Willow Place building life skills for developmentally disabled

MARYSVILLE — The air at Willow Place on Wednesday afternoons is thick with the sounds of African drums.

If only for a short while, they drown out all limitations for those who come to the three-hour activity program for people with developmental disabilities.

For some, the few ho

urs they spend here once or twice a week are the only time they venture outside the house. Activities are different every day, but the schedule is always the same. The first hour is exercise and wellness, the second hour is arts and crafts, then music or games. The cost is $10 for people who come with caregivers and $15 for those who come alone.

Willow Place is run by Quilceda Community Services, which was founded in 1976 to provide housing for adults with developmental disabilities. The program has grown from four clients to more than 50, and its home of three years became too small, said Karen Harper, who volunteers her time as board president.

She is a retired special education teacher — a profession she was inspired to choose largely because of her sister, Leslie Venables.

At 63, Venables is the oldest client at Willow Place. She likes to sew, and some of her whimsical artwork decorates the walls.

“I’ve always wanted her to have the same opportunities as I did,” Harper said.

All ages and abilities are welcome at Willow Place. Older teens transitioning out of special education are eligible as well.

The three-room building is tucked at the end of a parking lot off State Avenue. It’s cozy inside. Storage closets are bursting with exercise balls, art supplies and other equipment.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, activities manager Jacinda Guenthner explained how to turn wooden ice cream sticks into snowmen rulers, to measure how much snow fell outside.

“Everything they do here is fun, but it also helps develop different skills,” she said.

Struggling to give clients more personal time, Jacinda Guenthner started a volunteer program about two months ago. Her mother, Debbie Guenthner of Arlington, is one of the people who comes in once or twice a week to spend time with the clients.

She likes to help with arts and crafts, dancing and, as a self-described organizing fanatic, with inventorying supplies.

“These people are very caring. You get a lot of rewards from just being around them,” she said.

The organization is trying to scrape together enough money to buy a new, bigger building — a vacant church and private school near Fred Meyer. Harper met with Snohomish County officials hoping to get a $100,000 grant. “We are literally begging for money,” she said. If all goes well, Willow Place may move this summer.

Several programs serving the county’s adults with developmental disabilities have suffered cutbacks or closed altogether.

“We saw the real need and thought: We can do this,” Harper said.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

Get involved:

To volunteer, make a donation or bring a friend to Willow Place, call 360-653-2324. Willow Place is at 1402 State Ave., Marysville.

The sessions are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Care homes face gear shortage, ill staff and the unknown

More than 100 COVID-19 cases have been linked to long-term care facilities in Snohomish County.

Swedish nurses and caregivers voting virtually on new deal

New deal includes 13.5% raises over three years, $1,000 ratification bonus and benefits protections.

Employee at Amazon distribution center positive for COVID-19

Those who have been in close contact will be paid while they self-quarantine at their homes.

Monroe School District superintendent stepping down early

Fredrika Smith was supposed to serve until July. Her immediate resignation was announced Thursday.

Final farewells continue, but few are allowed to say goodbye

Rules for funerals limit attendees to immediate family. In Darrington, a memorial tradition is on hold.

Man found dead on Highway 529; possible hit and run

Everett detectives were investigating the scene Saturday. The man is believed to be from Marysville.

Man shot in neighborly dispute north of Lynnwood

The man was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A suspect was arrested.

Transit agencies around Puget Sound to receive over $500

The region will get about $538 million, to be distributed to Metro, Sound Transit and others.

Boeing extends temporary shutdown of Puget Sound plants

The company had planned to reopen on Wednesday. About 60 Everett employees have tested positive.

Most Read