Whatcom County businesses, organizations send Oso mudslide aid


Local organizations and businesses have done their part helping those impacted by the Oso mudslide:

Members of Bellingham Elks Lodge No. 194 hand-delivered a donation of $210.11 to the Red Cross on March 28, according to Jacklyn Glass.

Wells Fargo & Co. donated $30,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts and gave the Red Cross more than $3,500 worth of gas station gift cards to be distributed to families impacted by the mudslide and volunteers.

From Alcoa Intalco Works in Ferndale, the Alcoa Foundation has committed to a $30,000 grant to the American Red Cross to aid in humanitarian assistance. In addition, Alcoa Foundation is matching Alcoa employee donations, dollar for dollar up to a total of $5,000, to the American Red Cross relief effort.

James Estes reports that The Markets donated nearly 10,000 pounds of non-perishable foods and more than $5,000 in cash to the rescue and recovery effort. He said team members, on their own time, used The Markets' store ovens and deli kitchens to cook hot food, or to fry chicken for delivery.

Innovations for Quality Living in Bellingham closed its shop in order to help feed first responders in Oso. Their major fireplace supply brand set it up through the Red Cross.

United Food and Commercial Workers No. 21 sent a $5,000 donation to the Red Cross to help the people in the local community.

Bellingham Harborview Lions Club raised almost $5,000 for Oso relief. Vicki Harnden and Kenny Roos led club members who solicited donations at area markets. The money will go to the Lions District B District governor to be distributed as needed for the victims of the slide.

Fans at the Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division event April 4-5 in Lynden gave $5,017 for the American Red Cross to use in relief efforts. The donation drive was organized by the Northwest Washington Fair & Event Center, which sponsored the Lynden competition.


The Whatcom San Juan Senior Nutrition Program received a $2,500 grant from the Meals on Wheels Association of America on behalf of Dewey Griffin Subaru and Subaru of America, Inc. for its participation in the company's Share the Love event. For every vehicle sold or leased between Nov. 21, 2013, and Jan. 2, 2014, Subaru donated $250 to the customer's choice of charity. Here's more from the press release:

"Community partners are vital to helping the senior nutrition program continue to serve vulnerable seniors in Whatcom and San Juan Counties.

"During this year's event, the Whatcom San Juan Senior Nutrition Program partnered with Dewey Griffin Subaru during the 2013 holiday season to raise funds and awareness of senior hunger in Whatcom County. Members from the Dewey Griffin team, including general manager Allen Meyer and customer service representative Tanya McKinney, helped to deliver meals to homebound seniors during the Share the Love campaign. Also, for every car that was test driven, Dewey Griffin donated the cost of one meal to the Whatcom San Juan Senior Nutrition Program. During the campaign Dewey Griffin employees also began serving lunch at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center weekly and have committed to a year-round partnership with the Program.

"The Whatcom San Juan Senior Nutrition Program has partnered with Dewey Griffin Subaru during the Share the Love event for the past two years and has received a total of $6,500. This year's funding will help ensure that the program can continue to meet the growing demand for Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors. The number of meals delivered by the program increased by 12 percent over the past two years."


Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College honored two of the colleges' students who were nominees for the 2014 Transforming Lives Awards from the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges. The awards recognize students who have overcome significant barriers to achieve their higher education goals, according to a press release. Here's what the colleges had to say about the students:

Fidelis Eze, BTC:

"After he was laid off from his job as a plumber, Eze was encouraged to pursue training and education by BTC director and counselor Malcolm Oliver. He is now pursuing a certificate in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Eze credits his success to BTC's outstanding faculty and staff and the support of financial aid. He enjoys the hands-on learning and believes his background coupled with the new skills he is gaining will lead to a steady job."

"What I've learned is to know what you want and go for it," he said. "There will always be challenges in life, but knowing what you want and opening yourself up for advice will help. Keep focused and think of a better tomorrow."

"Fidelis' story is a prime example of what our college aims to provide its students - the opportunity to succeed in attaining a living-wage career. He reflects the best of our future by illustrating where commitment to excellence and achievement can take you," said Dr. Patricia McKeown, BTC president.

Rodrigo Garcia-Berguecio, WCC:

"A 20-year veteran of construction work, Garcia-Berguecio had to change direction following an irreversible injury. At the age of 40, he started with entry-level college classes at Whatcom, earned his associate degree in paralegal studies, and is now working toward his transfer degree so he may earn a bachelor's degree. Originally from Chile, Garcia-Berguecio had to overcome language barriers and the stress of returning to college later in life."

"The one and only way I can become valuable to my family and community is with higher schooling," he said. "I agree with Aristotle's quote, 'Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.'"

"Rodrigo's determination to succeed is inspiring," said Kathi Hiyane-Brown, WCC president. "He represents Whatcom's vision to graduate innovators who are engaged with our changing and diverse communities. The entire campus community is extremely proud of him."


Local Society for Human Resource Management Chapter has announced board members for 2014. They are: President Erica Johnson of Skagit Valley Casino Resort, president-elect Ronda Hayes of T-Mobile, past-president Rhonda Purdy of North Coast Credit Union, co-treasurers Heidi Kaempfer of Hotel Bellwether and Partena Karipidis, and secretary Shannon Jacoby of Express Employment Professionals. ... Pipe band drummer Steven Wheeler, a Bellingham resident and student at WWU, won the gold medal in the highest amateur division at the North American Solo Championships held in Kansas City, Mo. Steven is also the drumming instructor for the Bellingham Firefighter pipe band. He won the same award in 2010 at the event, which he says is one of the premier solo events for pipe band drummers and bagpipers from all over the world. ... Fred Sheppard has joined Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County as resource development manager. He brings 17 years working in education for nonprofits and comes to the county from Houston.

Reach JULIE SHIRLEY at julie.shirley@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2261.

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