Community

Cold and Alone

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A few weeks ago, I reluctantly turned my furnace on for the first time since March. I was reluctant mostly because I didn’t want to admit that those lovely summer months were coming to a close and we were about to face months of time spent indoors while it poured buckets outside. Then I was struck by the realization that there are those that have no furnace, have no warm bed, have no roof or walls, and that some of those doing without these basics are kids like mine. On any given day Bellingham has an estimated 600 unaccompanied young adults (age 14 to 24) that are homeless based on numbers put out by the Whatcom Coalition to End Homelessness.

According to the Department of Justice, there are more than 1.7 million homeless youth annually in the United States. The Urban Institute estimates that nearly 1 in 5 youth under the age of 18 will run away at least once. Public schools in Washington State reported to the US Department of Education that 40,934 students enrolled in the 2016-17 school year were homeless. How do teens and young adults become homeless?

There is no straightforward answer to this question, which makes addressing it so difficult.

According to Tanya Francis, Vocational Coordinator at Northwest Youth Services, there are many factors that contribute to homelessness: youth impacted by childhood or family trauma and making poor choices as a byproduct of that trauma, a lack of life skills and helpful coping mechanisms, reduced opportunities as comparable to other youth with supportive environments, being kicked out of their homes due to their gender identity or sexual orientation (40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGTBQ+), phasing out of support systems like foster care, and simply a lack of affordable housing for youth’s families or youth on their own. One commonality in all of these factors is isolation.

Homeless youth are more prone to be affected by the negative effects associated with isolation due to the already trying times of growing up and just experiencing exactly whom they are as individuals. There are a multitude of programs at the local, state and federal levels already in place to assist families and youth experiencing homelessness.

In response to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that guarantees all children and youth the right to an equal education regardless of their living situation, the Bellingham School District has systems in place to connect families and students experiencing homelessness with local agencies such as Northwest Youth Services and Opportunity Council. But many teens and young adults are still falling through the cracks.

The answer could be more inclusivity, in whatever form it may need to take.

Jason Dallmann, who worked with homeless youth in both Bellingham and on the Lummi Reservation for 14 years, cites that the most successful programs he witnessed were those that made youth feel valued for their role in the program. Dallmann noted that programs which brought together staff, teens and volunteers in a small business setting were most effective, not only because of the valuable hands-on learning of job skills; but it was also the sense of belonging, the connections to other people and the feeling of being valued as a person that seemed to have the most impact on these young people.

It is imperative that we as a society are keeping our kids engaged and introduce them to strong connections with their peer group and adults. This can help our kids prevent isolation and build a network of their own to draw upon, especially if those things aren’t accessible at home. Social service programs such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and Boy or Girl Scouts give youth a sense of value within the group through community service. Still other programs occupy kids’ time after school like the Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and various other after-school programs. All of these programs require funding, scholarships and volunteers to make them effective.

It truly does take a village to raise a child, and we must all take some level of responsibility for the betterment of our next generation.

What part can you play to ensure that young people feel engaged and confident in growing up in our community? One thing Bellinghamsters constantly hear from visitors is that Bellingham is such a welcoming and inclusive place. It’s time to make sure our local youth feel that warm hospitality as well.

Katherine Tolles and Clinton Watson are graduate students in the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Past Columns
Give Hope for the Holidays

November 24, 2021

Climate Action Plan

September 1, 2021

Support Transportation Fund

October 21, 2020

Census Countdown

September 30, 2020

Don’t Fence Us Out

July 22, 2020

Back to the wild

May 6, 2020

Every Other Weekly?

