Marjie’s Place

Sue Thorson, Tom Logothetti and Doris Lombard — Marjie Monnett’s siblings — stand in the courtyard of Marjie’s House, and emergency shelter and transitional housing built in Oak Harbor and named after their sister. - Nathan Whalen
Sue Thorson, Tom Logothetti and Doris Lombard — Marjie Monnett’s siblings — stand in the courtyard of Marjie’s House, and emergency shelter and transitional housing built in Oak Harbor and named after their sister.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen

As a new shelter gets set to open in Oak Harbor near the police station, family and friends took time Jan. 6 to remember its namesake.

Marjie’s House, a combination emergency shelter and transitional housing complex, is almost complete and will soon provide a new place to serve people in need.

Marjie’s House is named after Marjie Monnett, a family self-sufficiency coordinator for the Housing Authority of Island County. Monnett, along with her daughter, Holly, were shot and killed by Holly’s boyfriend in June 2002 in an incident of domestic violence incident that transpired in Freeland.

Of the dozens of people who attended the open house Jan. 6, numerous Monnett family members were on hand to see the result of work involved to make the shelter a reality.

“I’m very impressed with this and all the people that will be helped,” said Doris Lombard, Marjie’s sister who came up from California to attend the event.

Sue Thorson, another sister from California, expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s very moving to me ... to have this come out of her death is wonderful,” Thorson said.

Marjie’s sibling’s all appreciated the effort to build such a facility on the island in her name.

“There’s an irony to this. Her name wouldn’t have been connected to this problem. It reminds us that domestic violence exists,” said brother Tom Logothetti, who also came from California for the open house. “It takes a newsworthy tragedy to put her name on a thing like this.”

In addition to her siblings, several of Monnett’s children were also on hand for the ribbon cutting. City officials, county officials and numerous employees of various human services organizations were among the people attending the event that included a ribbon cutting, comments by Mayor Patty Cohen and Monnett’s family.

Marjie’s House will be operated through a partnership with the Housing Authority of Island County, The Opportunity Council and Citizens Against Domestic Abuse.

The facility is comprised of two buildings. One is a seven-unit emergency housing shelter while the other provides transitional housing. The units in each building can be reconfigured to accommodate varying family sizes.

The emergency housing will be operated by CADA and The Opportunity Council.

“Not only will we be able to give victims safe housing, but it will be homey,” said Margie Porter, director for CADA.

Families staying at the emergency shelter will also have access to advocates to help them through trying times.

The shelter also provides a secure facility for families. The entries have metal gates that can be accessed by an electric key. The facility has alarms and the complex, complete with a white picket fence, is well lit, said Steve Gulliford, director of the Housing Authority of Island County. He added that the shelter’s location near the Oak Harbor Police Department is also helpful.

In addition to the emergency shelter, residents can get help in the transitional housing unit where families can stay for up to two years. Marjie’s House provides eight units for families to live and establish a rental history.

“Some of the families that get rental assistance had trouble because they didn’t have a good rental history,” Gulliford said.

The transitional housing at Marjie’s House comes at a time when money for rental assistance has been reduced. Gulliford said the Housing Authority received enough money two years ago to provide assistance for 20 people. Now that number is down to 12.

It took approximately six months to build Marjie’s House. The $1.8 million facility was funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Washington Housing Trust Fund and donations including $50,000 from Island Thrift.

The Opportunity Council also received a 50,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to help fund construction of the shelter.

Even though folks enjoyed an open house Thursday, no families have yet to occupy the facility. Gulliford said there is some work that needs to be done appraising the property. Marjie’s House should be open early in February.

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