Safe Parking is a program for women and families living in their cars. We recognize that people who are homeless and have a vehicle face challenges in where to park their car without fear of tickets or harassment. We also recognize that homelessness can be isolating and the benefits of community and relationships can be life-transforming. We at Lake Washington United Methodist Church offer our parking lot to guests as a safe place to park, sleep in their cars, and become part of our church community. After a short intake process and background check, guests are invited to stay in the parking lot. Volunteer hosts come every school day morning to unlock the church for children going to school, and volunteer hosts are here most evenings so guests have access to the indoor bathrooms (there is a portable toilet in the parking lot), kitchen and phone. Through a grant, we provide free wifi access. There is a refrigerator set aside for our guests. We have information on community resources available in the office, including where to shower and do laundry. Guests are welcome to join church activities, but are under no obligation to do so. Many guests have participated in small groups, gone on retreats, and volunteered their services to the church in a variety of ways. Through our Wednesday night Community Dinner and our volunteer hosts, many wonderful relationships have been formed between housed and homeless members of our church community.
We are also lucky enough to work with Connections Counseling, which is a network of pastorally-trained counselors and therapists integrating spirituality and mental health and providing resources for faith communities. This valuable service is spiritually-based, person-centered and recognizes the sacred worth of the one seeking counsel. To see their 2017 Annual Report, click here.
If you would like to be a guest of our Safe Parking program or a volunteer host, or just want more information, please email Karina O’Malley, or call her at 425.739.7332.