Message from our Executive Director
Changing the Narrative on Homelessness
As we begin this pivotal election year, we must and can change the way we think about homelessness. Our beliefs about people experiencing homelessness are deeply embedded in our internal and cultural biases. One of the most harmful narratives I hear is the criticism of the women who are experiencing homelessness instead of the conditions causing homelessness itself. One also frequently hears the criticism that social services breed dependency or that some people “choose homelessness.” They misplace blame for the issue of homelessness onto the individual who is suffering rather than understanding the actual underlying causes of homelessness that are 100% preventable. When we recognize our own biases to homelessness we can begin to change the narrative.  This change will allow us to meaningfully address the crisis we are faced with today because homelessness has reached emergency levels throughout King County.
Causes of Homelessness
The United Nation defines poverty as: “ A denial of choices and opportunities; a violation of human dignity.” And this is what is happening in King County- a denial of choices and opportunities for a growing number of women, men and families. Homelessness is an affordable housing crisis. We are lagging in the creation of affordable and low-income housing and the annual rate of creating affordable units has been less in the last decade than in the 90’s yet the need is far greater today. Stagnant wages, rising rents and decreased funding for affordable housing exacerbate and contribute to the cause of homelessness. Historic and current discriminatory housing policies cause homelessness. Institutional racism, criminalization of substance use disorder, insufficient mental health services and basic healthcare also cause homelessness. 
What can you do?
We believe everyone should be given the opportunity to reach their full human potential. Having a stable place to live makes all the difference in improving physical, mental and emotional health--the keys to a well-lived and productive life.
  • Have these crucial conversations with your friends, neighbors and family.
  • Change the narrative.
  • Register to vote. Help get out the vote.
  • Run for office.

In your own community - Find out what your city’s Comprehensive Plan is for development and growth. Does it include an effective strategy to ensure affordable housing opportunities throughout your city at a range of affordability levels so your teachers can live in the same community they teach? Does it allow for attached and detached accessory dwelling units or mother-in-law apartments? Are they being creative, innovative and bold with providing more affordable housing options?

The solution: More affordable housing .  Encourage your city council to provide more incentives, and work in partnership with not for profit developers and agencies to build permanent low income housing. Find out if your city has protections against Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) in which landlords can refuse to rent to tenants based on the origin of their income such as Section 8 vouchers, Social Security Disability, or HEN-Housing and Essential Needs. HEN is a source of support that provides emergency rent and utility assistance for low-income adults who are unable to work due to physical or mental incapacity.  

Together, we can create a future that ensures the well-being of all people by making thoughtful decisions that will allow all our neighbors to have a safe and affordable place to call home. This is a choice that can only be made when we change the narrative and reject the myths that perpetuate our current reality. So help us by being an advocate in your own network of friends and family and encourage conversations about this profoundly serious challenge. This is the only way we will be successful in summoning the will and the resources necessary to reverse this human tragedy and reclaim the lost gifts of so many.

Angela Murray,
Executive Director

Welcome to our new staff

Linda Benson, Director of Community Development
Linda brings to The Sophia Way more than 30 years of leadership, management and fund development experience in the human services sector. Prior to joining us, she spent several years as a non-profit consultant and as co-founder of Nourishing Networks – an innovative engagement model that quickly activates diverse networks of people in finding and filling gaps of need at a local level. The creation of Nourishing Networks was one of the strategic initiatives that Linda led as a Vice President at Hopelink, the organization she was part of for 20 years. This role grew from her work as Development & Communications Director where she was charged with creating a name, an image and a robust fundraising and leadership base for Hopelink’s vital mission.
Linda’s passion for the infinite capacity of human potential and an unwavering belief that we have the ability to imagine and elicit a different kind of community is what grounds her work. The Sophia Way offers her an opportunity to move back to her roots and into what she calls “doing heart work for our sisters who have been left behind, but not forgotten.”
Alexis Harden, Director of Client Services and Shelter
'Thank you everyone for the warm welcome. I am excited to take on the position as the Director of Client Services and Shelter for The Sophia Way. To be a part of a shared mission and a vision that I am passionate about is both rewarding and fulfilling. With me, I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of Social Services providing case management and supervision.

What I am most proud of however, is the award I received from my niece (Kya) and my nephew (Prince) for being, “The Coolest Auntie EVER!”'

Alexis Harden

2017 Success
Thank you for helping us make 2017 our best year yet! Last year, we helped 125 total women get into permanent housing , a 400% increase from 2016.

This success is the direct result of our new  Housing First   approach to service in all of our programs. We are committed to not only serving more women and helping to meet their immediate needs, but helping each woman in all of our programs find a permanent, stable home, something we all need and deserve.