April 1, 2020

Unified Command

March 18, 2020

Kids World

January 29, 2020

Fierce Urgency of Now

January 15, 2020

The Three Rs

December 18, 2019

Saying Goodbye

December 11, 2019

Big Money Politics

November 13, 2019

A Win for the Birds

July 24, 2019

Road to ‘Nowhere’

June 26, 2019

Game Changes

April 24, 2019

Salish Sea Science

January 23, 2019

Cherry Point Amendments

January 16, 2019

Saturday
Paintings of My Life, In Dialogue

11:00am

View Beth Anna Margolis’ “Paintings of My Life” from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Feb. 23 (closed on Thanksgiving) at Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd. The show features a…

Holiday Bazaar

8:00am

Peruse glassworks, woodworks, metalworks, jewelry, paintings, knit-wear and more at a Holiday Bazaar featuring one-of-a-kind gifts from Whatcom County artists from 8am-5pm daily through…

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Allied Arts’ annual Holiday Festival of the Arts takes place from 10am-7pm daily through Dec. 24 (except on Thanksgiving) at 1411 Railroad Ave. The five-week-long festival will feature works…

Salmon Sighting with NSEA

10:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the final Salmon Sighting events of the season taking place from 10am-1pm Friday, and 12pm-3pm Saturday at Bellingham’s Arroyo Park. Join…

Future Artifacts

10:00am

“Future Artifacts” shows from 10am-5pm daily through Nov. 27 in La Conner at the Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. The exhibit features work by Lummi Nation glass artist Dan Friday,…

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10:00am

After a year’s hiatus, Whidbey Art Market returns from 10am-4pm Friday and Saturday in Freeland at Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Dr. There will be something for everyone—oil, acrylic,…

Amy Popelka at Good Earth

11:00am

Works by featured artist Amy Popelka can be seen for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 11am-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000 Harris Ave.

Small Arts Works Juried Show

11:00am

Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s “Small Art Works” regional juried art show can be viewed from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Saturdays through Jan. 13 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St.…

Studio Conversations

11:00am

Anita Lehmann’s “Studio Conversations: Short Stories” can be viewed from 11am-6pm daily (except Tuesdays) through November in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Masks…

Quilt Exhibits in La Conner

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Dia de los Muertos: A Day of Remembrance,”…

Lorna Libert at Scott Milo

11:00am

New Pacific Northwest oils by Bellingham-based artist Lorna Libert will be featured from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 27 at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave.…

Dendritic Signals

11:00am

View “Dendritic Signals” for the final week from 11am-4pm Wednesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The show features abstract artwork in a variety of mediums and colors,…

Morris and Obbink

11:00am

View works by sculptor Ann Morris and landscape-inspired watercolors and colored pencil works by Kim Obbink for the final weekend from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith &…

Mindport Exhibits

11:00am

One-hour reservation slots are now open for household groups or pods of up to 10 people from 11am-6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St. In the months they were…

Among the Trees

11:00am

Check out the invitational exhibit “Among the Trees” for the final week from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The show features works by numerous…

Up Close and Personal at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art,” “Artists x Artists,” “The Fairhaven Hotel,” “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the…

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm

The annual “Deck the Old City Hall” returns starting this weekend from 12pm-5pm Friday through Sunday at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. View a variety of themed, decorated…

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm

Attend “A Drive-Thru Christmas” from 5pm-10pm Friday through Sunday in Stanwood at Warm Beach Park, 20800 Marine Dr. The illuminating experience features more than a million lights, festive…

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7:30pm

Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph will make appearances when Music Theatre International’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed…

Genre Legends

7:30pm

At 7:30pm and 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday, “Genre Legends” will take the stage at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. Watch the players pick multiple genres for each show and…

A Christmas Carol

8:00pm

One of the Skagit Valley’s favorite holiday traditions continues when A Christmas Carol opens this weekend with showings at 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 2:30pm Sunday in Mount Vernon at the…

Shakedown Shows

9:00pm

Fretts, JP Falcon Grady, and an “It’s Kizmet” drag show start at 9pm Fri., Nov. 26 at the Shakedown, 1212 N. State St. The COVID Relief Benefit Show for Make.Shift Art Space will be followed…

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am

Attend a Pancake Breakfast from 8am-10am at Ferndale’s American Legion Post #154, 5537 2nd Ave. Entry is $3 for kids 12 and under, $6 for adults.

