On December 8, 2008, eight mats were placed on the floor of a church. That winter night, The Sophia Way
opened its doors
for the first time to women who had no home, no friends or family to lean on, and certainly no safe, warm place to rest and eat. What they found at The Sophia Way was a community. Our staff and volunteers welcomed them, served them a hot meal, gave them blankets to keep warm and a place to sleep, and bus tickets for the morning. Most significantly, the women were offered a pathway to housing with guidance from our case managers and rental assistance for what was then a reasonable rental market.
Ten years later, the eight mats have increased to 50 at our Emergency Shelter; we have 21 beds at Sophia’s Place, our night program shelter; and laundry, showers, computers, and supportive services at our Day Center. And in an exciting update, we will be breaking ground in spring 2019 to build the first
Eastside 24/7/365 emergency shelter
for women and families with children.
During these ten years, we have had the
honor of serving
over 4,000 women and receiving almost 11,000 meals provided by our caring community of dedicated meal donors. Our compassionate volunteers have logged in over 75,000 hours of service. And our community of partners, funders, organizations, and individuals have provided critical dollars and in-kind donations. We are filled with gratitude for all the support given.
A 10-year anniversary is traditionally celebrated with a gift of tin or aluminum to symbolize durability and flexibility. Like these metals, The Sophia Way has had to be sturdy and adaptable to not only sustain but also grow and strategically build our capacity to meet the increasing number of women experiencing homelessness in a competitive and expensive rental market. While our mission remains steadfast, the pathway to housing is now much longer and steeper, with more obstacles along the way.
Increasingly, more of the women we serve are chronically homeless with addiction disorders and severe mental illness. It is a more fragile population and the longer they are homeless, the greater the challenges in getting them to recovery and stability.
The dire situation has challenged us to pivot and recalibrate our services to address the needs of this distressed population. Our understanding and knowledge over the last decade have made us hardy and adaptable. It has enabled us to
adopt the Housing First philosophy
, take calculated risks to improve our fundraising, and more importantly, advocate our elected officials to increase funding for basic life-saving services, and a humane approach in siting shelters.
We look forward to the next ten years of strengthening our commitment, and our partnership with you and our community, as we continue to adapt and improve our services to meet the ever-changing needs and complexities of women experiencing homelessness.