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Snohomish's cold weather shelter can use your help

SNOHOMISH — The cold weather shelter is ready to accept clients on Nov. 1, but more volunteers are needed and cash donations are welcome.
The shelter is run by Snohomish Evangelical Free Church at 210 Ave. B, as part of a network that includes a host of churches, government services and nonprofits.
“I think it feels like a genuine partnership in trying to solve a problem,” said the church’s pastor, Jeff Sickles. “We always need volunteers because many hands make light work and I know it’s a cliche but it’s really true.”
Last year, they had as many as approximately 20 clients in a night, and they have approximately 30 volunteers signed up for this year. The shelter keeps a seven-day schedule beginning Nov. 1, with open-hours every time the weather report predicts 34 degrees or lower.
“It’s truly a cold weather shelter. Not a sleeping shelter,” Sickles said.  
Clients enter through a welcome room and are briefed on the rules. They check any weapons and agree to avoid using any mood-altering substances while there. Doors lock at 10 p.m. and visitors are in until morning. If they leave, they cannot come back.
The rules are that “if they get loud if they get violent if they are not following the directions of the volunteers,” they are ejected from the shelter. The rules help keep the volunteers and other clients safe and comfortable.
“We really prefer people not come inebriated, but if they can manage it, we’re not going to turn them away,” Sickles said. “Our real standard is: ‘are you going to behave in a way that is safe for volunteers and clients; are you going to behave in a way that lets other people sleep?’”
The respite space is open to people who have no home, or live in a home that is too cold to sleep in. Sickles said if people have somewhere to live, but no heat, they are welcome to stay during shelter hours. For people who live in a vehicle, the rules are the same: they can park in the parking lot and sleep, but are required to leave once the morning closure occurs at about 6 or 7 a.m.
The shelter’s season is from Nov. 1 to the end of February. The season extended last year due to a cold snap that led to an unexpected, late-season snowstorm.
The church has a private room for a family room, to keep the family together, as well as a common room with 13 cots. They have a need for more volunteers and cash donations help as well, Sickles said. This year, the church has a new room with a shower.
“We had a few folks who were getting ready to go off to job interviews, and it helps if they can clean up,” he said.
A steering committee oversees the shelter and all members are faith-based. Core members include St. Michael Catholic Church, St. John’s Episcopalian, Snohomish Presbyterian, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Zion Lutheran, he said. Sickles called it a faith-based endeavor that is community-wide.
He said over the years the homeless community in the city has changed, in that they do not stay in Snohomish. In previous years, they were the same people, living in this town, and now they transition from one town to the next, he said.

To donate
To donate money, send checks to the Snohomish Free Evangelical church, 210 Ave. B, Snohomish, WA 98290 and earmark the funds for the shelter.



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