Arlington’s emergency cold weather shelter is open for the season while Marysville’s will most likely be closed for this season.
The Arlington program is run by local volunteers and churches.
They are open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. on nights where the temperature is forecasted to drop below 32 degrees.
A light supper and breakfast are provided, as well as a bed, for individuals that come for the night.
The goal is to provide shelter for homeless individuals when the night has freezing temperatures.
“We do this because nobody else is running something like this, and there is no shelter for homeless people in Arlington,” said Deena Jones, a pastor at Arlington United Church and one of the main organizers of the program.
“Our main goal is to prevent people from dying, so we’re trying to provide them a safe place for the night,” she said.
It’s been a slow, warm winter so far as there have only been 15 nights the shelter has been open, said Jones.
“We are seeing more people in general this year as well,” she said.
“We got close to our capacity during one of the nights we were open,” she said, with 23 guests stopping by for the night when they have a maximum of 24 beds.
“That is the first year that has happened,” said Jones.
Jones is not sure why more people are coming to the shelter this year than previous year’s averages.
“It could be that the word has gotten out more, or that we’ve earned the trust of the local homeless population or they could be coming up from Marysville whose shelter has been closed this year,” said Jones.
There’s also been a lack of volunteers this year, she said. Those interested in volunteering can call Jones at Arlington United Church at 360-435-3259.
Volunteers serve four hour shifts.
“Just being present is the main part, and we have at least two people on for every shift,” said Jones.
Other tasks include setting up beds, taking beds down in the morning, laundry and preparing meals.
“You must be willing to submit to a background check as well,” said Jones.
Arlington’s cold weather shelter rotates between four churches and is running on the same schedule as last year.
Locals can call 360-403-4674 to find out if the shelter is open and where it is that night.
The shelter this year is rotating between Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Jake’s House, Smokey Point Community Church and Arlington United Church.
“We really wish we had one location, but so far nothing has become available,” said Jones.
The Marysville Emergency Cold Weather Shelter has not opened this year because of violations of the local fire code.
“It is not in operation at the moment,” and will likely not be open for the rest of the season, said Zoe Wlazlak, director of the Marysville shelter.
The shelter is usually hosted by the Damascus Road Church, however the location would need to install fire sprinklers to meet code, which it was not able to do.
Marysville fire officials have provided some options that allow for re-opening the shelter next year if volunteers are properly trained.
“A fair number of us have started the CPR training,” said Wlazlak, however next year’s shelter “largely depends on whether we end up with a building or not,” she said.
If the program secures a suitable location they will likely be able to open again next year, she said.