“The Birkenfeld-Stella Maris House, a Women's Shelter in Bremerton, Washington, is governed by the charitable principles of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The Shelter offers housing, food, and a safe, supportive environment to women (and women with children) in our community whose lives have become compromised. Compassionate assistance is given at no cost and without discrimination.”
The SVDP Stella Maris House has its roots in the 80-year history of the Bremerton St. Vincent de Paul Conference which held its first meeting in 1937. As early as 1950, the Bremerton Conference supported an apartment to house the homeless. In 1992, SVDP purchased two small houses that were used to shelter single women. Understanding the positive impact a women’s shelter could have on the community, a feasibility study was conducted in 2007. It was determined that building a new facility would provide cost-effective and improved accommodations for homeless women and their children. With large grants from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, broad community support and much prayer, construction began on the Birkenfeld Stella Maris House.
The Birkenfeld Stella Maris House opened its doors in February 2010. The 4,400 square foot shelter houses up to seventeen women plus children in a dignified, welcoming setting. Formally homeless women now enjoyed a safe and supportive, yet temporary, home. It soon became clear that the Stella Maris residents needed more than shelter and food. Trauma associated with homelessness, addictions, mental illness, and abuse severely impacted their ability to become stable, self-sufficient members of the community. Skyrocketing housing costs prohibited women and their children from finding stable, safe housing. Due to a lack of staff, residents had to leave the shelter every weekday, regardless of weather, illness or the needs of babies and children. It was clear that more needed to be done to give the women a chance to succeed.
In 2016, the Friends of Stella Maris Guild was formed to determine the greatest needs of the women and to raise funds to meet those needs. With $280 seed money,the first STAR of HOPE Gala was held in December 2016 and raised $13,000. From those humble beginnings, The Friends of Stella Maris has continued to grow, holding a second Gala in 2017 netting $63,000. In 2018 the STAR of HOPE Gala netted an amazing $101,700; thanks to our generous Gala Sponsors and donors.
As a result of these fundraising efforts, the Bridge to Home program was introduced, providing direct funding for individual resident needs with a focus on rent deposits and other move-in costs. A full-time case manager and ancillary staff were hired which allow the women and their children to stay in the shelter during the day where they receive critical services that make a huge impact on their success. The Friends of Stella Maris Advisory Board and Guild continue to explore ways to increase and enhance support to the residents of Stella Maris House.
The Friends of Stella Maris are grateful for community members who have made these positive changes possible. With your support, we will continue to assist homeless women and children to achieve healthy, productive lives. Please consider a donation by clicking on the green DONATE button above. We also invite you to join us at the 2019 STAR of HOPE Gala on November 16 at the Kitsap Golf & Country Club.
Thank you for helping us help others.
We meet people experiencing homelessness at their personal points of need by providing food, shelter, clothing, and basic clinic services. With these immediate needs met, homeless people can begin to learn how they can change their lives building on a solid foundation of faith. Stella
Maris House has a capacity of 22. Single women with children can stay up to 90 day, unless they have made other arrangements.
Sometime financial support is crucial in helping our residents on their way to get back up on their feet. Financial support has been provided in the past for personal needs including car insurance, transportation, assessments and housing assistance.
Shelter Case Manager Assistance
More often than not, the fight against homelessness means supporting families and individuals who face multiple challenges. Increasingly, social service organizations and entities are recognizing the need for effective case management as a tool for providing the most effective and coordinated services.
Thanks to the support of our donors we are able to hire a full time Case Manager who provides shelter services and appropriate supportive housing for homeless individuals or families, develop programs and resources and formulate case plans that promote moving towards self-sufficiency.
Our Case Manager also ensures the safety of all residents by implementing, monitoring and enforcing the rules and regulations of communal living and overseeing the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.
Access to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs in the community
On-site group workshops via curriculum developed uniquely for BSM by Holly Ridge and Kitsap Strong which address trauma, coping and communication skills, and parenting skills.
The visits are a way for us to continue our care and concern by ensuring the woman has settled into her new home. We also determine if the woman and her children have essential household items. Items provided have included furniture (beds, tables, and chairs), baby items, gas cards, kitchen tools, etc
Cocoa and Conversation Meetings
Stella Maris House sponsors an evening once a month for women to get together in an informal setting and enjoy a treat, and talk about anything that's on their minds. Childcare is provided. Cocoa and Conversation is also used for special speakers to come and speak about topics such as financial management, local programs like YMCA, Goodwill as well as other topics that can potentially help women on a path to a successful independent life.