Woman on personal mission to help Arlington homeless

ARLINGTON – In recent years, Jodi Lawrence has suffered through her own family tragedies and health issues.

But just before Christmas, she was still doing for others. With the help of some friends, she fed a hot meal to about 30 of Arlington’s homeless.

Three of the homeless said it can be hard to find help in Arlington.

“Once in a while you can find dinner,” said Randy, who was there with his wife Mary.

Alex, who was sitting nearby, added, “People who care try to make a difference.”

Randy said the apple pie, ham and stuffing were all “excellent.”

Ernie added he was enjoying, “all of it.”

Lawrence started helping the homeless a few years ago in Alaska. After moving to Arlington she found out homeless could not get a hot meal anywhere so she decided, “This year we would not go through that.”

For Thanksgiving she couldn’t find a place to host a dinner, so she made “to go boxes.” For Christmas, she was determined to find a place to have a “sit down dinner where we could visit and get warm.” Mission Motors provided the spot.

Lawrence said she would like to get the community more involved “down the road.”

“There’s not” a lot here for the homeless, she said, adding her longtime goal is to have a place downtown for the homeless to get a shower and meal. “That would be the greatest blessing,” she said.

Lawrence said she receives so much by helping others.

“The more we give the more bountiful we get back,” she said. “Always try to help people, even when you’re down to your last dime.”

Lawrence said the homeless are appreciative. “There’s good in everybody. Have compassion,” she said. “They just want to be treated with dignity.”

Lawrence said she has gotten to know many of the local homeless while working at ECO gas in Arlington. She’s been known to hand out homemade soup to get “something warm in their stomach.”

“They’re not all on drugs or alcohol,” she said of the homeless. “Some just don’t have the resources to afford an apartment anymore.”

Alex, who rode a bike in the snow to get to the dinner, said he lives out of town in a trailer with no power or water. He said Arlington isn’t very “homeless friendly.” “No, not at all,” he said.

Alex, who has been homeless for seven years, said Everett is better. “If you go hungry in Everett you’re not very bright,” he said.

He added in Arlington, “You can’t sit anywhere. They’ll run you off.”

Randy said he and Mary live in a camper, which also lacks water and power. He said he met Lawrence at the ECO store, and appreciates how she wants to help the homeless in the community.

Lawrence said she’s working to improve networking with the city and local churches to help the homeless. It’s even hard for them to find cold-weather shelter, as it’s two days a week in Arlington and two in Smokey Point.

“The problem’s not gonna go away,” Lawrence said.

Editor’s note: Anyone interested in helping Lawrence and her personal mission to help the homeless can call her at 360-332-8325.

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