Walt Le Couteur co-founded Kitsap Rescue Mission with Larry Cooney. The two Kitsap residents had met at Bread of Life Mission in Seattle.
They founded what was originally called the Bremerton Rescue Mission after recognizing the local need. Starting with the first meal that served seven guests at The Hub on Wheaton Way, the organization has grown to several meal sites and has expanded to offer various services. The most recent expansion was the opening of an overnight shelter in 2016.
Called Safe Harbor, the shelter can house 30 individuals and averages 20 guests each night. It accommodates men, women and families.
The Mission’s Dayroom provides hot coffee and snacks year-round, along with case management to about 20-25 people a month, education, employment services and other programs. This past January, 237 individuals visited the Dayroom.
Kitsap Rescue Mission also provides mobile showers, clothing distribution, nonresident transitional programs and other services.
Le Couteur is a Navy veteran who spent two tours in Vietnam and one cruise in Saudi Arabia, and later served in the Air Force as a missile launch officer. His previous career was in software engineering and IT, and at one point he owned his own business.
In 1997, following his involvement with a motorcycle ministry in North Carolina, Le Couteur started volunteering at the Raleigh Rescue Mission. When he was downsized from an IT position in 2003, he launched a new career — starting out as the director of ministry services at the Raleigh Rescue Mission.
Moving back to Washington in 2006 so he and his wife could be closer to their aging parents, Le Couteur continued on this career path. He was the business administrator at the Bread of Life Mission when he met Cooney. In 2009, they both left Bread of Life to pursue their dream of opening a rescue mission on the Kitsap Peninsula.
“Rescue mission work is demanding and at time, heartbreaking,” he says. “But when an individual makes the choice to change his or her life, then I get the opportunity to watch them grow and succeed. It is the greatest feeling in the world to see a life transformed.”
For more information about Kitsap Rescue Mission, go to kitsaprescue.org.
Why Start this Work
As I began to volunteer with the Raleigh Rescue Mission, I saw the need and the opportunity to become part of something that really made a difference. When I was downsized from my IT job, it was a natural transition and knew that I was called by God to be involved in this life-changing process. I already knew the staff and some of the residents so it was an easy and rewarding transition.
The Importance of This Work
Each person is a creation of God and is the most important resource in our community. Restoration of a life, though rewarding, is difficult but it is the work that I was called to accomplish.
Best Part of the Job
The best part of my job is to see men and women find peace and security in our building. It is only when we meet these basic needs that we can start working to rebuild lives.
The biggest challenge is to overcome all the negativity that surrounds homelessness in both the homeless and the community. It is an ongoing process with both our guests and our community to educate and demonstrate the needs and the positive sides of combating homelessness.
Best Compliment on the Job
The best compliment I have received has been from community members who say, “Thank you for what you do; you are making a difference.”
Things I can’t Live Without
God, family and friends are the highest on my list of items that I need to live.
Best Way to Relax
The best way for me to relax is a quiet time in a coffee house. I met my wife, Mary, in a small coffee house and I find that returning to that surrounding always calms my spirit.
Hobbies Outside of Work
I like doing puzzles like sudoku, table puzzles and the like. I also enjoy walks along the water or through the woods.