Where to Volunteer in Whatcom County 2023

Q: Have you written your “give back” plan for 2023? 

At the top of mine is this:

Volunteer more in 2023.

In this blog post, I’ve included 6 different categories of Whatcom County volunteer opportunities with links to them all.

Full disclosure: organizing the list below helps me as much as I hope it might help you or someone you share this with.

Food / Hunger Related

According to the Bellingham Food Bank’s website, 20% of Bellingham’s residents regularly visit the Bellingham Food Bank, and 50% of them are senior citizens and kids.

Put differently, if you drive by 10 houses, 2 of them are relying on the Food Bank for sustenance.

One of the most amazing qualities of the Food Bank is their leveraged food buying.

They can turn a $100 donation into 1000 pounds of nutritious food, so making a financial donation is a HUGE victory for those in need.

They also, however, have a range of volunteer opportunities.

Another option is to volunteer to grocery shop for a senior citizen in need.

That is one of many, many volunteer opportunities browsable on WhatcomVolunteer.org.

Another variation is to help pack meals for those receiving “Meals on Wheels.”

This iconic program gets food into the households of people who:

  • May have lost a spouse who had handled the cooking
  • May have a physical disability that prevents them from preparing meals
  • May have no family in the area to help during times of struggle
  • Deal with any of the other situations that make them rely on help getting nutritious food delivered.

Of course actually delivering the meals is another volunteer opportunity where help is needed.

Kid Related

Helping kids specifically is an area with much need.

Fortunately, the heavy lifting of identifying the needs and organizing means to help are already in place.

Choose from any one of the following and know that you’ll be moving the ball up the proverbial field in the lives of our area’s youth.

Skookum Kids was our first-ever “100 Houses” donation recipient and exists to help foster kids transition into the foster system.

Imagine those kids’ fear and uncertainty at that time.

The program operates several emergency shelter houses they call “Landings” to help soften those first few turbulent hours.

You can volunteer for a minimum of 4 hours per month to help at one of the Landing houses, along with several other options to get involved with Skookum Kids.

If you’re someone who is drawn to sports and an active lifestyle, volunteering at the YMCA could be a perfect fit for you!

There are opportunities to help coach, to help with the Trailblazers running program, or just helping in the wellness center.

Are you familiar with the Whatcom Center for Early Learning, who is renowned for helping with therapy and support services for children with developmental delays and disabilities?

They are currently in need of volunteers to help with document sorting and filing, and also classroom volunteers.

Housing Related

The housing and homelessness crisis has been a recurring theme in many past blog posts, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

It is a topic that is extremely multi-faceted and has numerous volunteer opportunities in a range of different areas.

One of the most well-known organizations that helps create affordable housing is Habitat for Humanity.

With Habitat, you can volunteer on a construction site, in their used building materials and thrift shop, or for clerical work.

If you and your KIDS would like to help with the housing situation, Habitat for Humanity has special volunteer programs specific to youth volunteers.

The Lighthouse Mission is about to undergo a major reconstruction project that will provide up to 300 to 400 beds for unsheltered people.

The Lighthouse relies heavily on volunteers and their website makes signing up and creating a volunteer profile very straightforward.

Another well known local organization that seeks to disrupt the cycle of homelessness, and with volunteer opportunities, is Lydia Place.

Finally, the Road2Home program operates seasonal severe weather shelters for times when temperatures are forecast to dip below 28F.

The Bellingham shelters, located in the Civic Field Locker Rooms, rely on volunteers to help with every aspect of the operation.

Animal Related

As a culture, we are obsessed with our pets.

You can (should?) channel some of that obsession into a volunteer position with any one of the following organizations.

The Whatcom County Humane Society has a huge list of volunteer opportunities that you should read up on and understand the minimum requirements and time commitments.

Animals as Natural Therapy (ANT) focuses on youth and veterans in NW Washington, with a goal of improving mental and behavioral health through animal-guided programs.

ANT has an informative volunteer page where they encourage you to submit a volunteer interest form.

Finally, Brigadoon Service Dogs raises, trains, and provides service dogs for veterans, children, and adults with physical, developmental, and behavioral health challenges.

Brigadoon is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and relies heavily on volunteers like you!

Outdoors Related

It is highly likely that if you’re a resident of Whatcom County and a reader of this blog post, you’re also somewhat of an outdoor lover.

There are a number of outdoor stewardship volunteer opportunities you can take advantage of.

Are you a mountain biker and/or Galbraith Mountain lover?

Then consider volunteering with the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition and get involved in trail construction and maintenance, or ride-leading!

Thinking less of adventures sports and more of preserving native flora, fauna, and their habitat?

Volunteering with Whatcom Land Trust (WLT) might be for you!

WLT manages over 6,000 undeveloped acres through conservation easements and direct ownership.

The organization has multiple web pages with lots of information ranging from volunteer event types, to profiles of past volunteers, to their “adopt-a-property” land stewardship program.

Whatcom County Parks n Rec have their own volunteer programs with a range of possible outlets to show your support, from historical docent to farm animal care to gardening.

Sports Event Related

BNP Realtors sponsors a wide range of outdoor sporting events:

  • Lake Whatcom Triathlon
  • Bellingham SwimRun
  • Ski to Sea
  • Jr. Ski to Sea
  • Bellingham Traverse
  • Bellingham Off-Road Triathlon
  • Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race
  • Paddle for Food
  • Ride the Teal Wave for Ovarian Cancer
  • And others…

They ALL rely on volunteers.

And as someone who has participated in countless outdoor sports competitions over the years, I will wholeheartedly say that volunteering at these events is every bit as much fun as participating (and without the butterflies!)

You can get on the roster of many of the above events (and plenty of others) simply by registering on the volunteer page of Pacific Multisports.

Far and away the biggest local event, Ski to Sea — aka the Bellingham Olympics — is CRAZY reliant on hundreds and hundreds of volunteers!

As of this writing their 2023 volunteer page is not yet updated, but it will undoubtedly be at this link when it is.

Are you a sailor, kayaker, or passionate about boating in general?

Why not volunteer at the Community Boating Center, where they have a full page of different boating-related options to consider.

Is trail running your jam, but you’re not quite up for 30+ miles in one go?

How about signing up to help at the AWESOME Chuckanut 50K trail race, scheduled for March 18, 2023!?

Endless Opportunities

The information above is a mere sampling of the volunteer opportunities that exist here in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

There is so much need, and so much good to be derived from helping out.

If you’d like to join forces with me or BNP and hit any of the above together, email me, and let’s plan something!


Spread the word, share the stoke, and know that you have my full gratitude!