SEATTLE – St. Francis House, a local nonprofit serving Seattle’s homeless and those in need for the past 51 years, had their van and other supplies stolen Friday morning.
“Maybe just physical force (that) they were able to knock this door in?” questioned Jim Brennan, board president of St. Francis House.
Still in disbelief, Brennan showed executive director Kathy Collins how people likely broke into the facility early Friday morning.
“It was so shocking that they were able to find the key to the safe, get into the safe, find the hidden key to the van, load it up with all kinds of things, break open the gate and drive out. We never imaged having our van stolen that way,” said Collins.
The van was the only mode of transportation for St. Francis House.
“It’s such a valuable part of our operation for picking up donations and delivering items for our clients,” said Brennan.
More than 13,000 people were served by the facility last year.
“We have men, women and children, it’s usually about 60 percent men and 25 percent women and the rest families with children,” said Collins.
It’s not the fanciest facility, but community and company donations have allowed the non-profit to provide food, housewares, clothing and other items.
“Pretty much what anybody needs and we offer it for free with no questions asked and many of our clients have come for years or generations and find it a safe and welcoming place,” said Collins.
Now they’re feeling what it’s like to be on the other side, pictures of the damage show items strewn in hallways. Collins says whoever broke in stole the van, cash box, grocery and gas cards, bus tickets and other supplies.
“All they needed to do is come in when we’re open and we’ll give them virtually anything they want, we’re here to serve everyone. They don’t need to break in,” said Brennan.
They’re asking the public’s help to locate their white van with the St. Francis logo.
“I felt like I was punched in the stomach. It’s really a hard thing to find out. We love this place,” said Collins.
St. Francis House is also looking for donations of blankets, diapers, towels and winter coats for adults.