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Richmond Beach UCC hosts homeless encampment

Richmond Beach Congregational UCC in Shoreline began hosting a 90-day United We Stand encampment of 25 homeless people on March 21.

richmond beach UCC camp

Homeless set up tents for 90 days.      Photo courtesy of Marcia McLaughlin

The camp, which includes two children, can admit up to a maximum of 35 people who are seeking housing and jobs, said Marcia McLaughlin, commissioned spiritual director at Richmond Beach UCC.

“We’re working with Greater Seattle Cares to provide meals and other needed items, such as blankets, batteries and tents,” she said.

The camp has a microwave for cooking.  The church is providing one hot meal a week, and is inviting other churches, neighbors and other organizations to provide other hot meals.

“A few years ago, the Richmond Beach Congregational Church chose to make helping those who are homeless our top outreach goal,” Marcia said.

“Prior to hosting the encampment, our outreach has included providing transitional housing by working with Compass Housing Alliance to use the two houses that we own, providing meals and needed items to Mary’s Place and Elizabeth Gregory House, and making sandwiches for a day shelter operated by Compass Housing Alliance,” she said.

The church has voted that hospitality was a top priority within their neighborhood, the church and beyond.

“This opportunity to host a small encampment is a perfect blend of our goals of working with those who are homeless and hospitality,” Marcia said.

“Within less than a week of United We Stand moving onto church property, the church was working with the Richmond Beach Library and the neighborhood Syre Elementary School to broaden our outreach to the encampment,” she added.

The library is helping encampment residents get county library cards and will help with computer access at the library.

“This is a benefit because people need to register now for the lottery with the Seattle Housing Authority for Section 8 housing,” Marcia said.

One camp resident and Marcia met with the 4th-to-sixth-grade service club to talk about the camp.  The students will brainstorm how to help.  

On April 8, Kae Eaton from the Mental Health Chaplaincy led a workshop on how to companion those who are homeless.

At 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 13, Richard LeMieux, author of Breakfast at Sally’s, will be a guest speaker at the church.

His book is the story of his own descent into homelessness.  Richard is a writer and ex-businessman who was once happily married and the owner of several cars and three boats. Evicted from his luxury home after his business failed, and living with his dog, Willow, in a beat-up old van, he wrote Breakfast at Sally’s on secondhand typewriter. 

Now an international public speaker, he tells of his experiences as a homeless person and speaks on behalf of homeless people, educating people and offering hope.  He lives in Bremerton with Willow.

“It’s easy to look from afar,” said Richard. “We see people panhandling and living in cars. Most figure they’ve always been down. Maybe they fell further than we think.”

Marcia said the church is planning other educational opportunities, as well.

For information, call 206-542-7477 or email


Copyright © April 2015 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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