VOLUNTEER VIEW: Bellingham Community Meal Program provides monthly meal, respect to all

Bellingham Community Meal Program was established in 1983 and had about 180 volunteers in 2014.

Purpose: The Bellingham Community Meal Program, staffed completely by volunteers, provides one free meal the last Sunday of the month from January through October. Meals are for anyone who would like to come, without requirements. These are hearty, healthy meals served in a welcoming and safe environment. Currently we serve about 450 meals each month. Running continuously for 32 years now, our goal is to help provide people with a nutritious meal at the end of the month when money is especially tight. Our guests include homeless people, low income and working people, and families. Every volunteer’s job includes their task at hand, as well as helping our guests feel like they are welcome in this place. Treating our guests with dignity and respect is a significant part of our mission.

Volunteer highlights: Bellingham Community Meal Program has the best volunteers! We have a dedicated board of directors, planners and staff as well as a constant stream of new volunteers. Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, and First Congregational Church provide the core of our volunteers. The Church of the Assumption provides space for us to hold the meal, as well as volunteers. Many groups support our efforts. Here’s a current sample: Lynden High School basketball and wrestling teams, Lynden High School Honor Society, Meridian International Club, WWU Anthropology classes and groups, Explorers Girls Club, Bellingham Insight Meditation Society, Filipino American Group, and Volunteer Center of Whatcom County. We extend great thanks to Whatcom Educational Credit Union and Whidbey Bank/Heritage Bank for paying for a meal and providing large groups of volunteers once a year! Our fabulous cookie bakers assure we’ll have fresh baked cookies and breads at each meal!

Signature fundraiser: To donate, contact Anna Mae Hess at annamae2@comcast.net.

Wish list: New, two-door commercial freezer, heated hot food (hotel/sheet pan) holding box, 20-gallon tilt skillet, sheet pan (baker’s) rack, Big John commercial propane BBQ grill, $1,000 buys a meal for one month.

Volunteer needs: For every meal we need roughly 70 volunteers who work in 2-3 hour shifts from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Jobs include food prep, dining room set up and take down, serving line, serving beverages, cleaning and resetting tables, dish washing and final cleanup.

For more information, go online to http://bellinghamcommunitymealprogram.weebly.com/.