MARYSVILLE – When the Salvation Army decided last year to no longer have officers in Marysville due to financial concerns, social services coordinator Jenny Roodzant wondered how the agency would cope.
It’s done quite well, thank you.
The nonprofit agency, which recently moved to 1108 State Ave., is more self-sufficient financially, thanks to the lower costs. And social service numbers are up 40 percent.
With no other paid help, Roodzant is working all the time, so she’d love some volunteer help, especially since Salvation Army will be hosting the city’s only Cold-Weather Shelter this winter. She could also use help with bell ringers at Christmas, since they have to be paid if there aren’t enough volunteers.
Roodzant has faith the community will come through. “I want this to be the hub of social services in Marysville,” she said, adding there are so many groups helping others, but no central agency organizing it all.
She’s so optimistic she wonders about the five-year lease they just signed.
“I’m gonna blow these walls down,” she said of her anticipated growth.
She wants to partner with other groups, such as with the Marysville Food Bank at Christmas. “We’re not in competition,” she said.
Roodzant said even though there are no longer Sunday services without the officers who served as pastors, there is still a Christian presence.
“God put us here,” she said of the new central location in town. She said there are devotionals and prayers, and on Sundays when there are testimonials, “You could hear a pin drop.”
The agency is funded solely by donations and local churches provide a steady steam of support. Roodzant admits some clients can be a challenge. She’s been spit on before.
She credits God with helping her through it.
“I know I’m not the enemy,” she said.
Despite the challenges, “I honestly love these people,” she said. Roodzant runs a tight ship. She’s kicked problem folks out before.
“They can’t disrespect,” she said. “They have to appreciate what they have here. They have to want it and do the work.”
Roodzant teaches a number of basic life classes, such as employment, emotional regulation and budgeting. Home Street Bank provides $100 and teaches them how to watch it grow.
She said many of her clients stopped believing in themselves.
“They’ve been through some kind of trauma and think, ‘I’m not good enough,’” she said. She added that they have a lot of anxiety about the past, so she tells them to focus on the here and now because that’s the only thing they can control.
As their case manager, getting people off the streets is like putting a puzzle together.
Roodzant works almost daily with the embedded social worker team of Rochelle Long and officer Mike Buell. Because they represent police, sometimes the homeless are more comfortable with her, Roodzant said.
“They trust me,” she said, adding what matters is they get into treatment.
Folks also can learn work skills there through the DSHS Workforce intern program.
One client, John Carlson, came there after losing his wife, house and business. He said in a video that Roodzant asked him, “What would your wife want for you?” He said she wouldn’t want him to live in deep depression the rest of his life. So he’s used that to turn his life around.
Despite a thriving economy around us, Roodzant has a theory about why her numbers are up.
“There’s no middle class any more,” she said. “You either have it or not.”
She said she knows a single mom of three with a good-paying job who can’t get housing. She said Section 8 housing should just be a “stepping stone” but once people get on it they stay on it for life.
“Housing is at a standstill,” she said, adding that’s an issue she wants to delve into.
She said one element that is missing is showers. The YMCA no longer opens its doors for that, so she’s looking for other options, like a shower truck. She said she helped four people find jobs last month, but they couldn’t keep them because they had no place to shower.
Roodzant said many of the people she helps are not addicts, but have been through trauma.
“We’re going to walk through this together,” she tells them, “and help you back into society.”
By the numbers
1,468 – number of individuals helped
714 – meals provided
273 – basic needs (hygiene, clothes)
154 – case management
11 – emergency assistance (utilities, rent)
Breakfast: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Dinner: Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Sundays 3-4 p.m.; The Unitarian Church serves Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunches (Of 16 meals local churches provide for all but three). Clothing: Available Thursday breakfast.
Laundry: Available 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
Classes: Emotional regulation, Wednesdays, 6-7:30 p.m.; Community resourcing, and Resume and employment help, By appointment.
Holiday assistance: Adopt-A-Family; Toy and Joy; Holiday Meals; Red Kettle Campaign
Volunteers needed: Christmas distribution; Serving-preparing Community Meals; office help; Red Kettle Bell Ringing Campaign (Choose time, location at Volunteer.usawest.org or call Roodzant at 360-926-2228)
Send donations to: The Salvation Army, 1108 State Ave., Marysville, WA 98270.