Day center on S. Broadway gives women solace while homeless
EVERETT — Two volunteer-staffed groups are reaching out, hand in hand, with some much-needed services for homeless individuals in Snohomish County.
Esther’s Place is a drop-in center that offers a safe space and two hot meals on weekdays to homeless women and children.
Now located in a freshly-painted house on south Broadway in Everett, Esther’s Place moved in early August to its new site at 3705 Broadway, a house near the Starbucks and across from the Shell gas station. Its previous location was a church basement on Rockefeller Avenue.
Why the move?
“The women needed showers and a sense of home,” said Judy Hoff, the founder of Esther’s Place.
Now they have both.
Flowers nestled in beauty bark adorn the front of the updated house. Curtains and homey decorations perk up the inside. Upstairs, a newly-renovated arts and crafts room invites moms and children to relax and tap into their creativity in a light, airy environment.
“We have an art therapist who comes in,” says Hoff. “The ‘whole person’ is our goal. They (homeless women and children) get their minds off their troubles” with art, she said.
Esther’s Place also helps women connect with the programs, resources, and support they need to direct them toward recovery and self-sufficiency.
One woman who got help is Sandra Stringham of Everett, who was once addicted to meth, pills and alcohol. She is now the manager at Esther’s Place.
“I was at the bottom of the bottom,” said Stringham, a mother of five who now beams with success and new purpose. “The ladies have seen me go from nothing to this,” she said, noting that while she once rode a bicycle to work,
someone recently gave her a car.
On a recent sunny September day, Esther’s Place was having its first “self-care day” since the move to Broadway. These periodic, special days are when women can get haircuts, foot and nail care, and other personal pampering.
In October, various self-help evening classes will begin on topics such as boundaries, domestic violence, stress management, grief/loss, and forgiveness.
“We’ll be adding and adding (classes) as we get people to teach,” said Hoff.
Currently, Esther’s Place serves about 20 women and children per day, Hoff said, but that number will increase when winter comes. Hoff said the group has 2,350 volunteers and contributors, and has served 60,400 meals and 9,640 clients over the years.
“I want people to know we’re here,” she said.
Esther’s Place is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 3705 Broadway.
MercyWatch, a group that offers “street medicine” to homeless people at sites throughout Snohomish County, made a stop at Esther’s Place on the recent self-care day.
Joyce Farrell, a retired nurse practitioner from Seattle, said she has been volunteering with MercyWatch for a year and a half. The group does minor wound care, blood pressure checks, diabetes tests, flu shots, Covid-19 vaccines, hepatitis shots, health education, and makes referrals to permanent facilities. They also refer for mental health care, Farrell said.
Farrell said MercyWatch has come to Esther’s Place almost every week this year. She was impressed with the new location.
“This is a wonderful building!” she exclaimed. “This is just a beautiful setting,” she said, noting the new provisions for children, such as high chairs, a toy area, and an arts/crafts room.
“It’s a miraculous change,” she said.
Sheila Murphy, an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), has been the MercyWatch vaccine manager since 2020 and is set to be its new medical director starting in November. Providing street medicine “instantly spoke to my heart,” Murphy said.
The MercyWatch team, which currently has about 30 active volunteers, goes to various locations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, she said. They hope to have a mobile medical van in use by October.
“We basically meet our shelter-less friends wherever they’re at,” Murphy said.
To learn more about Esther’s Place, email Judy Hoff at: firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer or make a donation, contact Sandra Stringham at: email@example.com.
To learn more about MercyWatch, go to www.mercywatch.org or call 425-359-1787.
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