Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland, Washington, recently marked a significant milestone as they celebrated over a decade of their Safe Parking Program. The program began in July 2011 and has been a beacon of hope in the area, offering a secure place for individuals living in their vehicles while providing vital support services.
The church’s involvement in various shelter programs over the years culminated in the establishment of the Safe Parking Program, which has since become a model due to its success and longevity. The program hosted a special event at the church on Sat., August 26, to celebrate a decade of building community.
Pastor Meredith Dodd started the celebration with a warm welcome before introducing a touching memorial slideshow honoring program volunteers, advocates, and participants who had passed. Karina O’Malley, the program coordinator, provided a comprehensive program history. She expressed heartfelt gratitude to those who played pivotal roles, with Kelly Mutch and Jennifer Hover assisting her in sharing their stories. O’Malley was surprised during the program as she was also thanked for her significant contributions.
A heartwarming moment came from former program guest Leonor Guillen, who shared her profound gratitude for the program’s positive impact on her life. Throughout the event, it was noted that current and former guests often blessed the program, bring their lives and talents to the community as they trusted the church to provide safety.
The event concluded with a meal after a closing blessing from Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth. The bishop has been emphasizing the importance of ministries like the Safe Parking Program as examples of ‘Ministry that Matters.’ United Methodists across the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church have been encouraged to engage in work to address community
The Lake Washington UMC’s Safe Parking Program has not only provided shelter and support but also inspired other communities to take similar compassionate action. With access to affordable housing a growing challenge, programs like the one at Lake Washington offer hope and a place to recover and transition back toward a more secure housing situation.