I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sylvia Anderson, the CEO of Everett Gospel Mission. She’s been there for about 20 years. I took a few notes from our conversation and wanted to share those with you today.
First of all, a little information about Sylvia’s background. When she started working with the Everett Gospel Mission, she wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. So after eight months, she asked the board if she could stay and has been here ever since. She has two children, one adopted, and has also fostered a number of children.
When she was fostering, Sylvia didn’t realize she was training for her work with Everett Gospel Mission. There’s a strong correlation between foster care and homelessness: 40% of the homeless population has been in foster care.
Sylvia and I were talking about faith, and one of the first questions I asked her was, “How do you share faith with a group of people who may not see a lot of reason for faith?” She responded that actually, a lot of their clients have very strong faith. They get on their feet every morning searching for what they don’t see. “The Everett Gospel Mission sees the homeless as Jesus would.” Sylvia said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Sylvia gets the privilege of speaking with these people and helping them strengthen their faith that has already kept them going. They just don’t know the name behind it, so she and her staff have the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus, who has been with them and they may not have realized it.
“When we realize that the homeless are strong, valuable people, that helps alleviate judgment.” The Everett Gospel Mission looks at people as Jesus would see them. Part of their mission is to open the eyes of the community to see the value in every person.
The Everett Gospel Mission works to build connections between the homeless and the rest of the community. When someone loses their home, they can also lose their sense of belonging. Sylvia wants to make it clear that they have a respectful, strong community of people at the Everett Gospel Mission and this is where they belong.
Sylvia and I talked for a while, so watch out for parts two and three of our discussion in the next few days. If you have any questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to talk with you.