Here are some other highlights of our success last year:
  • 490 women served at our Day Center - a 67% increase from 2016!
  • 232 women served at our Emergency Winter Shelter - a 70% increase from 2016!
  • 77 women served in our Sophia's Place Shelter - a 22% increase from 2016!
  • 50+ women reached through our new Outreach Program, over half of which then came to receive services at one or more of our program sites.
  • 15 of our long-term housing clients moved on to permanent, independent housing with new Section 8 "Move-on" vouchers.
  • Over 23,000 meals provided by YOU!

Each of these numbers represents a life changed, and it's all possible thanks to your support.

We are looking forward to continued growth and success in 2018!

Thank you Lakeside Christian Church
'As we prepare for our one and only move this season, I must extend a huge thank you to Lakeside Christian Church. This congregation not only embraced the Women's Emergency Shelter for a second season, but they rearranged their church programming and hosted the shelter for an additional month. We are so grateful for this additional time as it prevented multiple moves during our shelter season which can be extremely upsetting for our clients. Despite a more vulnerable population in need, the Pastoral staff handled all facilities issues associated with having 30 additional bodies in their facility daily with nothing but compassion and grace.  The congregation consistently made us feel welcome with kind words and a steady stream of donated necessities. 

Thanks to you Lakeside Christian Church, we were able to provide a safe place to sleep for 124 different women in just 3 and a half months! Your kindness and hospitality has truly been a blessing.'

Cynthia Brown
Director of Emergency Services

2017 - Citizen of the year award
The Sophia Way was thrilled to be selected as co-recipients of the "Citizen of the Year" Award at the Annual Breakfast of Forum XXII  -- an alliance of experienced Realtors® -- who honor individuals and groups that have made outstanding contributions to our community. 

The mutual objective of all members of Forum XXII is to foster fair and friendly cooperation, exchange creative ideas, promote continuing education and focus on professionalism with an emphasis on ethics.

This recognition that we are honored to share with Congregations for the Homeless, acknowledges the record-breaking impact we have had in 2017 and over the last few years. This award belongs to those women and men who are fighting against all odds, experiencing difficult situations but handle it with such dignity and grace always supporting each other.

The work we are doing would not be possible without the community's generosity. Thanks to all for being our pillar!

Our rock-star volunteers
As we are kicking off our 10th anniversary year, we are reflecting back to Christmas Day just weeks after opening our first shelter in 2008, when each of the 8 women we served was given two movie tickets and a Safeway gift card to spend her holiday in a warm, safe place with a snack.

In 2017, our Day Center and shelters were open 21 hours out of the day, and thanks to your generosity, we collected tens of thousands of dollars worth of essential items, warm clothing and accessories, food, gift cards, and more that we distributed to over 100 women throughout our six programs.  Women like Sheila  were overwhelmed with gratitude at the quantity and  quality  of items they had to choose from. To everyone who donated towards our Holiday Initiative, THANK YOU!

As grateful as we are to our donors, we need to recognize that none of this would be at all possible without the incredible gift of time and dedication of our volunteers. We would like to thank our amazing partners, the Assistance League of the Eastside , for throwing their annual holiday party at our Holly House! We would like to thank Kalos Church for sending a large group of wonderful volunteers to clean and decorate Sophia's Place for the holidays! We would like to thank Jack and Sharon Roos, Karina O'Malley, Marlyn Thorpe, Janet Olin, Susan Fleetwood, JoAnne Way, and Sonya and Sidney Koptyev for helping to pick up and sort all of the several car-loads worth of gifts from the Microsoft Giving Tree! We would also like to thank Mike Glenn and his team of merry elves from St. Madeleine Sophia Church for delivering 40 gift bags to our housing clients all over King County, a task they've happily taken on for several years running now! We would like to thank Alison Dildine, Nadine Miyahara, Anne Lock, Warren and Karen James, Suvekshya Pudasaini, Krithika Dharmarajan, and Carla Mena, for helping to pack gift bags and distribute items at our Day Center.

Above all, we owe the success of the Holiday Initiative to the incomparable Pat Landy. Pat spent hours each week as far back as October coordinating with 50+ individuals and groups to make sure that each and every client of ours would have useful, beautiful, empowering holiday gifts to help them through their time of homelessness and show them that they are valued and loved by the community. She spent countless hours picking up donations, speaking to donor groups, logging, sorting, and counting items, and writing heartfelt thank you cards to each and every person who contributed, in addition to continuing her weekly volunteer shift as an office receptionist! We could never thank Pat enough!

Keep an eye on our newsletters and social media in the fall for ways to get involved in our 2018 Holiday Initiative!

Our Office
The Sophia Way
11061 NE 2nd Street, Suite 223
Bellevue, WA 98004
Ph: 425-463-6285
Fax: 425-455-8607
Our Shelter
Sophia’s Place
3032 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Ph: 425-896-7385
Bus Route: 249
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