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for a Work Party from 9am-12pm at Squalicum Creek. Volunteers will be planting and mulching native trees and shrubs to increase stream health…

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am

The Bellingham Farmers Market continues its 29th season from 10am-2pm Saturdays through December 18 at Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Attendees can expect about 60-70 vendors per…

Open Day for Honey, I Shrunk the Art

11:00am

Attend opening day for “Honey, I Shrunk the Art” from 11am-7pm on Camano Island at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way. The annual multi-artist small works show can…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters host a Share Spot from 12pm-1:30pm every Saturday offering free food to take or share in the employee parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest…

Holiday Market at Twin Sisters

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Holiday Market at BBB

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

Twin Sisters Holiday Market

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Boundary Bay Brewery Holiday Market

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

An Elvis Family Christmas

1:00pm

Kick off the holidays and award-winning impersonator Danny Vernon for “An Elvis Family Christmas” at 1pm and 6pm in Anacortes at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge’s Walton Event Center, 12885…

Semiahmoo Sips

2:00pm

From 2pm-4pm every Saturday, attend “Semiahmoo Sips” in Blaine at the wine cellar at Semiahmoo Resort, 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy. A sommelier will pour samples of four different wines from a…

Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour

4:00pm

Learn more about the inner workings of a true grain-to-glass distillery when local historians the Good Time Girls lead 21-and-older tasting tours at 4pm Saturdays at Chuckanut Bay Distillery,…

Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses

4:00pm

As part of Small Business Saturday, attend a Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses from 4pm-9pm at the Granary, 1211 Granary Ave. All vendors will donate 10 percent of…

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7:00pm

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Wild Buffalo Live Music Lineup

7:00pm

The Walrus performs at 7pm and Spaceband takes the stage at 9:30pm Sat., Nov. 27 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming events include John Craigie with special…

Sunday
Paintings of My Life, In Dialogue

11:00am

View Beth Anna Margolis’ “Paintings of My Life” from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Feb. 23 (closed on Thanksgiving) at Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd. The show features a…

Holiday Bazaar

8:00am

Peruse glassworks, woodworks, metalworks, jewelry, paintings, knit-wear and more at a Holiday Bazaar featuring one-of-a-kind gifts from Whatcom County artists from 8am-5pm daily through…

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Allied Arts’ annual Holiday Festival of the Arts takes place from 10am-7pm daily through Dec. 24 (except on Thanksgiving) at 1411 Railroad Ave. The five-week-long festival will feature works…

Salmon Sighting with NSEA

10:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the final Salmon Sighting events of the season taking place from 10am-1pm Friday, and 12pm-3pm Saturday at Bellingham’s Arroyo Park. Join…

Future Artifacts

10:00am

“Future Artifacts” shows from 10am-5pm daily through Nov. 27 in La Conner at the Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. The exhibit features work by Lummi Nation glass artist Dan Friday,…

Whidbey Art Market

10:00am

After a year’s hiatus, Whidbey Art Market returns from 10am-4pm Friday and Saturday in Freeland at Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Dr. There will be something for everyone—oil, acrylic,…

Amy Popelka at Good Earth

11:00am

Works by featured artist Amy Popelka can be seen for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 11am-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000 Harris Ave.

Small Arts Works Juried Show

11:00am

Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s “Small Art Works” regional juried art show can be viewed from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Saturdays through Jan. 13 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St.…

Studio Conversations

11:00am

Anita Lehmann’s “Studio Conversations: Short Stories” can be viewed from 11am-6pm daily (except Tuesdays) through November in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Masks…

Quilt Exhibits in La Conner

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Dia de los Muertos: A Day of Remembrance,”…

Lorna Libert at Scott Milo

11:00am

New Pacific Northwest oils by Bellingham-based artist Lorna Libert will be featured from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 27 at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave.…

