The Bellingham YWCA is a remarkable organization. It does incredible work within our community’s and is one of my favorite organizations to support whenever and however I am able.
The Y’s Womencare program, for instance, provides emergency, confidential shelter, 24 hour crisis support services and community education for women who are victims of domestic violence. It’s transitional housing program is available for single adult women in Whatcom County to give them a safe, supportive place to stay while connecting them with the appropriate resources to get their lives back on track and become self-supporting. The Back to Work Boutique provides low income women in Whatcom County with new clothes sot that they feel confident and look good while applying for a job. And, an especially popular program at this time of year is the Prom Dress Program, that allows young women of all incomes access to a formal dress for a special occasion. The YW currently has more than 200 formal dresses in stock.
The organization also sponsors the Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame. Since its founding in 1999, the YWCA has honored 56 contemporary Whatcom County women, living and deceased, and 12 Legacy Award winners, from the early days of the county, whose service has inspired later generations. This year’s awards event will be this upcoming Sunday, March 23 at Northwest Hall in Bellingham.
I was honored to have been asked to photograph for the event three of this year’s four awards recipients–Julianna Guy, Ann Marie Read and Deborra Garrett whom I had photographed for her campaign in 2012 in her bid for Superior Court Judge. Ramona Elizabeth Phare Morris will also be a recipient. To be selected, honorees must have made a lasting impact, served as role models for women and girls, demonstrated perseverance and vision, and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.
Julianna Guy is a delightful woman whose eyes sparkle with life when she speaks. I had a lovely time getting to know her during our studio session. A former accountant for network and local television, she moved back to Bellingham to retire and is now persistent spokesperson for a park and branch library in the underserved Cordata neighborhood, She is now helping to create a park in the King Mountain area. Juliana formed the Cordata Neighborhood Association, resulting in a park being built & greenway being designated. She is a former SCORE counselor, helping entrepreneurs – especially women – start new businesses. Juliana is also involved with Planned Parenthood, and Big Brothers & Sisters.
Ann Marie Read and my path’s crossed many years ago when our sons were studying piano from the same teacher. I was delighted to catch up with her and to learn what she and her family are now doing. During the past twenty-five years, she has been a parenting educator at Bellingham Technical College (BTC). She has provided critical early childhood education for parents in a variety of venues, including weekly parent/child classes, free drop-in groups for low-income parents such as “Baby Connections”. In addition, she has worked with special populations, including parents participating in the “Early Head Start” program, parents from the Nooksack Tribe, and student parents in BTC’s professional technical programs. How she has done all this and been a mother of three sons too, I’m not exactly sure.
Judge Deborra Garrett is someone I also came to know through our sons who attended the same middle and high schools. (She was the subject of my blog post in August, 2012–Primarily Primaries which you can read by clicking on the link here.) Her career in Whatcom County spans more than 30 years. She has represented individuals, organizations & businesses. Often her representation provided her clients the only remaining opportunity to resolve their legal issues. In 2013, Judge Garrett became the first woman elected to a Whatcom County bench as Superior Court Judge and I was proud to contribute to her campaign by photographing her and some of her campaign events.
The fourth recipient is Ramona Elizabeth Phare Morris. She is a strong proud Native women who has advocated for Lummi People as well as all Native Americans, advocating in important areas such as jurisdictional and fishing rights, BIA Land Trust, roads on tribal land, Tribal Taxes (fish taxes) Treaty Tax Force (Nationally), Health Care and Youth Education, tax issues & concerns for tribal people. Ramona has represented the Lummi People proudly and has worked alongside many other tribal leaders .
There’s still time to make a reservation for Sunday’s Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony to recognize the contributions and achievements of these extraordinary women who have all made Bellingham a better place to live. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this, and other YWCA programs. For more information just click on the link( in green lettering) or phone the YWCA at 360-734-4820.