Lynnwood-based Neighbors in Need offers showers, laundry services and more


    It started with a pot of coffee and a plate of pastries during a few cold days. A decade later, the Neighbors in Need program has grown to offer the homeless and low-income of South Snohomish County a hot meal and basic support services.

    Every Saturday, from 8:30-10:30 a.m., Neighbors in Need opens the doors of Lynnwood’s Trinity Lutheran Church to those who are homeless or with limited means and welcomes them with breakfast, a small bag of groceries provided by the Edmonds and Lynnwood food banks, donated clothing, resources to seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction and more.

    Lynnwood City Council Vice-President Christine Frizzell describes the program as a Band-Aid for those in need. The program is also a great start for those looking to volunteer with the homeless community, she said.

    “The idea for Trinity is to be a place where homeless and low-income people can come and get services to get them through weekend,” she said.

    The Neighbors in Need program is not strictly for people who are homeless. People who have homes, but not much else are still welcome, said Jason Dunbar, a board member of the Jean Kim Foundation.

    “It’s mostly a combination of housing-unstable people or previously homeless who come for things like the food bank,” he said.

    The volunteer-driven program partners with nine other churches and organizations. These include the Jean Kim Foundation, which promotes education access for homeless individuals; the Hand Up Project, which helps those who struggle with substance abuse get into rehab; Lifelong, a Seattle-based organization that will offer free HIV testing once a month; and Shower for the People, a mobile trailer equipped with two showers.

    For more than a decade, Frank Fargo, founder of Shower for the People, has provided the homeless community in Snohomish County with a place to take a hot shower. Shower for the People also supplies people with travel-size toiletries, socks, underwear and T-shirts.

    Shower for the People began in June 2007 when Fargo and his wife Louise partnered with their church, Cascade View Presbyterian, where they were already active volunteers. Fargo said he was inspired after reading Mike Yankoski’s book Under the Overpass, a story about a homeless college student who, at one point, had not showered in six weeks.  

    “He had no hot water, so it inspired me to put out a survey during meals and see if anyone would be interested in it,” he said.

    The five-wheel trailer is the second the organization has used since Shower for the People began, and includes tankless water heaters for both showers and a redundant system for backup that Fargo installed himself. Though the organization has been a success and provided showers for thousands of people, Fargo said there was some initial concern about the safety of the project.

    “The police did not really want us to do it; they thought I was going to get into trouble,” he said. “But a couple of them off to the side said, ‘Just do it.’”

    Now, Showers for the People is a fixture at Trinity on Saturdays, providing showers for 30-40 homeless individuals every Saturday. Showers are also offered at Dinner at the Bell hosted by First Presbyterian Church in downtown Everett on Wednesdays. Anyone wishing to donate may bring travel-size toiletries on Saturdays to Trinity Lutheran Church, located at 6215 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood.

    In addition to offering showers, WASHED provides laundry service for the homeless in Snohomish County. Created by The HOUSE Church Pastor D.J. Rabe and his friend Eric Hogan, WASHED is a self-sufficient mobile laundry-service unit equipped with two washers and two dryers.

    Neighbors in Need has also begun offering a “listening table” to provide social interactions that people who are homeless are often denied, said Neighbors in Need board member Paula Brooks. People who come to the listening table often need people to hear their concerns, stories and goals — or simply find someone to touch them respectfully, she said.

    “They get totally ignored, because we don’t want to see them,” Brooks said. “They’re people who need somebody to hear them.”

    One of the hardest stories she heard was a young man that Brooks said wanted to pray and thank God that he was able to make money selling drugs so he no longer had to prostitute his wife.

    “It’s being there for some individuals who just have no other human being to be with,” she said.

    Joan Jolly, a Neighbors in Need board member who has been with the organization for eight years, said the program owes a lot of its success to its location at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood. At Trinity, Neighbors in Need was conveniently placed for other organizations to reach out and help, she said.

