Sandy Biggs unloads cleaning supplies from the back of his truck that he donated to the YWCA Pathways for Women shelter in Lynnwood on Nov. 23. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Business owner coordinates cleaning supplies, other donations for women’s shelter

LYNNWOOD — Sandy Biggs drives by the shelter every day on his way to work.

For years, he thought about stopping in and asking how he could help.

In November, he finally walked into the front office of the Pathways for Women shelter in Lynnwood. It’s run by the YWCA and is a few blocks from NorWest Kitchen and Remodel, the company Biggs owns.

The shelter has 13 emergency stay rooms and five permanent apartments. Most of the people there are moms with children, though single women without children also are welcome, spokeswoman Vicki Von Stubbe said. All of the units have been full recently. Women get support in finding stable housing after they leave the emergency shelter.

Biggs was introduced to Nora Karena, director of housing services. She told him she was heading out to buy $200 worth of cleaning supplies. The women at the shelter are expected to do chores, but most don’t have money for laundry detergent, mops, paper towels and more. Though it’s not built into the nonprofit’s budget, the organization generally ends up springing for the supplies.

Biggs told her not to worry about making that shopping trip.

He came back three days later with 13 baskets full of cleaning supplies.

He wasn’t done, though. Biggs has worked with Home Depot on a number of projects in the past, and he asked if they would consider helping. Biggs and the regional branch of Home Depot teamed up to provide a year’s worth of cleaning supplies. Biggs’ employees also donated dozens of nonperishable food items for women at the shelter.

“I think to really be part of the community, you need to help your community,” Biggs, 53, said.

He lives in Bothell and runs his business out of Lynnwood. He moved to the area in 1980.

He got the list of cleaning supplies the shelter needed and gave it to office manager Savannah Bartoli. She handled the shopping. For both, the gift was personal.

“We’re really passionate about this,” she said. “I’m a single mother and (Biggs) was raised by a single mother. We’ve been talking about helping the shelter for a couple of years.”

The donated food and cleaning supplies filled the bed of a pick-up truck and the back seat of an SUV. The day before Thanksgiving, Biggs and his team showed up to unload the supplies. There were jumbo containers of laundry detergent, rolls of paper towels, boxes of 150 garbage bags apiece, mops and cleaning solutions. Plastic bags were filled with cans and boxes of food.

The team from Home Depot had one more surprise for the shelter. Two managers presented a poster-sized check for $2,175. The photo-ready giant check translates into money toward any supplies the YWCA shelter needs from Home Depot. The check was made out to Pathways for Women.

A woman who lives at the shelter stopped by to thank the donors. She explained that she’d battled alcoholism. She sobered up 10 years ago. About two years ago, she turned to the YWCA when she had no safe place to call home. The program saved her life, she said.

The donors and shelter employees got emotional as they posed with the check for some photos.

“You guys have made my holiday,” said Brad Hardy, regional services manager for Home Depot.

“Well,” Von Stubbe said, “you guys have made our year.”

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

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