Olympia social service agency Bread & Roses is closing after 35 years of helping low-income and homeless residents in Thurston County.
The nonprofit community has its headquarters at 1320 Eighth Ave. SE and a duplex next door. Since forming in 1982, Bread & Roses has provided shelter and resources for hundreds of people, and at one time operated a soup kitchen and drop-in center on Cherry Street.
Eight women live at the community, including board member Selena Kilmoyer, who has lived there 16 years. She confirmed that Bread & Roses will officially dissolve Feb. 28, and that affordable housing organization Homes First has shown an interest in buying the two properties on Eighth Avenue.
Two factors in the charity’s closure are money and lack of support for new projects.
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“We decided maybe it was just a good time to let it go,” Kilmoyer told The Olympian.
In the past, the organization worked to keep the Devoe Street Men’s Shelter (now Drexel House) open for the homeless and formed partnerships with services such as the SideWalk rehousing program, EGYHOP needle exchange, Camp Quixote homeless community, Food Not Bombs and Partners in Prevention Education.
Kilmoyer said she has been personally enriched by helping people through Bread & Roses.
“It has given me real lessons to be able to understand and appreciate people,” she said. “When you do it 24-7, you get a lot of practice.”
In 2014, Bread & Roses modified its mission as local rental assistance and shelter programs became more successful in moving the homeless into permanent housing. That’s when the organization began providing affordable housing for a handful of low-income residents who work in the local social service community.
Board member Meta Hogan, who came to Bread & Roses in 2003, said the organization’s closure has been anticipated for a while.
“I’ve really enjoyed being here and going through all the different incarnations,” said Hogan, a live-in volunteer. “We want to close with integrity and dignity.”