Thomas House Family Shelter Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Co-Founder Mary E. Selz While Mourning Her Loss
Thomas House Family Shelter Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Co-Founder Mary E. Selz While Mourning Her Loss

Mary Selz, co-founder of Thomas House Family Shelter, honored as Outstanding Founder at 2022 National Philanthropy Day

Founders & Former Executive Director of Thomas House Family Shelter smiling at charity walk event in Garden Grove park, wearing event sweatshirts with logo

Former Executive Director, Sister Kathy Stein, Co-Founder Bernie Selz, Co-Founder Mary Selz

Selz Family at  Thomas House Family Shelter Autumn Reflections Gala posing with ship's wheel at gala event, surrounded by blue, white, and gold balloons, representing their guidance and steadfast direction in support of unhoused families in need.

Selz Family at 2022 “Legacy Voyage” Autumn Reflections Gala for Thomas House Family Shelter

GARDEN GROVE, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, December 29, 2023 / — It is with profound sadness and a deep sense of gratitude for her remarkable life that Thomas House Family Shelter announces the passing of our beloved co-founder, Mary E. Selz, on December 20th, 2023, in Garden Grove, California. Mary Selz, alongside her husband Bernie, has been a beacon of hope and a driving force behind our mission since the shelter’s inception in 1986.

Mary and Bernie Selz founded Thomas House Family Shelter with a profound commitment to empowering at-risk families and those experiencing homelessness. Their vision was not just to provide shelter but to equip families with the necessary resources and tools for independence and self-sufficiency. Through their extraordinary vision and dedication, Mary and Bernie inspired a movement that has profoundly impacted countless lives.

Mary’s belief in our mission and her unwavering support have been instrumental in fueling our initiatives. As a pillar of encouragement and wisdom, she provided invaluable guidance and support, driving the growth and success of Thomas House Family Shelter in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Reflecting on Mary’s profound influence, Shakoya Green Long, CEO of Thomas House Family Shelter, shared a personal memory: “I vividly remember when I joined Thomas House, and Mary went out of her way to make me feel welcome. She personally prepared a spread of boiled eggs and baked goods, taking the time to share the incredible story of Thomas House. It was a gesture that touched my heart and exemplified Mary’s selflessness and dedication. Mary, you were a rare gem, and I consider myself truly blessed to have crossed paths with you. Your impact on our organization and the countless families and lives you touched will forever be remembered. Your legacy will continue to inspire us as we carry on the important work that you started.”

In addition to her immense contributions to Thomas House, Mary Selz’s remarkable achievements were nationally recognized when she accepted the Outstanding Founder award at National Philanthropy Day in 2022. This honor not only reflected her dedication and passion for philanthropy but also served as a testament to her unwavering commitment to enriching the lives of others.

As we mourn the loss of Mary Selz, we also celebrate her remarkable life and contributions. Thomas House Family Shelter remains steadfast in our commitment to continuing her mission. We honor her memory and uphold her legacy by persisting in our work with even greater dedication.

Service Information:

A service to honor Mary Selz’s life will be held on January 13, 2023, at 11:00 AM at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church, 20444 Magnolia, Huntington Beach, CA 92646. A reception will follow at 12:30 PM at Mile Square Country Club, 10401 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 92708.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to Thomas House Family Shelter in Mary’s memory.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mary’s family, friends, and all those in our community who were touched by her extraordinary life. In this moment of loss, we find comfort in knowing that Mary’s spirit will forever guide us as we continue to strive towards the world that both she and Bernie envisioned.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mary’s family, friends, and all those in our community who were touched by her extraordinary life. In this moment of loss, we find solace in knowing that Mary’s spirit and vision will continue to guide us as we strive towards the world that she and Bernie envisioned – a world where every family has the opportunity to thrive in a safe and supportive community.

For more information, please visit or call (714) 554-0357.

About Thomas House Family Shelter:

Founded in 1986 by Mary and Bernie Selz, Thomas House Family Shelter provides safe shelter and supportive services for families with children, empowering them towards independent and self-sufficient lives. For over 37 years, Thomas House Family Shelter has served the community by providing a safe, supportive environment & the resources necessary for unhoused and at-risk families with children to remain together while empowering them to become independent and self-sufficient. With a success rate of 90%, Thomas House Family Shelter continues to make its impact by working with over 100 local community partners and over 400 dedicated volunteers annually.

Kyler Hannah
Thomas House Family Shelter
[email protected]
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