family shelter. We began in 1985 with a small group of individuals who met for Bible studies at Esther Short Park here in Vancouver, WA. During 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. Soon, they began providing food and clothing to those they met, and set out to explore deeper needs of the homeless population.
The most frequent requests were 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 that if they could just settle down long enough to get their thoughts together and have warmth, food, and clothing, then they could 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 ten rooms for up to twenty-five people. During the first few years, much was learned about the complex needs of people in homeless situations. Eventually, the shelter program evolved to include case management, professional counseling, daycare, work development, transitional support, and a large array of community networks geared toward meeting needs common among homeless populations.
Construction was completed on the new 28,000 square foot shelter building November of 1996, from 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 there are 30 junior studio apartments with full bathrooms and a kitchenette, and because of the generosity of our community, Open House Ministries provides shelter and services for up to 107 individuals every night – OVER HALF OF WHICH ARE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 17!
The national cost average for operating a family shelter exceeds $60.00 per bed each night. With the help of our faithful volunteers and the requirement that residents be involved in shelter maintenance through our Giving Back program, Open House Ministries operated a well-maintained shelter at a cost of only $14.36 per bed per night last year! You are invited to contact us for further information about our program. Individual or group tours may be scheduled if you would like a first-hand look at the work we do and the difference we make! For a tour, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 360-737-0300, or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for caring!