Snoqualmie Valley Shelter Services held a heartfelt fundraising event on Sept. 15 as they celebrated nearly a decade of serving the community — and looked to raise $135,000 to support an ever-increasing need.
The Reclaiming Stability Benefit Luncheon, held at Meadowbrook Farms, recognized the achievements of the shelter over the last decade and the services it provides the community.
Since 2017, when the shelter became an independent nonprofit and adopted the name Snoqualmie Valley Shelter Services, it has served 716 residents. That includes 132 clients who have transitioned into permanent housing.
Two of those clients spoke before the crowd at Meadowbrook.
“How fortunate was it for me that it was this Valley I ended up homeless in,” one former shelter resident said. “I may have fallen off the face of the Earth and never been heard from again. That could have easily happened, easily, but because of that shelter, that didn’t have to happen.”
Shelter executive director and founding member Jennifer Kirk also announced for the first time that the shelter will be going by a new name, Reclaim, alongside a new tagline — “Stability, opportunity, connection” — to better describe the services they provide.
Kirk and a group of concerned community members, led by then-North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner, founded the shelter back in November 2012 as a winter-only overnight shelter. It came as many were noticing a concerning trend of more visible homelessness in the Valley.
“As we stand here today, it’s kind of mind-blowing to realize it’s been nearly 10 years since our initial shelter opened,” Kirk said in a speech at the benefit. “We really had no idea how to open the shelter, but we all knew we needed to.”
On that opening night, the shelter served just nine families.
Today, as the pandemic and rising housing costs have led to record numbers of residents experiencing homelessness, the shelter is serving upwards of 60 people a night.
In response to that demand and the pandemic, the shelter transitioned to a 24/7 year-round overnight model in November 2020, and established a semi-permanent home at the American Post Legion building in downtown Snoqualmie.
Still, Kirk said, their 15-person staff is often turning people away due to funding and staffing constraints.
“This is our baby and we’ve given our heart and soul to this agency, and the people we serve, we love them so deeply,” Kirk said. “We have built this agency together and we continue to serve people together.”