By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
The city of Lynnwood’s former Washington State Motor Vehicle Emission Inspection Station has temporarily transformed into a hygiene facility, providing access to showers and restrooms to the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The need was huge in response to COVID-19…we’ve been critical to people’s hygiene needs without a doubt,” said Jason Dunbar, Service Coordinator of the Jean Kim Foundation. “All of a sudden every business closes down and there’s no place use the restroom or shower.”
In early April, the Jean Kim Foundation, a nonprofit working to disrupt the cycle of homelessness through education, announced a collective effort with the City of Lynnwood, the Verdant Health Commission, and multiple other Lynnwood agencies to provide restroom and shower services to individuals experiencing homelessness. The hygiene center is also providing clients with clothing, toiletries, and sack lunches. Since opening, they have added dual hot water tanks, as well as a commercial washer and dryer to expand service capacity.
“It is a wonderful partnership,” commented Lynnwood Council President and Jean Kim Foundation Board Member and volunteer Christine Frizzell.
Amberlee Bell, the Jean Kim Foundation’s hygiene center Volunteer Intern, says that the new service station is a huge relief to her and others experiencing homelessness in Lynnwood. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, public access to businesses and in-person weekly accessible hygiene service stations hosted at churches and other organizations were suspended. Bell notes that one of her top concerns at the beginning of the pandemic was potentially not having access to a restroom or shower.
“It was a huge impact because there was nowhere to shower. To have this available, it’s a huge blessing,” said Bell. “It’s an even bigger blessing to be a part of it.”
The service has been immensely popular, with the hygiene center accommodating 15 and 40 showers a day with 40 to 50 regular clients, according to Dunbar and Bell.
“The people who come here are just so thankful to shower and be able to feel clean and prosperous for their day,” remarked Bell.
The hygiene center services are available to individuals seven days a week at 19726 64th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036. The restrooms are accessible from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and showers are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more about the Jean Kim Foundation, visit http://www.jeankimfoundation.org/index.html.