North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Shelter helps homeless celebrate Thanksgiving


Kirk Boxleitner

Ed Hauff, left, comes in out of the rain to enjoy some pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving fixings with Marysville cold weather shelter director Zoe Wlazlak.

Brandon Leslie has gone from working with concrete to sleeping on it.

Leslie, his girlfriend Danielle Lacey, and his friend Ed Hauff are among Marysville's homeless, and if not for the cold weather shelter at the Damascus Road Church on State Avenue they would have spent their Thanksgiving out in the rain, sleeping on the streets, or worse.

"This lets us get out of the wet," said Lacey, a nursing assistant who, along with Leslie, has been mostly unemployed for the past two years. "There are nights when we have nowhere to go, so we literally can't stop walking, no matter how tired we get. I've wanted to call the cops on myself, just so I could spend the night in jail."

Without permanent addresses, applying for jobs has been challenging for the couple. And Leslie can't even pursue his former career in construction, thanks to three neck surgeries in four years that have fused five of his vertebrae in a titanium cage.

"I'm 40 years old, and I'm a liability to any company who would be willing to hire me," Leslie said.

They joined Hauff in praising the cooking of Marysville Community Food Bank volunteer Amy Howell, who was joined by cold weather shelter director Zoe Wlazlak in staffing the shelter from the evening of Thursday, Nov. 24, through the morning of Friday, Nov. 25.

"You make the best green bean casserole," Lacey said.

"This has all been delicious," Leslie said. "Then again, just about the only thing I don't like is lima beans."

While lima beans were not on the menu, those who checked into the shelter received generous helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, plus yams, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fruit salad and even deviled eggs.

"We first opened the shelter for the holidays last year, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day," said Wlazlak, who posted plans to open the shelter for this Thanksgiving on its Facebook page Monday, Nov. 21. "We'd like to do that again this year, but while Christmas Eve should be no problem, Christmas Day might be a challenge, in terms of getting enough volunteers."

"You've got one volunteer right here," said Hauff, who's also volunteered at the Living Room Coffee House at both of its locations in Marysville.

Hauff credited his volunteer work at the coffee house and other community service organizations with keeping him clean and sober since this spring, breaking a 25-year streak of drug abuse.

"You have to be joyful," Hauff said.

Leslie agreed with his friend, even as he acknowledged the difficulties of maintaining a positive attitude and the drive to keep going.

"The place you don't want to look is often the best place to find the help that you need," said Leslie, who is hoping for benefits from the Housing and Essential Needs Program, through the state Department of Social and Health Services, by next month. "Going on disability felt like giving in, but sometimes, you've got to suck it up and ask for help. You can't give up, because if you do, then none of it will have been worth anything."

For more information, contact Wlazlak at 530-913-0995 or, or visit the Marysville cold weather shelter's pages online at or


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