Thanks to community donations to Extend-a-Hand, The Bellingham Herald’s annual charity, 123 households avoided eviction or received rental help and 447 people received help with their prescriptions this year.
Last holiday season, community members donated $42,645 to Extend-a-Hand. All of that money has been spent this year helping the needy in Whatcom County.
Extend-a-Hand funds help patients with their co-pays and deductibles at Unity Care NW, as well as pay for prescriptions for the uninsured. It also helps low-income residents find and keep rental housing through the Opportunity Council, a nonprofit community agency.
The Herald covers the charity’s administrative costs for up to $50,000 in donations, so gifts directly support people in need. Donations are tax deductible and donors through Jan. 3, 2018, are recognized in The Herald.
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At the Opportunity Council, 94 households avoided eviction or received other rental help last year from Extend-A-Hand. Additionally, Extend-A-Hand provided shelter and homes to 29 families with children.
One of those helped was a single mother and her three children. The mother’s seasonal job ended sooner than expected and she was waiting to start a new, higher paying, full-time job. The break in her employment and paychecks depleted the family’s savings and they fell behind on their rent. Extend-a-Hand helped pay the rent, and the family was not evicted. The mother started her new job within two weeks of receiving assistance and was able to use her first paycheck from her new job to pay her next month’s rent on time and maintain her housing.
Extend-a-Hand funding assisted many families with temporary shelter over this past especially cold winter. One family that received help was living in their car with three young children. The mother was working while the father was caring for the children, taking them to school and appointments throughout the day. Extend-A-Hand funds allowed the family to move to a motel, which allowed the mother to increase her work hours and the father to begin earning income. The family went on to secure affordable housing.
Help with prescriptions
Here’s a sample of people Extend-A-Hand helped at Unity Care NW this year:
▪ A 24-year-old pregnant woman received prescription prenatal vitamins because she did not have insurance or the ability to pay for the important supplements.
▪ A 58-year-old man was able to use funds multiple times to receive his prescriptions for COPD, hypertension and anti-coagulation medications. He has expressed his gratitude for this assistance many times.
▪ An 81-year-old man was struggling to make ends meet. He was paying high premiums for his Medicare-D prescription drug plan and had to pay toward meeting the insurance deductible. The Unity Care NW pharmacy was able to cover the copay for his insulin on two occasions.
▪ A 50-year-old man experiencing homelessness was relieved to be able to access crucial medications to control seizures. He was experiencing extensive medical issues that included seizure disorder, post-traumatic brain syndrome and substance abuse. Before he was a patient of Unity Care NW, he often would go without his seizure medications because he couldn’t afford them.
Mail donations: Extend-a-Hand, c/o Opportunity Council, P.O. Box 2134, Bellingham, WA 98227
Drop off donations: Opportunity Council, 1111 Cornwall Ave. Credit card donations are accepted.
Details: Kaitlyn Miller, 360-734-5121, ext. 333