I have been visiting Seattle yearly since 1997. As most cities, it is exciting and beautiful, and fun to visit. I have my favorite places to go like dinner at Il Fornaio where I always order my favorite Butternut Squash Ravioli with Fried Sage. A decadent dessert is always served up at Dilettantes and the view from the Space Needle of the city in lights is a perfect ending to to any city excursion.
This time however, I did not see the city through the eyes of Dr. Frasier Crane. I head down Pine Street toward the famous Pike Street market, past malls, designer shops and fabulous restaurants. There by the fountain curtain we see anywhere from 5-20 street kids; an older woman in a wheelchair, oxygen tank in tow holding a sign that says "Homeless. Anything helps", and an African American pushing a shopping cart, overflowing with all of his worldly possession.
Today, my last day in Seattle, I traveled past many of the people I had gotten to know over the past few days and wished I could somehow do something more to help them all. I continued on my way heading towards the Space Needle and there amongst the poverty and degradation of street life is a small miraculous new chance at life. A chance called lucky.
Noel House is Seattle's largest shelter for homeless women, giving them a safe, secure and compassionate place to lay their heads and the ability to begin a new life. The shelter which provides beds for 40 women each night is temporarily located in the basement of Sacred Heart Church while it's new home, Bakhita Gardens, is nearing completion just a few blocks away.
She was born to a life of wealth, but at the tender age of 9 was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. Due to the traumatic events of being sold and re-sold over the next eight years, the name of this small girl was forgotten. The slave name Bakhita, which was the Arabic word for "lucky", was given to her. After years of being beaten horribly, scarred by scarification and tattooing, she was bought by a family from Italy.
After serving as nanny to the family's daughter she stayed behind in Italy after winning her freedom strictly because it was against the law in Italy to own a slave. She became a nun at the home where she had lived with the sisters for many years and chose the name Josephine. She spent the rest of her life attending to the sick and seeking justice for women, especially those who were treated as she was. With abuse.
"We see the same resilience and power she exemplified in the community of women we are so fortunate to serve," states the brochure of this extraordinary home. So with "lucky" Josephine Bakhita behind the scenes, so to speak, the Noel House is sure to continue growing strong and helping those whose majority of clients are mentally ill, in poor health and/or chemically dependent, many of which are survivors of domestic violence and other physical or mental abuse.
But with over 40% of Noel House funding coming strictly from donations, finances are still needed to be able to continue the incredible work that is being done here. So let luck be a lady tonight and help this very worthwhile shelter from the storm of life.