In December 1992 Cyd & Skip Li moved from Mercer Island to 16th Avenue NE with a vision and a deep desire to spend time with college students. After several years of obedience and prayer, others began to join them in their calling by setting down roots in this neighborhood.
In 1996, some close friends – Jack McMillan, Tom Jonez, and Morrie Pigott – approached the Li’s about helping purchase a house in the U District where students could live in community and learn leadership as taught by Jesus. The result was Vision 16. They bought the North House, right next door to the Li’s, and during the ’96-97 school year twelve guys lived in the house.
The first Vision 16 house generated such interest that a long waiting list developed of men who wanted in for the upcoming year. Some women wanted a chance to experience the same thing and began to inquire about a second house. The search for a second house began, and soon the 17th Ave House was found. Tom, Morrie & Skip felt the house was much too large; Jack insisted it was perfect. His dreaming and big vision inspired the rest, and the house was purchased in 1997.
By the beginning of the ’97-98 school year, the Ave House was filled with 47 men; the North House had its first group of women. Wes and Nancy Anderson answered the call to move to the U District, and taking a large step of faith chose to live in the house during its inaugural year as “house parents.” The little room at the bottom of the stairs is known as the “Anderson Suite” in their honor. The next year the Andersons bought a house on 16th and 52nd; their upstairs became the “Annex” to the Ave House.
In 1999, Vision 16 bought what is now the South House, and had a group of graduate women living there during the ’99-00 school year. The following year, those women moved on and the house wasfilled with undergraduate women. Don & Heather Valencia and Theresa Schulz joined the Vision 16 group when the South House was purchased, and shortly after Valencias moved into the U District.
In Spring of 2008, Vision 16 bought what is now the Tree House, next door to the South House, transforming it from a run-down rooming house into a gorgeous home full of bright women. George & Alyssa Petrie and Adam & Jaime Hestad joined the ownership group with this purchase, and everyone worked hard over the summer to ready the house for occupancy in fall of 2008.
In 2009, Vision 16 leadership realized that even more leadership could be given to the students, and as a result, Vision 16 staff was reduced to one full time staff; the difference was made up by House Presidents who have taken charge of their individual house. Now most decisions pertaining to the houses are made by students; as a result student by-in, ownership, and leadership has greatly grown.
Vision 16 is still growing and changing; students are continuing to be transformed as they encounter Jesus and explore life in community, and those of us lucky enough to be involved are anything but exempt from the life change.