Dendritic Signals

11:00am

View “Dendritic Signals” for the final week from 11am-4pm Wednesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The show features abstract artwork in a variety of mediums and colors,…

Morris and Obbink

11:00am

View works by sculptor Ann Morris and landscape-inspired watercolors and colored pencil works by Kim Obbink for the final weekend from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith &…

Mindport Exhibits

11:00am

One-hour reservation slots are now open for household groups or pods of up to 10 people from 11am-6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St. In the months they were…

Among the Trees

11:00am

Check out the invitational exhibit “Among the Trees” for the final week from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The show features works by numerous…

Up Close and Personal at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art,” “Artists x Artists,” “The Fairhaven Hotel,” “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the…

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm

The annual “Deck the Old City Hall” returns starting this weekend from 12pm-5pm Friday through Sunday at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. View a variety of themed, decorated…

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm

Attend “A Drive-Thru Christmas” from 5pm-10pm Friday through Sunday in Stanwood at Warm Beach Park, 20800 Marine Dr. The illuminating experience features more than a million lights, festive…

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

7:30pm

Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph will make appearances when Music Theatre International’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed…

Genre Legends

7:30pm

At 7:30pm and 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday, “Genre Legends” will take the stage at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. Watch the players pick multiple genres for each show and…

A Christmas Carol

8:00pm

One of the Skagit Valley’s favorite holiday traditions continues when A Christmas Carol opens this weekend with showings at 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 2:30pm Sunday in Mount Vernon at the…

Shakedown Shows

9:00pm

Fretts, JP Falcon Grady, and an “It’s Kizmet” drag show start at 9pm Fri., Nov. 26 at the Shakedown, 1212 N. State St. The COVID Relief Benefit Show for Make.Shift Art Space will be followed…

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am

Attend a Pancake Breakfast from 8am-10am at Ferndale’s American Legion Post #154, 5537 2nd Ave. Entry is $3 for kids 12 and under, $6 for adults.

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for a Work Party from 9am-12pm at Squalicum Creek. Volunteers will be planting and mulching native trees and shrubs to increase stream health…

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am

The Bellingham Farmers Market continues its 29th season from 10am-2pm Saturdays through December 18 at Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Attendees can expect about 60-70 vendors per…

Open Day for Honey, I Shrunk the Art

11:00am

Attend opening day for “Honey, I Shrunk the Art” from 11am-7pm on Camano Island at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way. The annual multi-artist small works show can…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters host a Share Spot from 12pm-1:30pm every Saturday offering free food to take or share in the employee parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest…

Holiday Market at Twin Sisters

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Holiday Market at BBB

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

Twin Sisters Holiday Market

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Boundary Bay Brewery Holiday Market

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

An Elvis Family Christmas

1:00pm

Kick off the holidays and award-winning impersonator Danny Vernon for “An Elvis Family Christmas” at 1pm and 6pm in Anacortes at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge’s Walton Event Center, 12885…

Semiahmoo Sips

2:00pm

From 2pm-4pm every Saturday, attend “Semiahmoo Sips” in Blaine at the wine cellar at Semiahmoo Resort, 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy. A sommelier will pour samples of four different wines from a…

Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour

4:00pm

Learn more about the inner workings of a true grain-to-glass distillery when local historians the Good Time Girls lead 21-and-older tasting tours at 4pm Saturdays at Chuckanut Bay Distillery,…

Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses

4:00pm

As part of Small Business Saturday, attend a Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses from 4pm-9pm at the Granary, 1211 Granary Ave. All vendors will donate 10 percent of…

Steve Webb and the Great Mad Swirl

7:00pm

Steve Webb and his band the Great Mad Swirl will make music from 7pm-9pm at the Firehouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave. The local trio are known for blending a powerfully rich…

Wild Buffalo Live Music Lineup

7:00pm

The Walrus performs at 7pm and Spaceband takes the stage at 9:30pm Sat., Nov. 27 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming events include John Craigie with special…