The idea of Gilead House starts with a chance encounter.
In 1997, Michelle was discussing with the pastor of Bay Marin Community Church in Marin County what their church could do to serve their local community. For several months, this discussion continued.
Did you know?
There were more than 1,200 homeless children living in Marin in 1997, and that number has increased each year.
Michelle worked in San Francisco and regularly took the bus to the City. After being dropped off near downtown, she would walk several blocks to her office. Along the route, Michelle often passed a woman sitting against a building with a sign saying she was homeless and welcomed any kindness. Over time, these daily encounters led to each acknowledging the other, and occasionally Michelle would stop for a few minutes to talk.
One day, Michelle passed the homeless woman and saw a small girl sitting with her. When she asked who the girl was, the woman introduced her as her daughter. Never imagining the homeless woman was a mother, Michelle was very moved. The following week, she told her pastor about the homeless woman and her child, and said they could perhaps best serve the community by providing support and a safe home to homeless moms and their kids. And from that, the idea of Gilead House was born.
The idea comes to life.
No idea comes to life without the help and support of many, and numbers of people at Bay Marin got involved in bringing this idea to life. While researching homelessness in Marin County, Bay Marin found there were more than 1,200 homeless children living in the county. The majority of these children were under the care of a single mother.
After many months of research, planning and fundraising, Gilead House became a reality. The name Gilead was chosen as it refers to a region in ancient Israel set aside as a place of refuge and healing. The name seemed to describe perfectly the home in Marin County that was being offered to families in need.
Rather than an institutional setting, a rented four-bedroom house in the hills of Novato was chosen to provide a safe, clean, and warm home in a safe neighborhood: the first step toward the positive self-image needed by the homeless mothers and their children. This home was the first real home environment that some of the kids would ever have.
The first three families moved into Gilead House in October of 1999. Since that time, Gilead House has served more than 100 women and their children through a vast team of dedicated staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to support resident families striving for personal and economic stability. Today, Gilead House provides housing, support, and learning opportunities for up to twelve families at two locations in Novato.