The inception of The Sophia Way can be traced back to the enduring passion and vision of an extraordinary woman – Helen Leuzzi. Many philanthropists donate money or inspire others. Helen took the idea of sheltering and supporting women experiencing homelessness from an inspiration to a full blown social service agency, with hundreds of volunteers, paid staff, community, government and foundational support, and a record of meeting the needs of women in crisis. The Sophia Way is a living-breathing legacy of Helen.
Helen’s involvement in social causes has a lengthy history. She served as the Outreach Chair at Bellevue First Congregational Church (BFCC) from 2006 to 2011 and spearheaded a grassroots group that saw a need to serve women without a home on the Eastside. As this effort took root, first becoming a day center and then a night shelter, Helen assumed the role of executive director of the night shelter, the genesis of what is now called The Sophia Way.
Under her strong leadership The Sophia Way matured from a small nonprofit to an organization that today serves hundreds of women daily as they transition to stability and independent living. Helen worked tirelessly, without compensation, doing absolutely everything needed to support women experiencing homelessness, listening to their stories and adapting the services offered based on their needs.
Helen was an outstanding advocate for women in need. As the Executive Director and founder of The Sophia Way, she was instrumental in changing and improving many lives – not only the lives of the women The Sophia Way serves – but thousands of people who knew her and have been inspired by her undying passion and perseverance.
Helen passed away in August 2016.
Today, we live Helen’s legacy. In continuing and expanding on the work that Helen has started, The Sophia Way strives to further Helen’s dreams of providing shelter and services to women in need.
Seattle Times, August 29, 2016: Helen Leuzzi, passionate advocate for homeless Eastside women, dies at age 55