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Kitsap Homelessness: It's About Us

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Posted March 29, 2018 | Kitsap Culture

West Sound for Social Justice presents
With Moderator Josh Farley, Kitsap Sun

Sunday, April 15 @ 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Program starts promptly at 2:00 p.m.

West Sound for Social Justice (WSSJ) presents KITSAP HOMELESSNESS: IT’S ABOUT US on April 15th at the Bremerton United Methodist Church, 1150 Marine Dr., Bremerton. The public is invited to join us as we hear from the leaders in local homelessness work, learn how we can support them in their efforts, and explore possible solutions. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. for mingling, coffee, and light fare, guests will convene in the sanctuary at 1:55 for “Broken Man” by Rick Cortez, and the program will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m. View the most recent event email announcement (with plentiful listening and video links) at, though please note that Dezerae Hamblin’s affiliation has changed to “volunteer, StandUp for Kids.”

The Kitsap Sun’s Josh Farley will moderate the forum, which includes three panels:

   LIVED EXPERIENCE – Dezerae Hamblin – a volunteer with StandUp for Kids, Gerald Harris – a currently-homeless local resident, and the previously-homeless author Richard LeMieux (Breakfast at Sally’s).

   SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM – Bridget Callahan from the Housing Solutions Center of Kitsap County and Kurt Wiest from the Bremerton Housing Authority.

   POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS – Gina Chamberlain – a Housing Advocate, Renee Kimball – a currently-homeless Homeless Advocate, and Mike O’Shaughnessy, Director of the Kitsap Rescue Mission. The second and third panels will each be followed by a 15-minute Town Hall-styled Q&A.

We’ll conclude the afternoon with Monica Bernhard of Kitsap Mental Health Services, and a half-hour facilitated session to give our input on Kitsap County’s 2018 Homeless Housing Plan (see March 12th Community & Stakeholder Workshop powerpoint), which is set for approval by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on May 14th.

Seeking empowerment amid the dehumanizing force of homelessness in our community, we hope to tackle these questions and more: What is being done to address the homeless population locally? Why are the numbers of people who are susceptible to homeless on the rise? What happens when homeless encampments are evicted to make way for increased development? What can we do to help?

Join us as we explore the all-too-thin membrane between the housed and the houseless. Many of us are a mere paycheck or one medical crisis away from becoming homeless. Clearly, homelessness calls for us to look toward rather than away; it affects all of us.

Acoustic guitarist/ singer/songwriter Rick Cortes will perform music for the gathering and exit portions of the event. His own experience with homelessness led Rick toward music with a conscience. Together with his “forever sweetheart” and co-writer Lana Taylor, he penned songs addressing societal injustices, including “Broken Man,” a song of hope, faith, and restoring confidence in humanity as it relates to the plight of the homeless. “Broken Man” was submitted to Richard Lemieux’s Breakfast at Sally’s film project for consideration toward the movie soundtrack.

Make KITSAP HOMELESSNESS: IT’S ABOUT US part of your local kick off to National Volunteer Week (April 15th – 21st) and Kitsap Great Give (April 24th) as we take this opportunity to raise funds and supplies for Bremerton Foodline, StandUp for Kids, and the Bremerton Backpack Brigade. This family-friendly event includes child activity stations with parent helpers. It is part of an ongoing community conversation on homelessness and affordable housing.

West Sound for Social Justice works towards a better society through the sharing of information, advocacy, and direct action. We advocate policies that promote the general welfare of all people. Visit WSSJ online at for event background information, donation suggestions, and more.


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