Arlington resource center fills many needs

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Community Resource Center is on track to serve more than 1,000 visitors by the end of the year.

Anyone in the Arlington and Smokey Point area who needs help connecting to social services for housing, food, transportation or health care can go to the center, which serves as a point of contact for other nonprofits, churches and government programs.

The center has been officially open for nearly four months and was part of ongoing Oso mudslide recovery efforts long before opening day. A belated celebration and ribbon cutting was held earlier this week.

It’s the sixth resource center run by Lutheran Community Services Northwest in Snohomish County and was created with help from nearly 50 service organizations and volunteers over the past few years.

“We’ve seen veterans come in, we’ve seen homeless youth, we’ve seen single moms,” said Kari Pendray, chair of the Arlington Community Resource Committee. “We’ve seen a lot and we’re going to see more.”

Since the doors opened June 8, center staff have met with roughly 80 visitors a month, usually about 30 of them new and 50 returning, according to Crisann Brooks, family support director for Lutheran Community Services.

Within 30 days of opening, staff helped 54 adults looking for work or housing. Most of their visitors so far, especially those in need of a place to stay, have been single mothers with children younger than 12 or seniors on fixed incomes. The center also has helped at least 15 young adults between the ages of 17 and 21, who were homeless and looking for work, by assisting them with resumes and applications.

The resource center shares space with the Stillaguamish Senior Center at 18308 Smokey Point Blvd. There are tentative plans to later move in with the Arlington Boys &Girls Club, which received state funding earlier this year to help double the size of their building.

The current resource center is small but welcoming with toys for children and wooden signs hung above big windows, each carved with an encouraging message: Stay strong. Life is about how you handle plan B. We are stronger together.

“Everywhere I look in the community, there’s someone who touched this,” Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said.

A local resource center was in the works before the Oso mudslide in 2014 killed 43 people in a tight-knit community between Arlington and Darrington. The center unofficially opened in January to focus specifically on needs related to that disaster, such as grief counseling and support groups.

The actual opening in June marked a shift to more general services, helping connect anyone who came in to government, faith-based or nonprofit programs that suit their needs.

“The resources and the assets were always here but we hadn’t found a way to put them together,” Tolbert said. “Through that process we learned how difficult it can be for people to navigate a complicated system.”

Moving forward, staff and volunteers want to gather ideas from people who live and work in Arlington on how the center could be most helpful to them. They’ve already received suggestions to highlight services for seniors, teenagers and veterans and to host classes and support groups for parents.

The resource center is having a public listening session at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 in the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, 18513 59th Ave. NE. Everyone is invited to talk about what services they feel are most critical.

“We know there’s a variety of needs in the Arlington area and we invite you all to share your ideas,” Pendray said. “This is your center and you have the opportunity to use your voice and create this place.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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