When Marty Hartman accepted the challenge to lead Mary's Place in 1999, her goal was to make sure no woman or child had to sleep outside in Seattle. And what started as a drop-in women's day center has now evolved into a network of shelters across King County.
And today, after 24 years and 1,400 families served, Hartman has decided the time has come to step aside.
"My love and gratitude runs deep," she said. "This place is my heart and soul. It will always be a piece of me."
In addition to the thousands of families served, Mary's Place said it has provided 231,176 nights of shelter, served 693,528 meals and helped 656 families find housing under Hartman's leadership.
Hartman, who said she's retiring from her role to spend more time with family, also leaves behind an impressive fundraising resume. During her time, Mary's Place's operating budget grew from $32,000 in 1999 to more than $30 million in 2023, "carrying no debt and healthy reserves," according to the nonprofit's website.
The largest partnership is with Amazon, which decided to partner with Hartman and Mary's Place by offering a permanent space downtown.
Hartman is still a constant presence at the shelters. She is often seen mingling and laughing with the women at Mary's Place who are trying to get back on their feet.
Her passion today feels unchanged from the same enthusiasm she brought with her 24 years ago.
"We're going to get there," she said. "We're going to show this nation that keeping kids in their homes is going to prevent another generation of homelessness."
The organization's No Child Sleeps Outside campaign is collecting donations through the end of the year with the goal of raising $4 million to answer the growing need with shelter, mobile outreach and homelessness prevention services.
Program Director Dominique Alex will take over as executive director when Hartman steps down.
"Her legacy will live on," said Alex. "It's that legacy of love and being a part of (the) solution even when it feels impossible. It's super possible."
Keeping up with the demand for housing is especially difficult, given the increase in homeless families forced into poverty. But despite the challenge, Hartman is not deterred. Even heading into a new chapter in her life.
"More must be done," said Hartman. "Until we address the disparities, until we address the oppressive systems in place right now, it will continue."