William & Catherine Booth ALIVE AND WELL IN SEATTLE
BY CINDY COTHERN –
Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth are alive and well and back at work in the Pacific Northwest. Today the Booths are sheltering the homeless in Seattle, furthering their mission to serve the whole person–body, mind and spirit.
The Salvation Army William Booth Center and Catherine Booth House are under the direction of Majors Dave and Liz Clitheroe. The William Booth Center offers an array of services aglow with the General’s spirit meeting the needs of homeless men, while Catherine Booth House offers his wife’s comforting and nurturing to battered women and their children. Seattle is perhaps the only city in the world that operates facilities named for both its founders.
William Booth Center
Those living on the streets call the William Booth Center “The Salvation Army Hilton.” This “hotel,” however, offers much more than beds and meals. It is the birthplace of several programs to help homeless men attain self-sufficiency and homes of their own.
The Salvation Army opened the three-story, 41,700 square-foot shelter in 1992 in partnership with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The new facility took the place of the Harbor Light Center, serving Seattle’s homeless since 1893, and added a multi-tiered approach to ending homelessness for men living on the streets. The William Booth Center is the Western Territory’s nominee for The Salvation Army’s 2000 National Social Services Award.
Though in Seattle, the William Booth Center serves all homeless men who find themselves living on the city’s streets. The homeless come from Seattle as well as places across the nation because of the Puget Sound area’s mild year-round climate, the many human services provided and the relative safety of the Emerald City.
The Emergency Shelter provides men a safe and clean place to stay at no cost for a limited time. Men are able to meet with counselors to help determine goals. If they desire a self-supporting, independent lifestyle, they have the option of moving into the Transitional Shelter.
The Transitional Shelter program provides low-income men living accommodations and meals for a low weekly fee. With a locker to store their possessions, a mailing address, phones, showers and a laundry, homeless men are able to seek and find employment or secure an income by obtaining benefits. Shelter residents are able to link with employment opportunities, begin a savings plan and set goals to attain independence and a home of their own. All programs at William Booth Center are clean and sober. Support groups are offered for those in recovery. Donald Dittmer, Jr., 41, disabled and formerly homeless, says “The William Booth Center offers the greatest opportunities for a man who is willing to work for tomorrow. It provides an atmosphere with all the basic tools for our transition back to a stable, self-supporting lifestyle. I’ve chosen to use it as an opportunity for personal success.”
In league with the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, a Medical Respite program was started. The Salvation Army has set aside beds for homeless men who are well enough to be released from the hospital, but still need nursing care. Two nurses are on call and monitor the patients’ health. The nurses report the patient’s condition to a doctor. “If it wasn’t for William Booth Center, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Vernon Thompson, homeless and recovering from foot surgery. Nurse Karen Rohrbacher says, “Whatever the problem, whether it’s a broken bone or the flu, we help these guys get well again. If they went back to the streets they would have a very tough time recovering.” The program is the first of its kind and a service needed for a long time. According to Bette Pine, Department of Public Health, “The respite program at William Booth is a smashing success!”
The Transitional Living program was established in partnership with HUD. The Center offers 46 furnished, single rooms on the second and third floors of the William Booth Center. Residents pay a rate based on a percentage of their income and may stay in this program for up to one year. Transitional Living residents have a small private dining room and lounge. Meals and bag lunches are provided.
Caseworkers work one-to-one with residents to help them set and achieve goals. Working closely with Salvation Army staff, clients strive to improve their skills in order to increase their incomes to earn a living wage. David Armstrong, 33, was a homeless veteran referred to William Booth Center by the Veterans Administration, explains, “I had no place to go. I heard that the shelter helps people to get focused and find a permanent job. My first impression was kind of like going to boot camp in the Army. It’s different however. The staff here are professionals and never look down on you. They do their best to try and help. My goal is to save enough for my own apartment. Right now I am a little over half way there.”
The Salvation Army partnership with HUD and the client has achieved tremendous success in ending homelessness for single men. The success rate of the William Booth Center is 75%, while the success rate of other similar programs is 50%. Other partners in the successful program include King County Veterans Affairs, the Seattle Veterans Medical Center, Mental Health Services and Health Care for Homeless Veterans programs. Last year alone the William Booth Center helped 1,859 homeless men.
An outgrowth of this accomplishment is a new partnership the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans no longer in need of acute care, but still in need of supportive care, will find transitional and life-skill services at The Salvation Army’s facility. The VA will award the Army $275,000 to expand the William Booth Center and offer 30 additional beds for homeless veterans.
Catherine Booth House
Catherine Booth’s spirit is at work in the lives of women and children. In a house that looks like any other, in a quiet neighborhood that looks quite normal, at an address that is secret, is the Catherine Booth House. The Salvation Army residence is a confidential emergency shelter for battered women and their children. The address is not listed in any directory. The location of Catherine Booth House is kept secret to protect the victims of domestic violence in the shelter. The women and children are hidden and safe from the pursuit of their batterers, who often stalk them or threaten violence to them or anyone who helps them.
The Salvation Army program began in 1976 and was the first shelter for battered women and their children in Seattle/King County. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, the leading cause of injury to women in the United States is domestic violence, occurring more often than all auto accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
The women and children served at Catherine Booth House are fleeing dangerous situations where remaining could mean serious physical harm or even death. Over time the frequency of abuse escalates and becomes more potentially fatal.
“Bev Scott,” battered mother of two, remembers her husband’s pattern of violence, “He’d calm down, be so very sorry, and convince us to stay with him. I did for a long time, for the sake of being a family. But as it got worse, I took the kids and left–five or six times. Each time, for financial or other reasons, he convinced us to come back. And each time it was worse. Many times I was hurt so bad I desperately needed a doctor and he wouldn’t let me leave with the kids. One time…I was all cut up, bad. I left with them anyway.”
After being treated at the hospital, Bev and her children found their way to The Salvation Army Catherine Booth House. There, staff provided a safe haven and comprehensive services that meant the difference between life and death. “It’s been such a relief to have the help and comfort of The Salvation Army,” says Bev. “I could stop worrying every minute of my life. I could concentrate on the appropriate steps to get on with life. I didn’t have to look behind me anymore. And now, with their help we’re making it.
Catherine Booth House offers shelter for up to 20 women and children each night. Residents may stay for up to four weeks. Last year 501 women and children found refuge at the shelter. Staff operates a 24-hour crisis phone. Women receive individual and group counseling, legal advocacy, public assistance advocacy, employment counseling and have access to a weekly health clinic. While at the shelter, dedicated professional staff help each woman explore the best ways to begin a safe life for her and her family.
Fifty percent of the clients served at Catherine Booth House are children; 60 percent of the children are preschool age. Staff know that children from homes with domestic violence have higher rates of school drop out, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment. They have also have learned that children who witness domestic violence are affected in the same way as children who are physically or sexually abused. While mothers are being helped, the children are also provided counseling as well as therapeutic day care. At Catherine Booth House every effort is made to help heal the children as well as their mothers.
A new aspect of the Catherine Booth House program focuses on the King County jail. A Salvation Army community advocate and a legal advocate go to the jail weekly leading a support group for victim defendants. The group discusses violence education, safety planning and peer support. The advocates also counsel victims individually who are jail inmates.
Once a woman decides to leave her abuser, she may enter The Salvation Army’s Hickman House. Hickman House offers nine apartments to women and their children so that they may have privacy, support services, and time to become stable and self-sufficient.
Salvation Army staff is committed to providing a multicultural and diverse program to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all battered women–turning victims into survivors.