Lynnwood gives church cold weather shelter two-year permit

The doors at Maple Park Church open when temperatures are expected to dip below 34 degrees at night.

LYNNWOOD — The city approved a two-year permit Wednesday for an extreme weather shelter at Maple Park Church in Lynnwood.

We All Belong is a volunteer group that’s been providing cold weather shelters in the Edmonds and Lynnwood areas for 13 years, organizer Mark Waldin said.

The shelter, which opens Dec. 8, is available to those who need it on days when temperatures are expected to drop below 34 degrees for four hours between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“The idea is to get people out of the streets during freezing weather,” Lynnwood city spokeswoman Julie Moore said.

The shelter usually opens earlier in the year, but changes in how the group operates have delayed the start. Waldin said there are usually two or three cold nights between now and the opening date.

The group uses a van to pick up people at Lynnwood City Hall, and at both the Trader Joe’s and Value Village on Highway 99. The shelter is at 17620 60th Ave. W.

Guests are given a warm dinner, a place to sleep and breakfast in the morning.

Waldin said they usually open 25 to 30 times a year. The number of people served usually grows from about 10 a day in the early winter to nearly two dozen in later months.

“We have it pretty well greased, but we can always use more volunteers,” Waldin said.

One night last year, 53 people stayed in the church.

Waldin said the shelter is open to all, but no drugs or alcohol are allowed inside and guests are expected to behave.

Volunteers set up classrooms in the church so families can stay together. To get the word out about the shelter opening, organizers reach out to local fire and police departments, hospitals, libraries and city halls.

Those interested in volunteering can sign up at We All Belong’s website.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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