Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Amy’s Place Helps Whatcom’s Homeless Youth

The current economic situation in our country has prompted many people to tighten their purse strings, cutting out many of the little luxuries of life. But non-profit organizations don’t provide “luxuries” for the underprivileged in our community; they provide necessities for survival that many of us take for granted.

Amy's Place for Youth Kids of Amy’s Place for Youth with Congressman Rick Larsen.
Photo courtesy Heidi Unick

Amy’s Place for Youth, a not-for-profit organization that serves homeless youth in Whatcom County, is feeling the financial strain. Without an increase in donations from our community, Amy’s Place director Heidi Unick says that the organization will be forced to close before the holidays this year.

Amy’s Place opened in late 2006 as a drop-in center for street-involved youth. They’ve helped over a thousand different kids during the past four years.

“We’re open every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 PM,” Heidi said in a phone interview. “We offer kids a meal and there’s also a food pantry so they can take food with them. We have hygiene supplies, sleeping bags, clothes, and shoes for kids too.” The young visitors can also hear a presentation from various local agency representatives to learn about other support programs available in our community.

Their evening programs are segregated by age. The Friday night program is open for youth ages 18 to 24, while Saturday night is open for youth age 17 and under. On average, about 25 kids visit Amy’s Place during each session; about half are new to the program and half are returners. Of the 330 youths that have attended an Amy’s Place program this year, about 80 are in a homeless situation.

Amy's Place for Youth Wrapping presents during the holidays at Amy’s Place for Youth.
Photo courtesy Heidi Unick

“Many of the youth have left abusive home situations, but are often abused on the streets as well. Our volunteers provide mentorship for the kids, so they know that we care about what happens to them,” Heidi said.

Heidi went on to explain that many of these kids are afflicted with an illness or a chemical dependence, so it’s difficult for them to get a job or stay in school. For awhile, Amy’s Place offered a Tuesday program that provided educational support, but a lack of funding and volunteers forced them to discontinue the resource.

“Securing consistent funding for Amy’s Place has been a great challenge,” said Heidi. “We are grateful for tangible donations from organizations like St. Luke’s Foundation, which donated shelving, furniture, floor coverings, and more, but if we don’t have the money for next month’s rent, we cannot continue this program.”

The community is invited to learn more about supporting Amy’s Place at an Open House on Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 PM. Visitors can take a tour, listen to a presentation about Amy’s Place, and meet the volunteers and youth of Amy’s Place. The fun and informative event will also include a Dessert Auction.

To learn more about supporting Amy’s Place with your money or time, please visit their website or call (360) 671-5567 or (360) 920-0615.

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Happy Harvest and Healthy Kids!

Girl with carrots. Photo courtesy Bellingham Farmers Market

Autumn has arrived in Whatcom County. Kids are getting back into the routine of school and parents are wondering how they’ll keep the family occupied during the months of cold and rain ahead.

But before the weather gets too tumultuous, you’re invited to celebrate the start of harvest season with local organizations and farms! Check out a few great, family-friendly events that will educate your kids about the abundant harvest that they can enjoy in our county.

Whatcom County Farm Tour
September 11, 2010

Sustainable Connections invites you to visit 11 local farms to learn about agricultural practices in Whatcom County. From Twisted S Ranch bison to Bellingham Country Gardens U-Pick vegetables, it’s amazing to see all that our community offers. You can even ride your bike from farm to farm! Download the Farm Tour Map to find your way to the farms.

Whatcom Harvest DinnerSeptember 26, 2010

Whatcom Harvest Dinner Photo courtesy Whatcom Harvest Dinner

Celebrate the abundant harvest season, the talented farmers and food artisans, and our amazing community at the Whatcom Harvest Dinner at Boxx Berry Farm. The Whatcom Harvest Dinner is a collaborative effort of local food, farming, and sustainability focused nonprofit organizations that are passionate about good food, community, and sustainable living in our beautiful home. Tickets are $45, available at Brown Paper Tickets.

Cloud Mountain Fruit FestivalOctober 2 & 3, 2010

You and your kids can sample over 200 varieties of fruit at Cloud Mountain Farm in Everson during their annual fall festival. Open on Saturday, October 2, from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, October 3, from 11 AM to 4 PM, you can try all kinds of fruits that can grow in Northwest Washington while listening to live music by Giant’s Causeway and Polecat. There are activities for kids too! Admission is $2.50 to support Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation.

How does your family celebrate the harvest season in Bellingham and Whatcom County? Leave a comment below!

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Precautions While Camping and Hiking

As summer draws to a close, you might be thinking of making one final camping trip this season or taking the family on a hike through the woods. While the Great Outdoors is a fun place for kids to learn and explore, families should take serious precautions to prevent the development of Lyme disease, an inflammatory disease spread through a tick bite.

Family Tent Camping Season Tick bites can be prevalent in the summer while camping or hiking.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. The incubation period before symptoms can been seen can be as short as a few days and as long as several years. Not all symptoms of Lyme disease are universal either, and it can be misdiagnosed as other autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.

While prevalent in the summer when people are often outdoors, tick bites can occur throughout the year and throughout the Northern Hemisphere. You’re not just at risk when walking through the forest either; ticks thrive wherever there is grass or vegetation.

To protect yourself and your kids, you should wear hats and long sleeves, and tuck your pants into your socks while traversing possible tick-infested areas. Don’t forget to do a post-hike body check for ticks as well, especially if you bring the family dog on the hike too.

A story about the effects of Lyme disease that will resonant with Bellingham and Whatcom County families is that of the Loreen Family, a local family that is struggling with Lyme disease. Jackie Loreen and her four sons have all been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and her husband Mark is the primary provider and caregiver for the family.

Friends of the Loreen family are organizing a fundraiser, Crush the Lyme Family Fun Run, to help with medical expenses. All are welcome to participate.

If you find a tick on your child, review this Tick Bites Instruction Sheet by with information about removing the tick and prevention tips, and consult your family physician.

To learn more about Lyme disease, visit the International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society.

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