HISTORY OF THE TINY HOUSE – CAMP MERCY PROJECT
Skip Steffen, Executive Director, had a dream for many years to create an island of refuge in the sea of chaos that is life on the street. He envisioned a place where folks would be met with love and acceptance, but also a place where they were accountable for their sobriety and behaviors. This place would also act as a bridge to finding direction in their lives and the resources to begin that journey. The Mission’s tiny houses represent a culmination of that dream.
The tiny houses were being built as part of a New Market, Youth Build school project funded by the Lacey, Olympia, Gateway Rotary Clubs. The project was suddenly halted March 2020 because of the pandemic – school was closed, and the project stopped while only being partially completed.
The project needed a home and volunteers to help finish what had been started, so the City helped move six tiny homes onto the Mission property. Jack Olsen, a Mission board member, coordinated help to put the final touches on each house so they would be ready to be lived in.
Plans were now coming to fruition. Jackie Smith, the counselor, works with the six tiny house occupants. Knowing what life can be like living on the edge, her knowledge helps to keep communication open with the residents and she encourages them in their sobriety and becoming employed. “They have to produce fruit from this program. Some will make it and some will not. So, the ones we are aiming for don’t belong on the streets, don’t like the streets, and aren’t safe on the streets,” says Jackie.
TINY HOUSE – CAMP MERCY PROGRAM
The Mission’s five-unit tiny house village, CAMP MERCY is an adjunct to the Mission’s Day Center.
“Camp Mercy” is intended to provide Program Members respite, safety and security in a “Clean and Sober Tiny House” on Olympia Union Gospel Mission property to escape the stresses and temptations common to living the homeless lifestyle. It is our hope that Program Members will use this opportunity to reevaluate their lives and seriously consider these questions:
The Mission is ready to help those who choose to make positive changes in their lives. Camp Mercy is not a place to serve long-term homelessness; rather it is a safe environment in which individuals may constructively work toward self-sufficiency. Participants meet with a counselor weekly to help them seek out resources to address:
The counselor will help them look for employment and learn to budget and manage their finances.
The Olympia Union Gospel Mission is a Christian organization. We strongly believe that it is our relationship with God that has changed our lives. The Mission does not require a profession of faith to be admitted to Camp Mercy. But the Mission does strongly suggest that participants take this opportunity to explore the Christian faith while in the camp, during their meetings with the counselors, and by attending church services.
If you are interested in applying to Camp Mercy, please complete the application below.