If you're a chef who would like to host a Walla Walla-style wine dinner to raise money for Bellingham's Sean Humphrey House, Joshua Grubb would like to talk with you.
On Feb. 2, Grubb began his new job as executive director of Sean Humphrey, which houses low-income people with HIV/AIDS.
A 31-year-old graduate of Western Washington University, he spent 2006 to 2011 working with Boys & Girls Clubs in Whatcom and Skagit counties, including a year as director of the Mount Vernon club.
Question: Joshua, what's this about a Walla Walla-style wine dinner?
Answer: I'm from Walla Walla. Our big annual fundraiser is coming up May 4 in connection with the Cinco de Mayo celebration. We'd love to have people donate items for our live and silent auctions. And I'm hoping to find a chef who can help us put on such a dinner as a live-auction item.
A: Why did the Sean Humphrey post appeal to you?
Q: I've known since college days that I wanted to work in fields that help the community. With Sean Humphrey House, it was the appeal of working with a population that a lot of people may not want to work with. It's also a population of people I have not worked with before.
Q: What is the house's mission?
A: Humphrey House provides a safe place for low-income people with HIV/AIDS in need of personal care services. We have six beds, and they're currently filled. It's a long-term-care, adult family home. Right now we have six men, but we have had women living there.
Sometimes our residents have been chronically homeless, or have physical or mental disabilities. In every case they're low income, without resources.
Q: What has impressed you the most so far?
A: It's the passion and compassion of our employees. I'm also always impressed with the resilience and good nature of the residents. Every single day, one of them has a joke for me.
Q: Is Sean Humphrey unique?
A: We're one of three such facilities in our state devoted to caring for people with HIV/AIDS. Why aren't there more? Perhaps there isn't as much need as there once was. HIV/AIDS is absolutely not a death sentence, what with the great advances we've seen in medical research and treatment. Our residents have gone from living in a hospice, to living.
Q: How did you learn of the house?
A: I was volunteering with a local group that calls itself Benefit X. I'm now a member, part of a core group of six. We get donations and redistribute them to 26 different local nonprofits and community service organizations. The Sean Humphrey House was the first nonprofit Benefit X donated to.
Q: Do you need volunteers?
A: We would love to have more volunteers who want to run activities for our residents, or people who would like to donate services such as fixing our fence. We also have spots available on our board of directors.
For details about Sean Humphrey House, see seanhumphreyhouse.org.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.