HELP WANTED: Fair Seeks Student Volunteers

by Rachel Remington

Horizon Reporter

From redesigning existing creeks to building homes for low-income families, the second annual service fair at Whatcom Community College held a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for any interested students. 

The fair, held on October 13, featured representatives from a dozen different non-profit organizations around Whatcom County, all hoping to spark interest in Whatcom students to get them more involved in volunteering.

 The event included Bellingham Books to Prisoners, an organization that collects donated books and sends them to prisoners that write to the organization requesting books.  The group meets every Monday to wrap up books and send them away.  Prisoners have requested a wide variety of genres, including Wiccan books, math or science textbooks, cookbooks, or even dictionaries.

Dave Huss, a representative for Bellingham Books to Prisoners, pointed out that many inmates request books that will help to sharpen their minds so they can self-improve before getting released.  “Someday many of these people are going to get out and they want to change their ways of thinking,” said Huss.

Other volunteer groups also share education and life enrichment to those they provide service for.  Sterling Meadows, a non-profit organization that supports farmworker families and senior citizens, offers after-school educational classes for children from grades Kindergarten to 12, and hosts classes for adults, including parenting classes and ESL (English as a second language) classes.

The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement organization provides great learning experiences for those who are interested in wildlife restoration and environmental science.  The group develops work parties that partake in activities like restoring damaged creeks to restore salmon habitats.  They redesign creeks by taking out invasive plants in the area and laying down wood debris to keep the restructured creek walls together.

Students have an opportunity to learn through art by volunteering at Allied Arts, another organization that came to the fair.  The non-profit group will send art teachers to schools to teach students art projects, and they host a month long holiday art festival where any local artists can set up booths to sell their homemade art projects.

A number of other great organizations were represented at the fair, such as Habitat for Humanity, an organization that provides housing for low-income families, and the Alternative Humane Society, a group “dedicated to improving the lives of dogs and cats and helping pets stay in loving homes,” as noted by their mission statement.

Leah Congdon, Whatcom’s service learning coordinator, organized most of the fair.  She contacted the organizations and talked to representatives, got tables set up, posted advertisements around campus, and got the word out to students and faculty.  She said the fair was great for students so they could “talk to people one on one so they can make those connections” with members of organizations.

If you would like to get more involved with helping your community, or would like to learn about volunteer opportunities in Whatcom County, you can contact Leah Congdon to get more information at:


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