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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Bellingham community raises $30,000 for Lighthouse Mission

Hans Echringer-Davis, the Lighthouse Mission’s executive director, addresses the crowd during the gala // photo by Sophie Miller

By Sophie Miller

The Lighthouse Mission Ministry hosted a benefit gala Feb. 25, raising over $30,000 for its drop-in center.

Hundreds of attendees participated in silent and live auctions, heard Mission guests’ stories, watched performances and donated to the cause.

The Lighthouse Mission is an organization that provides aid to the homeless in the greater Bellingham community. Its drop-in center is the first way guests interact with the mission. It is a place where guests can eat a meal and get some sleep. The drop-in center also has an eye-clinic, legal counsel and chapel.  

The gala generated over 15 percent of the money needed to keep the shelter operating.

Alumna Alissa McSharry planned the event. She was most excited about hearing guest testimonies and the dance performance from “Dancing for Joy.”

McSharry is passionate about the work being done and believes it goes deeper than providing the homeless with shelter and food.

“The goal here is to not just give people a meal and a bed, it’s about changing lives.”
Alumna Alssa McSharry 

The Mission has existed for over 90 years and is the only shelter between Everett and Vancouver. An average of 210 people stay at the drop-in center each night.

Attendees of the Lighthouse Mission Light in the Night Gala settle into their seats as the silent auction ended and Mission employees and guests began to tell their stories // photo by Sophie Miller

The night included talks from Han Erchinger-Davis, the Mission’s executive director, and Justin Mattix, the manager of the drop-in center. They provided insight into the work being done by the Mission.

Erchinger-Davis introduced what the Mission stands for and how it serves the community.

“The Lighthouse Mission has been working to end the cycle of homelessness in the lives of men, women and children,” Erchinger-Davis said.

Erchinger-Davis had to turn away guests every night when he first was hired at the Mission. In August 2016, he called on the board members to open the drop-in center 24 hours a day.

The community was enthusiastic to help. McSharry believes people want to help but they don’t always know how. This event is a good way to support the homeless community and learn more about ways they can engage said McSharry.

In October 2016, their drop-in center became a 24 hours a day facility. Funding this work annually costs $200,000. The Light in the Night Gala raised money specifically for this part of the Mission’s work.

Mike and Marsi, two Mission guests, shared their stories and the impact the Mission had on their lives. Mike has been able to move out of the Mission and now works for Whatcom Transportation Association. Marsi is living in the Mission’s Agape home and is working to maintain custody of her grandson.  

The evening concluded with Ray Bakke giving a talk about urban ministry. Bakke has worked in the field of urban ministry for over 25 years.

The Lighthouse Mission continues to serve those affected by homelessness in Whatcom County and beyond. Volunteer opportunities can be found on the Mission’s website.

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