COVINGTON, WA – Covington Safe Parking (CSP) began as a partnership between St. John the Baptist Church and Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services (CCS/CHS) in November of 2018. CSP provides a safe location for people experiencing homelessness to stay overnight and have access to services that will lead to permanent housing options. CSP guests receive a parking sticker, an assigned parking space and use of showers and bathrooms. Gretchen Marshall, Case Manager, works with CSP clients and believes, “They are all victims of poverty, abuse, and mental illness. Everyone is different but they are all special, and they all deserve a home and a job.” In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, CSP is currently at full capacity, and clients staying at the facility continue to pursue sustainable housing solutions. According to CCS staff member Gretchen, “Just this week, two guests are moving into permanent housing!”
Like many CCS/CHS programs, CSP relies on the generosity and support of its community in order to operate successfully. And, like other agency programs, the COVID-19 outbreak has hindered the delivery of necessary supplies to CSP clients. In particular, access to nutritious food. Gretchen began personally delivering meals to her clients at the start of the pandemic. She soon reached out to her Facebook network for support. A family friend, Karla, connected Gretchen with the Covington City Council and the local Chick-fil-A. CPS guests now receive prepared meals daily from both sources. Gretchen has also received money to provide lunches, snacks, and other needed items for her clients.
We at CCS/CHS truly appreciate the efforts of the Covington City Council members, the Covington Chick-fil-A, and the Covington community to care for the guests of CSP. Collaboration and solidarity are crucial as we battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covington is a powerful example of strengthening community during a time of crisis through the provision of material and emotional support to neighbors in need.