Christopher Brown gathered more than 30 volunteers Dec. 1 at the VFW Post 1585 on North State Street to clean up the building inside and out. They painted a previously unused space upstairs that they plan to turn into a lounge.
He said the most impressive outcome of the project was what the outdoor crew was able to accomplish: "They were weeding everywhere, scraping moss, pressure-washing siding and gutters, weed whacking, hedge trimming, and cleaning out trash from under stairs, hedges and corners of the building. All of the yard waste was loaded into the back of a truck and ended up weighing a total of 1,340 pounds!"
Christopher is a recent Western Washington University graduate and a post-9/11 combat veteran. He has been active in the veteran community since moving to Bellingham in 2008 and currently serves on the Whatcom County Veterans Advisory Board.
Christopher hopes to attract some of the 300 to 500 local post-9/11 veterans studying at the three local colleges to the VFW space, where they can do homework, hold meetings and just hang out.
He says the VFW post is in dire need of younger veterans' involvement, and hopes the new space will start to attract the younger generation of veterans.
The project was organized by Christopher as part of his fellowship with a national organization, The Mission Continues, which provides post-9/11 veterans opportunities to continue their service at home. His fellowship has been with a local nonprofit, Growing Washington, to develop a program called Growing Veterans which works to harness the skills and leadership of post-9/11 veterans and improve communities through sustainable agriculture.
According to its website, The Mission Continues awards fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, empowering them to transform their lives by serving others and their communities. Mission Continues fellows serve six months at a local nonprofit addressing educational, environmental or social issues. Each fellow works to achieve one of three outcomes at the conclusion of their fellowship: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education, or a permanent role of service.
Christopher is looking for donations to install carpet in the new space at the VFW. He already has furniture lined up.
For details, contact him on Facebook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOOD CO-OP DONATES TO LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
The Community Food Co-op announced charities it will support during its Community Shopping Days in 2013.
More than $20,000 was given in 2012, and the groups also get well-deserved publicity from the store.
The groups receive 2 percent of the co-op's sales from both stores on the third Saturday of their designated month, according to a press release. More than 66 groups applied for the 2013 program.
"The day I call the organizations to tell them they've been selected is the best work day of the year," said Karl Meyer, the co-op's outreach coordinator. "The groups are so appreciative and excited when they get the good news."
The 2013 organizations are:
January: KMRE Radio 102.3 FM.
February: Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
March: South Fork Valley Community Association.
April: YWCA of Bellingham.
May: Friends of the Nooksack Samish Watershed.
June: Friends of the Lynden Public Library.
July: Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.
August: La Leche League of Bellingham/Whatcom County.
September: Whatcom County Re-Entry Coalition.
October: Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center.
November: Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network.
December: Make.Shift Art Space.
Co-op directors choose the organizations with a focus on food and sustainable agriculture; social justice, peace and human rights; ecological issues; education; health and well being; and community health.
Applications for the 2014 program will be posted July 1 and are due to the co-op by Sept. 1, 2013. For information, go to communityfood.coop.
VILLAGE BOOKS DONATES $1,500 TO SCHOOLS
Village Books raised more than $1,500 for in-store credits to local schools through its annual "School Nights" program, according to a press release.
"School Nights" is held in November for school staff, students, families and friends. As they do their holiday shopping, they can purchase books that schools have requested, as well as get the credit from the sale of those books, earning a double donation for the schools.
For all purchases made by school supporters, Village Books donates 20 percent of the pre-tax sales as store credit, to be used during the year.
Schools participating in 2012 were Bellingham Cooperative School, Cedar Tree Montessori School, Explorations Academy, Happy Valley Elementary School, Pioneer Meadows Montessori School, Samish Wood Montessori School and Wade King Elementary School.
The name of Christopher Brown's project was added and his contact information updated Dec. 18, 2012.
Out and About is published Mondays in The Bellingham Herald. Julie Shirley is the executive editor of The Bellingham Herald. Contact her at email@example.com or call 360-715-2261.
Reach JULIE SHIRLEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2261.