When you visit the Friendship House, you will notice a yellow house nearby. It is from this house; the Friendship House was born.
One day, the woman who lived in the yellow house found a man looking through her garbage. She phoned up her friends and told them about the startling discovery. They said they had similar things happen to them. Feeling like it was their responsibility to provide for these people in need, the friends got together and started the first version of the Friendship House. They provided the people who congregated in their neighborhood with a stable place to live and food to eat.
Friendship House officially opened its doors 29 years ago in 1986 after two years of planning from ten non-profits in Skagit Valley. They added temporary housing in the mid-90’s in addition to providing emergency shelter.
Some people in the community have expressed concern about the Friendship House’s location in Mount Vernon. We talked with Tina Tate, the executive director, to get her option on the matter.
“This location was chosen because this is where the people who are in need are. They will be here whether we are here or not. Without a place to sleep and easy availability of food, people who are hungry may resort to stealing or dumpster diving because they are desperate. By taking care of their needs, we are helping to make the community safer by helping the homeless to get back on their feet.”
The Friendship House currently has two houses; one for up to 24 women and children and the other for up to 24 men. One of their unique difference is that they are the only place in the county to have temporary housing single men.
They have computers, cribs, blankets and a clothing room with all of the clothing donations. It is not just for residents, anyone in need can come and take a few items twice a week. They also have three laundry rooms, one for each of the houses and one for bedding and towels. Most importantly, they have nice houses that lend to a sense of stability.
The Friendship House allows residents to stay for up to three months. The house manager will help new residents come up with a step-by-step action plan to help them accomplish everything they need to get out of the situation they are in for whatever reason. The Friendship House requires that all residents are kind to each other, stay sober, clean, and complete a daily chore to help with the maintenance of the homes and Café to stay in their temporary home.
The residents write a summary of what they have done during the week. If they are not working on their action plan, the house manager talks with them to find out if their plan needs to be modified. If the resident is not ready to be able to move out of their current situation, then the House manager will refer them to a different non-profit that can help them.
The Friendship House is not a homeless shelter in the usual sense; it is a safe place to start over with dignity and accountability. Please consider a monthly donation of $20 to this amazing non-profit. $20 is enough to house, feed and clothe one person for a day.