Melissa Gragg (Wisener): Executive Director
Melissa is a lifetime resident of Washington state, and resident of Whatcom county. Melissa joined the fight for homelessness and proper care services after suffering at the hands of a domestic violence situation. Leaving this situation made her homeless and penniless. Melissa reached out for help from every organization she knew of in Bellingham and was further traumatized by the lack of help and care she was shown. Melissa was lucky enough to have friends that invited her and her child to move into their home with them, this stability allowed Melissa to begin to rebuild her life. After experiencing the lack of services and help available to people in this position Melissa teamed up with Markis Dee and has been fighting for housing, mental health services, domestic violence victims, and human rights ever since. This was the birthplace of Serenity Outreach Services.
Louis Burrell: Director of Operations
Louis has been a resident of Whatcom county since 1999. For more than eight years Louis lived and worked in downtown Bellingham. Living downtown made Louis very aware of the homeless situation in Bellingham, and the dire straits the people on the streets faced every day. Instead of walking by his neighbors that lived outside, Louis talked with them and learned their needs on a one on one basis. After supplying food and supplies via outreach Louis took his help a step further and provided a number of his houseless neighbors shelter within his own home. Louis maintained his concern and interest in the houseless community of Bellingham and became especially concerned during the sweeps of 2020 when people were being moved from spot to spot with no additional services or supplies provided to them. Louis was asked to join SOS Bellingham after showing strong advocacy, and they are lucky enough to make use of his background in Operations, Regulatory Compliance, and Finance.
Markis Dee Stidham: Director of Civic Engagement
Markis has lived in Whatcom county since he was a teenager in 1983. Markis spent the first 17 years or so living on Lummi Island where he was a reef net fisherman. Markis spent many of his years on Lummi Island living in a tiny home community where he learned the true meaning of “community”. Markis began his advocacy in different areas in 2016. Markis was a strong volunteer and advocate for HomesNow, he built the shower truck with other volunteers, and ran the shower truck giving showers to people living on the street. In 2019 Markis was asked to sit on the board of HomesNow after HomesNow was rocked with a large scandal. He was able to work with the other volunteers of HomesNow to keep it afloat and moving forward. Also in 2019, Markis was appointed to the county’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup as Homeless Advocate. He was unanimously re-appointed in 2020 for this county position for a two year term. Markis has been heavily involved in outreach to our citizens on the street for several years, passing out food, supplies, warm clothing, and shoes. Starting Serenity Outreach Services was born from Markis’ knowledge of what Whatcom county needs to better serve his houseless neighbors.
Changes to our Board of Directors are being prepared and will be shared publicly shortly.