Events - Hero of the Homeless

2016 Hero of the Homeless Luncheons

Making friends

Keynote Speaker: Rex Hohlbein

Founder of Facing Homelessness

Thanks to all who came out to our 2016 Hero of the Homeless Luncheons.

We hope you were inspired

We hope you were changed.

We hope you will make friends.










Imagine from Operation Nightwatch on Vimeo.



View past heros:

Heroes 2012 | Hero 2011 | Hero 2010 | Hero 2009 | Hero 2008 | Hero 2007 | Hero 2006 | Heroes 2005 | Hero 2004 | Hero 2003| Hero 2002 | Heroes 2001 | Hero 2000
Heroes 2012

Rev. Bud & Donna Palmberg

In 1967, a young minister, Rev. Bud Palmberg, organized clergy to walk the streets of Seattle late at night.

Pastor Bud had a full-time job, leading Mercer island Covenant Church. Plus, he had a young family.  How was he able to juggle family, church commitmtents, and still hang out in Pioneer Square, and 1st Avenue until 4:00 in the morning?  It could only happen with the power of the Holy Spirit and a strong wife, Donna Palmberg.  Both Bud & Donna had to make sacrifices, to get Nightwatch started.

Rev. Norm & Bonnie Riggins

Early on, Pastor Norm Riggins joined the ranks of the Nightwatch clergy volunteers.  When Nightwatch needed to hire a director, Pastor Norm was the man.  He left a comfortable, thriving church for the uncertainty of a poor funded organization.  His wife Bonnie organized the voluteers to answer a late-night crisis phone, and to distribute food and clothing to homeless people who came looking for help.

How many nights of shelter have been provided in 45 years? How many meals served? How many encouraging words have lifted those on the margins? How many pairs of socks have been dispensed? How much tangible and immediate good has been unleashed because of these four, who have cared through the decades, and still care today? For these reasons, and for so many more that must be left unsaid, we honor Bud & Donna Palmberg, and Norm & Bonnie Riggins as the Operation Nightwatch Heroes of the Homeless, 2012.

Hero 2011
Craig Rennebohm

As founder of the Mental Health Chaplaincy Program, Rev. Craig Rennebohm has been a community asset for decades. He gently and persistently seeks to develop friendships with mentally ill people, both on the street, and in various care settings in Seattle. His gentle, companion-oriented approach is holistic and therapeutic.

One of the great things about Craig’s work is the way he invites others to join him in creating loving relationships with mentally ill people.  Craig teaches faith communities of all types, helping others to walk alongside those who are suffering mental distress.  

As Mental Health Chaplain, Craig has been an advocate for community mental health systems. His teaching and influence has reached beyond Seattle, to state, national, and international settings.

Craig Rennebohm’s acclaimed book, Souls in the Hands of a Tender God, was written with David Paul, and published in 2008.


Thank you, Craig Rennebohm, for being a worthy “Hero of the Homeless.”

Hero 2010
Richard LeMieux
Does anyone really set out to be a “Hero of the Homeless?”
Richard LeMieux never set his sights on such an honor. He got to this moment through the most difficult of circumstances.
Having lost everything, Richard found himself on the brink of despair.  Living in his van with his little dog “Willow,” Richard was ready to end it all.  Instead, he wrote a book detailing his experience of homelessness.  The end product, Breakfast at Sally’s, challenges readers to respond to homeless people in their community.
Richard LeMieux is using his success, in speaking and writing, to encourage us to see and value homeless people, locally and across the country.
Hero 2009
Rev. Jean Kim

Well known for her persistence and determination in meeting the needs of homeless people, Rev. Jean Kim served for seven years as the founding pastor of the Church of Mary Magdalene. This church especially welcomes and supports homeless women.  Out of this has come the work of “Mary’s Place,” a daytime drop-in program for single women and women with children.

At Christmas, 1996, Rev. Kim decided there shouldn’t be any woman homeless for the holiday.  She convinced motel owners to give her free rooms to house homeless women.  That year, homeless women had a place of their own for Christmas.

It is tough to say “no”  to Jean Kim. For her relentless persistence in serving homeless people, Rev. Jean Kim is worthy to be called a “Hero of the Homeless.”

Hero 2008
Paul Butler & John Platt
In 2001, Tent City moved into the Madrona neighborhood.  Paul and John, owners of St. Clouds restaurant in the heart of Madrona, would not let the people go hungry.  They recruited volunteers and prepared meals for the 125 homeless residents of Tent City. Since that time, they have continued to organize groups to prepare quality meals for even more hungry people.  Each month, almost 400 people in shelters across the city are treated to the fine food prepared by volunteers through the Neighborhood Cooking Foundation. 
Hero 2007
Mindy Shivers
A Hero is someone who doesn't just stand on the sidelines but jumps in and gets involved. That's Mindy Shivers.

