The Kitsap Rescue Mission was founded in 2009 when two leaders from the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle recognized the need for help for the homeless on the Kitsap Peninsula. In June 2009, Walt Le Couteur and Larry Cooney, who lived in Kitsap County, began planning for the Mission in Bremerton– Larry took the lead as the Start-Up Director. The Bremerton Rescue Mission was born! On October 23, the Mission served its first meal at The Hub on Wheaton Way. There were only seven guests, but it was the start! Throughout 2010 the mobile meal ministry expanded and on August 1, 2010, Walt Le Couteur took over as Executive Director.
Also in August 2010, the Red Couch Ministry joined the Bremerton Rescue Mission and we had our first staff member! Our mobile meal ministry continued to expand and then, in March 2011, we were able to open two Discipleship Homes for men in temporary locations, homes in foreclosure where we were given permission to occupy and operate. In April 2011, we assisted in opening Georgia’s House, an Emergency Women’s Shelter also located in Bremerton.
In 2012, the Board of Directors made an important decision. They believed that, since we serve the entire county, our name should reflect our whole area of service and not just one city. So in March 2012, we officially changed our name to the Kitsap Rescue Mission. As we became more well-known, other agencies working with the homeless and poor sought to work with us to expand both the Mission’s outreach and theirs. Always wanting to cooperate with other agencies and organizations serving the homeless population, we took on two fiscal partners in April 2013, to expand our services and meal sites to the northern and southern parts of our county: FaithLiNK, a group of service providers in the northern part of the county, and Bringing it to the Streets (BITTS), a meal program in Port Orchard.
In October 2013, we opened a Winter Dayroom at 1003 5th St. in Bremerton to provide a place for the homeless to come in out of the weather for warmth, snacks and conversation. In April 2014, we purchased our current building at 810 6th St. in Bremerton as the new home for the Mission. The building is old and had been standing empty for more than a decade, so is in need of major repair and renovation. We received permission from the city and moved our offices to the new location in January of 2015. Shortly thereafter, we also moved our Dayroom and our Donations Center to the new building. In October 2015, when we reopened the Dayroom for the winter, we made the decision to make the Dayroom a year-round operation. It has been a great blessing to many – guests and volunteers alike – since that time!
In February 2016, we met another long-time goal of the Mission – to provide overnight shelter for homeless men, women, and children. On February 22, we started providing showers (using our mobile shower unit) and shelter for men, women, and children seven nights per week! We were forced to close the shelter in May due to a lack of volunteers but reopened in November of 2016 with three new paid employees. The shelter now operates seven days a week.