Saint Joseph House board members Diana Manning (left) and Sara Roach talk about the Marysville clothing bank and Lenora Bruce, who founded it. Bruce experienced need as a single mother of six. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Saint Joseph House board members Diana Manning (left) and Sara Roach talk about the Marysville clothing bank and Lenora Bruce, who founded it. Bruce experienced need as a single mother of six. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Saint Joseph’s House has clothed people in need since 2006

Lenora Bruce, a single mother of six whose family was once helped, founded the Marysville nonprofit.

Autumn Blessings. That’s the theme of an upcoming auction and dinner to support Saint Joseph’s House, a clothing bank in Marysville. As temperatures drop and leaves start falling, needs increase in our community.

For some, the fall and coming winter bring challenges more than blessings.

Sara Roach, president of the Saint Joseph’s House board of directors, shared the clothing bank’s story Tuesday. She told of one client with a heart-wrenching request.

After the woman had picked out some items, Roach said she asked if there was anything else the mother needed.

“She asked, ‘Do you have any blankets?’ Her children were sleeping on the floor,” Roach said.

A window in Saint Joseph’s House was made with pieces of broken glass and placed over the existing window by the clothing bank’s founder, Lenora Bruce. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A window in Saint Joseph’s House was made with pieces of broken glass and placed over the existing window by the clothing bank’s founder, Lenora Bruce. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Launched in 2006, the nonprofit Saint Joseph’s House at 1925 Fourth St. provides free clothing and household items to some 4,000 low-income families or individuals annually. It’s supported by churches — among them St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Marysville, Holy Cross Catholic Church of Lake Stevens, and Arlington’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church — and by grants, clubs, businesses and countless donations.

Inside the house, rooms have become “shopping” areas, with racks of gently used clothing in sections for men, women and teens. There are boots, shoes and hats. Sleeping bags and hygiene kits are offered to people who are homeless. A whole room is set aside for children’s and infant clothing, plus books for kids.

Some garb is new, donated by retailers. The Knights of Columbus in Arlington and Haggen Food & Pharmacy held a new coat drive for kids, boosting the nonprofit’s supply, Roach said.

The Autumn Blessings fundraiser is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at St. Mary’s Hall, 4200 88th St. NE in Marysville. Cuisine for the dinner will be prepared by the Rev. Ramon Santa Cruz, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Arlington.

Saint Joseph’s House board member Sara Roach shows clothing available in the women’s clothing area. The Marysville nonprofit will be helped by a benefit auction Oct. 19. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Saint Joseph’s House board member Sara Roach shows clothing available in the women’s clothing area. The Marysville nonprofit will be helped by a benefit auction Oct. 19. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Lenora Bruce, the founder of Saint Joseph’s House, once found herself in a dire situation. In a video on the nonprofit’s website, Bruce tells how she was pregnant with her sixth child when she and her husband separated. Her oldest child was 10. “I was a single mom. I know what it’s like,” Bruce said in the video. “No children should be without in the United States.”

After her youngest child started school, Bruce worked at Boeing. Once helped by a clothing bank in Puyallup called Francis House, she decided Marysville needed one, too.

Now in her 70s, Bruce paid the first two months’ rent for Saint Joseph’s House, which started in a 700-square-foot cement-block building on Marysville’s Cedar Street. Since the start, she has been its director of operations. Nearly 40 volunteers keep the place going.

Outside Saint Joseph’s House on Tuesday, a young woman held a small child while waiting for the 10 a.m. opening with other clients. Inside, Roach and fellow board member Diana Manning explained how a client fills out a membership application. Members may come in monthly the first year, every other month the second year, and quarterly the third year — with more needs filled for parents of infants.

While handing out Saint Joseph’s House fliers recently, Manning was surprised at how few people had heard of the nonprofit. She learned about the clothing bank when her now-grown sons, Joe and Sam Skranak, volunteered there while attending Archbishop Murphy High School. Like Roach, Manning is a member of St. Mary’s parish in Marysville.

Guidelines call for those using Saint Joseph’s House to have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. With this region’s high cost of living, family circumstances are also considered. The 2019 federal poverty level for a family of four is $25,750; for an individual it’s $12,490.

“No one’s ever turned away,” Roach said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Saint Joseph’s House auction

Autumn Blessings, a dinner and auction to support Saint Joseph’s House community clothing bank, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at St. Mary’s Hall, 4200 88th St. NE, Marysville.

Saint Joseph’s House is at 1925 Fourth St., Marysville. It’s open 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. (Not open on any fifth Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday of the month.) Photo ID needed.

Get auction tickets, $35 or two for $60, or learn more at: www.saintjosephshouse.org/

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