Local Non-Profit Helping Seattle's Homeless, One Life At A Time
As homelessness grows with tough economic times, a local non-profit organization, Light Under The Bridge Homeless Ministry, is successfully affecting homelessness one person at a time.
Light Under The Bridge began last October by husband and wife founders, Kevin and Hope Kerkof.
â€œIt began with us just making 6 sack lunches and going to Occidental Park on a Saturday morning. We just wanted to remind the homeless they are not forgotten. To look them in the eye and treat them with respect as human beings,â€ Kevin explained. â€œWe had no idea what a mission this would become.â€
What began as 6 lunches, has now become a team of volunteers and about 40 lunches every Saturday. â€œThe need is overwhelming,â€ Hope explained, â€œWith approximately 1,900 unsheltered people in Seattle, its easy to get discouraged and think what difference can one person make? However, our strategy is to affect the lives of the homeless by establishing relationships built on trust and respect, one person at a time. We bring them food, clothing, supplies…and as we build relationships with them, we continue to visit them when they are sick or injured in the hospital, and visit them in jail. And through our networking with other ministries, we are able to help get the homeless off the streets and the help they need when theyâ€™re ready.â€
Light Under The Bridge goes where most charities will not go â€“ under the freeways, bridges, and into the woods looking for the homeless that are not involved with the missions, shelters, and soup kitchens. These are the homeless that indeed feel forgotten, that is until they meet the volunteers from Light Under The Bridge.
Light Under The Bridge goes out every Saturday morning, on the same route-thereby visiting the same people, at the same time. The homeless look forward to their visits as one homeless man, William Johnson tells, â€œIâ€™ve lived in 49 states, and in all those states, meeting Hope & Kevin is the first time Iâ€™ve ever been shown real love. Everyone out here on the streets is always asking me when the Christians are coming back out.â€
As a result of Light Under The Bridge and their volunteers building relationships with the homeless, some have left the streets and are getting the help they need. Part of Light Under The Bridgeâ€™s mission has been to establish networking relationships with other faith based programs that offer rehab, housing, food, clothing, job skills, and eventually integrates them back into society. One such program that Light Under The Bridge has partnered with is The Freedom House.
The Freedom House is located in Des Moines and is a year long faith-based program that provides a discipleship program for men and women suffering from addictions. There are three phases of discipleship. During Phase I Temporary housing is provided which occurs in the first 30 days. During this time men and women are able to stay in a drug and alcohol free facility. Those that are committed to change continue into phases two and three and provided permanent housing. The program is an inclusive program, providing lodging, food, clothing, biblical teaching, life skills and an alternative life to drugs and alcohol abuse. At the end of the year, these men and women will have established a job, been taught how to budget and have savings, and will have a place to rent. Several of Light Under The Bridgeâ€™s success stories have sought treatment and are now residing at The Freedom House.
Kevin & Hope Kerkof compare Light Under The Bridge to a search and rescue team, and The Freedom House as a hospital with long term care.
â€œItâ€™s a fantastic system which is affecting lives one person at a time.â€
Both ministries operate from donations. 100% of all donations received by Light Under The Bridge help the homeless.
“We are in great need of donations. Tangible items such as clothing or groceries can actually be left off at our church office at Shorewood Foursquare Church marked for Light Under The Bridge. We need socks, gloves, hats, and jackets are most in need, especially since the weather will begin to cool off very soon.
We get help and donations from The Freedom House in Des Moines, and Hope Fellowship Community Church in Burien which has a community outreach clothing closet every Sunday. Volunteers are always welcome. We ask them to give us a call first and to check out our website www.LightUnderTheBridge.com.”
You can also donate by sending checks to:
Light Under The Bridge
224 SW 153rd St #146
Burien, WA 98166
For further information, you can visit their website at www.LightUnderTheBridge.com.