Since 1981 Interfaith Coalition has been a leader and a partner in tackling some of our community’s greatest issues to ensure the health and well-being of all of Whatcom County’s residents.
We are a grassroots organization that had its start in 1981 with the vision of Pastor Don Clinton from Christ the Servant Lutheran Church. He convened a meeting of more than 40 religious and social service leaders from around Whatcom County with the goal of finding ways to serve our neighbors in need. Programs, such as health care, that provided a safety net to many of our neighbors had lost vital funding. Our community needed help.
A series of meetings resulted in the creation of Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County, a nonprofit organization, which pooled the resources of many of the area’s faith communities to meet unmet needs of local people in poverty.
The first major initiative of Interfaith Coalition, in partnership with Opportunity Council and Whatcom Medical Society, was to provide a safety net to our neighbors without access to health care. This partnership created a program for people to receive quality, low-cost care. Thus began Interfaith Medical Care in September 1982. After years of growth and expanding services, Interfaith Community Health Center, now Unity Care NW, became an independent nonprofit organization. Today, Unity Care NW with offices in Bellingham and Ferndale, provides vital services to nearly one in 10 Whatcom County residents.
With the health needs of our vulnerable neighbors being cared for by the compassionate and skilled providers at Interfaith Community Health Center, Interfaith Coalition in the early 1990s convened a community meeting to identify the next pressing issue facing Whatcom County. Family homelessness rose to the top of the list and gave rise to our current housing program.
Homelessness is an ongoing challenge. We’ve tackled this with a variety of models for housing children and their families experiencing homelessness. A new model soon to be launched is adoption by our member congregations of a national program called Family Promise (link). Family Promise will help meet the growing need to support more vulnerable families, in addition to those served in our seven homes in Bellingham and four in Ferndale.
Some of the other ways our coalition of congregations and community members reaches out to those in need include our
CAST program – Coffee and Sandwiches Together, Winter Warmth Drive, Kids Need Books program, and Holiday Gifts program.
A core component of our mission is to identify and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. Since 1981 our coalition of congregations and community members has done just that. And there remains more to do.