VOLUNTEER VIEW: Lydia Place works to end homelessness in Whatcom County

Lydia Place was established in 1989 and had about 100 volunteers in 2014.

Purpose: The mission of Lydia Place is to support all people in establishing sustained independence by providing housing, supportive services, advocacy, education and by raising awareness of the faces and causes of homelessness. Lydia Place provides transitional housing, permanent supportive housing services, emergency housing services, life skills programs, case management and works closely with many community partners to meet the diverse needs of those struggling with homelessness. Together with our community partners, our collective goal is to end homelessness in Whatcom County.

Volunteer highlights: For over 20 years Arla Fowler has contributed to the vitality and growth of Lydia Place. Arla has held roles as a board member, volunteer, client support staff, cheerleader and, most recently, as the volunteer operations and store manager of the Lydia Place community thrift store Wise Buys, a role she held for 15 years.

At roughly 80 years young, Arla continues to run circles around Lydia Place 30-something staff, and has maintained a regular volunteer schedule at the store of upwards of two- to three-shifts per week. Though she stepped down from the role of manager in December, Arla has stayed on as a volunteer and remains connected to Wise Buys and the Lydia Place community. She wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would we.

Signature fundraiser: Handbags for Housing, fashion and fun benefiting homeless families, is 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. June 4, Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Tickets and more: handbagsforhousing.com.

Wish list: Sheet sets, pillow and comforters for twin- and full-sized beds. Household cleaning products, vacuum(s), ziplock bags, trash bags and personal hygiene products. Gift cards ($15-$30 value) to Fred Meyer, Target, Regal Cinema and Family Activity Passes.

Volunteer needs: Wise Buys Thrift Store volunteer retail assistants to help with retail sales, sorting donations, merchandising; Lydia Place donation coordinators help organize, sort and transport donations; Lydia Place garden volunteers and needed to maintain property grounds and gardens; also gardening education/outreach positions available.

For more information, go online to lydiaplace.org or wisebuys.org.