Seniors & Aging

Learn how retirees can make a difference at Lighthouse Mission

Shown in May 2016, Diane Bruland has been volunteering with The Lighthouse Mission for eight years. “It’s an incredible place,” she says.
Shown in May 2016, Diane Bruland has been volunteering with The Lighthouse Mission for eight years. “It’s an incredible place,” she says. For The Bellingham Herald

During her nearly five decades of work in a variety of roles, Diane Bruland of Bellingham had no idea that many of her most rewarding experiences would come in retirement.

“I didn’t know much about The Lighthouse Mission,” says Bruland, who has served the mission and its work for the homeless for nearly a decade as a volunteer in its administrative office, using the skills she learned as a paralegal and working for businesses and nonprofits. Bruland, 73, also serves as a volunteer in Bellingham Public Schools.

One the mission’s most avid advocates, she has she served during most of former director Ron Buchinski’s nearly 12-year tenure. The new director is longtime mission staffer Hans Erchinger-Davis.

“Ron accomplished so much, so many amazing things,” Bruland says. “Now, I’m sure Hans will do a great job.”

A member of Mount Baker High’s class of 1960, Bruland has been married for 23 years to Rick Bruland. They have a blended family of seven children, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

They dated in high school and she became reacquainted with him when she returned to Whatcom County for her 30th high school reunion.

I wholeheartedly recommend people to consider volunteer work.

Diane Bruland, Lighthouse Mission volunteer

Bruland says rewarding aspects of her time as a volunteer at the mission include the creation of its nearby drop-in center on West Holly Street, the development of Agape Home for women and their children, and installation of the mission’s elevator, which has made a world of difference for people with handicaps.

“It is so satisfying,” she says. “I wholeheartedly recommend people to consider volunteer work.”

She also enjoys helping at the Lighthouse’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

“I’ve made tons of phone calls to donors, thanking them and inviting them to our special events,” she says. “There are always mailings that go out. I’m on call there.”

Her Christian faith is a vital part of her life and she enjoys seeing how the mission functions as a faith-based organization.

“I first became aware of The Lighthouse’s work when I knew a couple of guys with alcoholism,” she says. “I saw how at The Lighthouse, they felt (the guys) mattered. They went into what is called the ‘New Life Program’ and I saw how this helped them.”

They’re all believers and all so devoted to the work of the mission, helping people taking control of their lives.

Diane Bruland, Lighthouse Mission volunteer

She recalls how some people during her youth would think of a mission as “a flophouse.”

“Before people make any judgments, I would urge them to attend one of our open houses or ask to take a tour of The Lighthouse,” she says. “People at these events have told me, ‘I had no idea what (good work) goes on behind the doors.’”

A former board member at the mission, Bruland says it didn’t take long for her to realize what a great place it could be for a volunteer.

“What impressed me the most was just how dedicated the staff is,” she says. “They’re all believers and all so devoted to the work of the mission, helping people taking control of their lives.”

Bruland says it’s important that people realize the mission depends entirely on community donations.

“Government is not involved in donations; the United Way is not involved,” she says.

Lighthouse Mission Ministries

Phone: 360-733-5120

Online: thelighthousemission.org

Email:email@thelighthousemission.org

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