    “It’s was totally organic, it just grew all by itself,” she said.

    Though the Neighbors in Need program has come a long way, Jolly said the program’s goal is to continue to grow by seeking other community partners that want to assist those in the community who are homeless or low-income.

    “The more we know about each other, the more resources we have to offer,” she said.

    Anyone who wishes to donate to Neighbors in Need or volunteer may do so by visiting their website here and clicking the “Saturday Morning” drop box across the top of the page.

    –Story and photos by Cody Sexton

    19 Replies to “Lynnwood-based Neighbors in Need offers showers, laundry services and more”

    1. I have been a volunteer at Neighbors In Need for 8 years. I am honored to be with such a program that does such great work. I ‘have met wonderful people who use our services. There are many success stories. Our country is great because of community involvement like this program.


    2. I’m so glad that Lynnwood, and Snohomish County have been doing this for several years. I worked for a chunk of time in my life with homeless people in larger cities, like Seattle, Minneapolis, Tacoma, and Yakima. It really makes my heart sing when groups of people come together to offer help for those suffering from homelessness. There needs to be more of this ind of thng in every city and town to help all of us.


    3. “One of the hardest stories she heard was a young man that Brooks said wanted to pray and thank God that he was able to make money selling drugs so he no longer had to prostitute his wife.”

      Just out of curiosity, does this strike anyone else besides me as strange?
      What about getting a job and paying for the things you need yourself?
      I don’t have any problem with neighbors helping neighbors, and much prefer that to government involvement, but we are talking about illegal and immoral activity here.
      I wonder how this young man’s wife feels about being sold to strange men in order to supply him with his drugs.
      Was that a choice that she made, without any force or coercion?
      Maybe I just don’t understand the modern world that is coming to Edmonds. I certainly don’t agree with it.


    4. Hi Dave- I understood that portion of this article to mean that this man makes an effort to lend an ear to people. When we do that, without judgement, we help.


    5. Hello Cody Sexton-
      I am curious as to why you felt to put that particular man’s words about prostituting his wife as the example of what happens at the, “listening table” please?


      1. I asked Cody about this and here is his reply: “I included it because it was a jarring reminder of the struggles some people face when they have very few options. It was also the only example given when I asked what kind of things the woman at the listening table heard. She led with that and I thought it would be intrusive and unnecessary to ask for more stories after hearing that. It was a drastic example, but I think it was an appropriate reminder of just how bad a lot of people around here have it sometimes. I will agree that it is a very “stand out” part of the story. I almost didn’t include it because it sort of spikes in the story’s flow. But like I said I didn’t have any other examples and I felt one was necessary.”


        1. “I almost didn’t include it because it sort of spikes in the story’s flow.”

          When I read this the first thing that popped into my mind was “I wonder what else got left out of the story?”
          Any facts that didn’t fit the writers intent?
          It would be nice to get the whole story, and then I will make up my own mind what is relevant and important.


          1. Dave — any writers who work for me are working to tell a story based on the situation they encounter — that is their intent. I believe that Cody did a very nice job of describing what he learned. “The whole story” is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps you could go to Trinity Lutheran and volunteer sometime, and that might help you get the story first hand. — Teresa


      1. And I am looking for a 1 bed room apartment that will accept a housing voucher, $ 1,250 and a $1,000 deposit, Edmonds, Lynnwood, single male who performs at the Edmonds farmers market.