In 2006, Nightwatch was turning away an increasing number of women because the shelters were full. When Mindy learned that Nightwatch had a goal to open a women's emergency shelter, she took up the cause. Since then, Mindy's tireless fundraising efforts and inspiration have helped raise thousands of dollars for the shelter. Mindy took the initiative and got involved. That's what makes her Hero of the Homeless.
Hero 2006
Joe Martin

Joe found his life's calling at the Pike Market Medical Clinic, where he works to help needy people who line up outside his door. He's able to work through all manor of obstacles, from helping to find housing, to locating food sources, to aiding with the paperwork maze required to get government support and well beyond.

He has been active with the Seattle Displacement Coalition, Operation Homestead, Mental Health Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. In 2004, the Low Income Housing Institute honored Joe by naming their 41-unit transitional housing program in Georgetown "Martin Court."

Heroes 2005
Tony & Sharon Lee

Tony has been a voice for the poor and homeless as Advocacy Director for the Fremont Public Association, Legislative Director of the Washington Association of Churches and research associate for the Justice & Peace Center of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Sharon is the Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institue (LIHI), which has developed over 3,000 units of low-income housing.  LIHI also operates the Urban Rest Stop, which provides showers, restrooms and laundry facilities to homeless individuals.

A dynamic team together and two powerful voices individually, Tony and Sharon are indeed Heroes of the Homeless.

Hero 2004
Kay Abe, the Lord's Table Ministry
Kay Abe has fed the homeless since 1991.  With total reliance on God's provision, she leads groups in preparing and serving a hot meal outdoors downtown, rain or shine, four nights a week.  Her humble spirit, giving heart and commitment to the hungry have inspired hundreds of others to join in service to the needy.  Those she serves have come to call her "Mama" out of appreciation for her nurture of body and spirit.  Kay named her meal program "The Lord's Table," in recognition of her source of strength and supply.  Humbly, she directs all glory to God.
Hero 2003
Deacon Joe Curtis, St. James Cathedral
Deacon Joe Curtis, minister to the homeless from St. James Cathedral, has been involved with homeless people for over 20 years. Deacon Joe has provided a ministry presence at St. Martin de Porres Shelter, worked in the clothing room at Lazarus Day Center, helped found the Matt Talbot Recovery Center, and kept the needs of homeless people before the parishioners of St. James Cathedral. Twice monthly he brings sandwiches and provides volunteers to Operation Nightwatch.
Hero 2002
Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck
Council President Peter Steinbrueck has taken the lead for support of services and improved coordination of city resources for the neediest of our residents. His Safe Harbors initiative will improve life and help the shrinking public dollars be put to their best use in caring for people.
Heroes 2001
Ken Alhadeff & Dick Patterson

Synergy -- the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

It was a new millennium.  Ken Alhadeff and Dick Patterson got together for the first time, to talk about Operation Nightwatch, and figure out a way to get things happening.

Their ideas melded, changed, combined, grew.  Out of that came the “Hero of the Homeless” luncheon.

Ken Alhadeff has served as event host, emcee, and "pitchman."   He has been a passionate supporter, not only of Operation Nightwatch, but many other homeless service providers.  His company hosts a women’s shelter (Hammond House), and he and his wife Marleen have provided support and leadership to countless programs serving the poorest of the poor in the community.

Dick Patterson got involved with Operation Nightwatch when the current building was purchased in 1999.  He led the way through the confusing days of demolition and construction of the Operation Nightwatch shelter dispatch center.  His stamp on our organization is seen in the quality of the space used to serve homeless people.  His “big picture” and drive led to the launch and early success of the “Hero of the Homeless” program.

Dick and Ina Lou Spady, owner Dick's Drive-Ins
We met Dick Spady at a men's breakfast at his church about 1995. Since then Dick's Drive-Ins have provided 125 fresh cheeseburgers three times a week for our homeless friends. Additionally, each restaurant collects spare change from customers. Dick's matches these donations and divides the money between six different agencies serving homeless people. Dick and Ina Lou are fabulous assets to the community and have wide ranging interests.
Hero 2000
Ron Sims, Former King County Executive
Former County Executive Sims served for 10 years as a lay minister on the street from his church, Mount Zion Baptist. He would don a clerical collar once a month and go to the toughest areas of downtown Seattle, engaging street drunks and gang members in conversation.
Executive Sims has said, "Besides marrying my wife, and the birth of my children, nothing I have ever done has affected me like my involvement with Operation Nightwatch."
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