Opinion

VOLUNTEER VIEW: A Watered Garden supports families, teaches life skills along with gardening

A Watered Garden Family Learning Center was established in 2003 and had about 10 volunteers in 2014.

Purpose: Watering seeds of change for effective family transformation through adult and family services in the greater Everson area. Individuals and families grow together through various offerings that empower them in their homes, schools, community and workplaces. English-language skills practiced by parents in the public arena rebuild the family core and model leadership. Sixteen new U.S. citizens are contributing positively to the community, with more individuals in process. A new parent group supports young families in parenting skills, healthy lifestyles and building relationships that will continue. A community garden offers families a place to cultivate fresh produce, getting into the dirt and harvesting together. Partnerships with local schools and agencies provide referral capacity for additional services, presentations at the center, student service projects, as well as talented and big-hearted volunteers. Each participant is seen as a watered garden, growing in skills and willing to share.

Volunteer highlights: A Watered Garden has been privileged to include over 30 volunteers in our rural outreach center, most from Bellingham, most students from WWU who traveled the distance to serve in our community, and brought with them remarkable insight, relationships, additional skills and culture. Many of the students continued with us beyond their internships. The past volunteers from WWU came through Whatcom Volunteer Center and finished their final quarters with us, becoming part of the community and culture. So many then traveled to foreign lands. We feel we sent a little piece along to share. Brenna returned to tutor Spanish, assist with summer meals, and now is a member of our board, helping to develop our strategic plan for the future. The freshness and willingness of these young and mature students added to the values we treasure; respect, response to need, creative methods in learning and teaching, and faith in each other.

Signature fundraiser: Usually a Spring event (Springtime in the Garden, Leap Into Spring) with fresh foods and shared stories. None planned yet this year.

Wish list: We are volunteers in need of generous-hearted professionals for cultivating, nourishing and ripening the promotion and support of our faith-based service organization, the relationships we are building and empowering individuals and families in our changing community.

Volunteer needs: Childcare for parent group, 2nd and 4th Thursday, 6 p.m., ESL tutor for lower English level, GED tutor, financial planning and fundraising expert, tutor for Spanish education (native Spanish speaker), trainer for youth intervention program

For more information, go online to awateredgarden.org.

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