When Dorothy Stima died last March at age 70, she left more than her loving family. She left a legacy of hope and help for women experiencing homelessness. Now, a new place of refuge named in her honor — Dorothy’s House — will offer shelter for those who are pregnant and in need.
In 2005, the Lake Stevens woman founded and became executive director of the Monroe Gospel Women’s Mission. Up to 18 women stay at that shelter on Monroe’s South Lewis Street. Along with a warm place to live for up to 90 days, they find meals, clothing, case management and encouragement. There are optional daily Christian devotions, too.
On Jan. 19, about 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting and blessing at Dorothy’s House, which last week had yet to welcome its first client.
“We just had a prayer of dedication,” said John Stima, 50, who is Dorothy Stima’s son and lead pastor of Monroe Baptist Church.
He and his 23-year-old daughter, Lizzy Stima, Dorothy’s granddaughter, believe it won’t be long before three pregnant women with no other safe places to stay move into the yellow house. It’s near downtown Monroe, about a half-mile from the larger shelter.
Dorothy’s House will operate under the umbrella of the nonprofit Monroe Gospel Women’s Mission, John Stima said. The mission, in a house that was purchased by his father Frank Stima, is supported by donations and fundraising events, with a total of about $125,000 per year, he said.
The home that’s now Dorothy’s House is owned by a woman who’s renting it to the nonprofit. John Stima expects its annual operating cost to be about $25,000.
Fully renovated, freshly painted and with new furniture, the three-bedroom house is ready for its mission. Their plans envision a “house mom” living there, along with three pregnant women.
“It will be a beautiful home, filled with full hope of the future,” said Lizzy Stima, who’ll be the client liaison.
The father and daughter expect Dorothy’s House referrals to come from the Pregnancy Resource Center, a Christian-based nonprofit in Everett. Its stated mission includes offering “help to anyone considering abortion by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support.”
“We want to provide them with an option,” said John Stima, adding that he’s “pro-life.”
Dorothy’s House residents must be at least 18. They’ll stay rent-free, and will have mentors, possibly women from Monroe Baptist Church. The women will learn about nutrition and attend life-skills classes and weekly meals through Take the Next Step, a Monroe nonprofit.
Applications to live in the house have been sent to several organizations, Lizzy Stima said. With a communications degree from Bob Jones University, she also works as an activities director at Regency Care Center in Monroe.
The seeds of the Monroe Gospel Women’s Mission were planted years ago, John Stima said. Dorothy Stima once worked at the Everett Gospel Mission Women & Children’s Shelter.
“She’d be taking phone calls and come home crying,” he said, recalling how his mom had to tell callers the Everett shelter was full.
People at the Monroe Gospel Women’s Shelter have ranged in age from 18 to 79, and nearly half have been over 50, John Stima said. “With the cost of housing, they run out of options. Some aren’t old enough for Social Security,” he said.
His mother, who died of cancer March 31, never stopped wanting to help.
John Stima is the eldest of seven. After he was born to Dorothy and Frank Stima, his parents adopted six more children. And after her family was raised, Dorothy earned a psychology degree from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
In a way, the place awaiting its first mothers-to-be is the house that Dorothy built. “Grandma was thinking about doing this,” Lizzy Stima said.
“My mom, she never gave up on anybody,” John Stima added.