In 1985, in Washington D.C., Killian Noe and David Erickson founded Samaritan Inns, an effective and comprehensive response to homelessness and addiction. Samaritan Inns operates an alternative, 28-day residential treatment program, five transitional homes, and three longer-term housing communities in Washington, D.C.
Designated a national model by the Enterprise Foundation, Samaritan Inns has received the Terry McGovern Award for Excellence and Innovation in Treatment. It has been featured as a model for non-profit leadership in the 21st century Samaritan Inns was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy for spreading its innovative approach to other cities struggling with issues of homelessness and addiction through its mentoring system.
In 1999 Killian moved with her husband and two children to Seattle. She, along with Randall Mullins, started the New Creation Community, an ecumenical faith community committed to contemplation and action and to standing in the ever-widening gap between the world’s rich and poor. That same year Killian began to visit a wide variety of non-profit agencies in Seattle and surrounding areas in an effort to learn about the needs of people in Seattle and the city’s responses. She learned that 50% to 70% of the people living in Seattle’s shelters and transitional housing are struggling with some form of addiction as well as other mental health challenges, and that most of the housing programs do not have the funding or expertise to provide adequate recovery support for those individuals. Without that support, one’s efforts to maintain recovery and break the cycle of homelessness often come unraveled.
Killian began to share this unmet need with others in the New Creation Community. Community members Ruby Takushi, a respected psychologist, Mary Crow, with over 25 year’s experience in recovery work, and Cecilia McKean, a nurse and counselor, stepped forward. These women began meeting weekly at 6:00 am to pray, dream and envision what their response would be to this critical need. Others from New Creation Community gave their support, and generous visionary, Emmy Neilson, was the first to invest financially in the dream. After a long search for a space and a substantial renovation, Recovery Café opened its doors in January of 2004. The Café and its School for Recovery serves men and women traumatized by homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges who need an on-going supportive community in order to stabilize and maintain stability in mental health, relationships, housing and employment/volunteer service.