Love INC in Whatcom County
In 1988 Whatcom Love INC began serving the needs of struggling families, coordinating with local churches and agencies. For several years prior to this time, a group of churches occasionally joined together for service projects. They eventually saw the need for more consistent service and expansion of participation by church volunteers, and became affiliated with the national Love INC organization.
Initially housed in donated space on Northwest Avenue, the Love INC operations moved to a location in the Bellingham Irongate area thanks to the generosity of Bellingar Storage. This location allowed the Love INC furniture ministry to expand into a continuous warehousing and delivery program. When the furniture program was dissolved in 2018, Love INC moved to its present location on the Hope in Christ campus on Sunset and James.
Starting with just half a dozen founding churches the organization grew to about 30 members in the first 10 years, and added another 5 churches by 2010. The partnership network continues to grow, with Love INC currently represents 38 partner congregations, while maintaining a close informal relationship with more than a dozen additional churches. Early pioneers in the ministry, including board leaders, were Harley Hiller, Kathy and Curtis Atnaeson, Barbara Holmes, and long-time Executive Director Colleen Miller.
Under Miller’s supervision, a part-time Clearinghouse Coordinator was employed and a strong team of phone volunteers assembled. Ginger Hansey was a long-time, faithful Coordinator demonstrating great resourcefulness. Other Executive Directors and Board leaders from recent years included Kae Unrein, Greg DePaul, Don Galloway, and John Thomas.
As we enter into our 30th year of service to Whatcom County, we celebrate the ways in which Whatcom Love INC has been able to help thousands of at-risk or broken families and individuals threatened by homelessness with financial coaching, referrals, and help with basic needs. We are also looking towards the future, developing new programs and initiatives to strategically mobilize our partnership network to address the complex and systematic needs of our community. Our Redemptive Compassion training, launched in 2018, has already helped to shift the perspective of dozens of leaders to adopt a strategic, rather than reactionary posture in engaging community needs, and transitions in our board and staffing has given us a fresh vision to mobilize our partnership network in a new campaign of relational engagement in our community that will share with our neighbors the riches that we have in our communities of faith.