    6. In answer to Mr. Cooper’s comment, this answer doesn’t strike me as strange at all. Addiction is generally recognized as an illness that can’t just be willed away. A few people are able to go “cold turkey” on various addictions but the vast majority aren’t. If you are addicted to something (anything; alcohol, opiates, meth, even food in many cases) you will do anything to get it. I’m curious to know why you don’t equate police and court intervention to identify and punish these “illegal and immoral activities” as “government intervention.” The last time I checked the police, courts and jails were funded by public money, i.e. government. We’ve been doing the ‘cops and criminals” thing with drugs for decades and the situation only seems to get worse. As long as there is vast profit in so called “illegal” substances, the problem will go on no matter what we do. A large part of the opiate addiction problem in America was originated by legal drug manufacturers producing and promoting too much of a good thing. Then you have well meaning dentists prescribing 15 Percodin tabs for a root canal and wonder why people get hooked on drugs. With both the black market and the white market pushing drugs at us, God help us, is all I can say. The “weak” among us, don’t have a chance under the current circumstances.


      1. I think you missed the whole point of my post. Here is the relevant part again.

        “I wonder how this young man’s wife feels about being sold to strange men in order to supply him with his drugs.
        Was that a choice that she made, without any force or coercion?”

        I personally have no problem with anyone choosing to addict themselves to drugs, and ditto with choosing to prostitute yourself for money.
        It is your life and you have every right to choose any path you want to take, as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights.
        Forcing someone into sexual slavery for money infringes on their rights, and asking me to pay for your drug habit infringes on my rights. I would rather use my money for the difficult world we are leaving to our kids and grandkids.
        Anyone else can use their money for anything they want.


    7. Dave, I totally get your point. You are quite okay with spending your tax money on law enforcement and incarceration of criminal drug addicts and sex exploitators and their victims , but not on rehabilitation or drug maintainence programs for such low lifes. That approach sure works good so far. Let’s be sure to stick with it another 50 years. I’m sure it will start working soon.


    8. You missed my point again. Again. Again.
      I don’t want to spend any taxpayer money on law enforcement or incareration of drug users or alternative lifestyle choices.
      I want to legalize drugs and let people decide if they want to become drug users or not.
      I don’t want to tell you how to spend your money.
      If you want to give your money to homeless drug addicts that is fine with me.
      I just don’t want to give my money to homeless drug addicts. I think there are many more bigger and more important problems facing our kids and grandkids than trying to stop someone from using drugs.
      I urge you to give your money to homeless drug addicts until that problem is solved. I am sure that is just around the corner.


    9. In that case , I did totally miss your point and I sincerely apologize for that and point well taken. I also agree with you on drug legalization and I would add decriminalizing prostitution. However, I would respectfully point out that you and I are already paying for housing of the drug addicted homeless. It’s called jail and prison. That’s where these people eventually end up because they commit real crimes against us to support their addictions. Jail or temporary housing, medical treatment and rehab.? Yes, I think my approach would serve society better. You disagree. Fair enough. No hard feelings from me on this discussion for sure.


    10. “It’s called jail and prison. That’s where these people eventually end up because they commit real crimes against us to support their addictions.”

      I would say that if currently illegal drugs were to be made legal, say with a doctor’s prescription, the cost to use them would so low that no one would have to commit a crime in order to be able to buy them. Plus we would not being throwing people in prison for simply using them.
      In addition it would remove a huge amount of cash money being funneled to organized crime.
      I submit that this is a far better solution. I think the vast majority of citizens would not want to use heroin or other dangerous drugs even if they could get them with a doctor’s note.


    11. I agree with you, Dave, that your approach would be far better and more humane than what we are doing now with the addicted among us. There would have to be some severe penalties and the threat of incarceration for adults supplying minors with addictive substances or using drugs to facilitate child sexual abuse or sexual abuse in general. I don’t think any system will be totally perfect and tax eliminating for the vast majority of us who are not addiction prone and have family support systems available to us. Getting organized drug crime stopped and addicts off the streets and out of living in tents and cars would be a great leap forward for sure. I don’t mean my comments to disparage homeless people who are in that predicament due to economic or health misfortune of some sort that has no relation to willful drug abuse. There is no excuse for Society not helping these folks except pure greed, in my opinion. I’m done engaging on this for now because I’m starting to bore myself and I’m sure fellow contributors have had it with me. Be kind to each other.


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