VISTA AmeriCorps Child Youth/Mental Health Focus

VISTA AmeriCorps Child Youth/Mental Health Focus

Applications are only received via the AmeriCorps website. To apply, click here:

Whatcom Family & Community Network is seeking candidates with a positive, growth mindset, a relationship-orientation and a passion to improve child & youth mental health promotion, prevention and programs in Whatcom County. This is a June 2022 to June 2023 position. This professional development position will build skills in networking, facilitation, collaboration, project planning, grant seeking and program development and support.

Please share broadly and with specific individuals who you believe would both benefit and contribute.
The link below provides more details on the position and how to apply.

Candidates apply on line via the AmeriCorps system. The Opportunity Council is involved with selection, placement and oversight of candidate experience and support locally. WFCN is the placement site, that provides supervision for the specific day to day work.

Please click the link below for more information.

Job Opening: Youth Mental Wellbeing Program Coordinator

Title: Youth Mental Wellbeing Program Coordinator

FTE/Status: .8 to 1 FTE (32-40 hr/wk) depending on funding and number of hires, up to two positions available.
Start Date: Open Until Filled with March 1, 2022 as a goal
Hours:  Mostly between Mon. to Fri.  8 to 5 p.m.  Some weekends and evenings.
Reports to: Prevention Program Manager
To Apply: Send cover letter, resume and three professional references (including name, title, phone number and email contact) to
Compensation: Starting Range: $23 to $25


  • Coordinate all aspects of a sustainable youth mental wellbeing program, including youth suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
  • Promote healthy youth development by developing and promoting youth leadership opportunities, community and mental health promotion messages, and applying trauma-informed, hope raising and resilience building frameworks and practices.
  • Deliver and strengthen the M.A.D.-H.O.P.E. Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Wellbeing Training Curriculum, using peer to peer strategies.  Expand capacity for implementation by developing and implementing a Train-the-Trainer model.
  • Lead and support the M.A.D.-H.O.P.E. planning team and youth advisory groups or clubs that develop.
  • Cultivate and convene strategic partnerships to create or strengthen program sustainability.
  • Increase youth & adult leadership and engagement in M.A.D.-H.O.P.E. and other mental wellbeing strategies, including the youth-led Trusted Adult Campaign & Workshops and collaborations like ”Let’s Chalk About It” or “VolunTeen” summer programs.   
  • Participate in program development, including identifying and procuring resources.
  • Develop strong volunteer base of trainers and project leads, especially youth.
  • Supervise AmeriCorps members, interns and/or volunteers.
  • Provide program outreach and community awareness activities, including social media.
  • Collect, analyze, disseminate and report on program data. 
  • Provide research and leadership in recognizing and addressing the disproportionate impact of suicide on LGBTQ+, Native American, Latinx, Rural and BIPOC youth and delivering youth suicide prevention within a social justice framework.


  • Apply advanced organizational and relational and team building skills to develop diverse, strong, trust-based relationships/partnerships/collaborations and to navigate and streamline systems to work with others within systems or develop systems to advance goals.
  • Learn and apply contemporary prevention science theory and strategies to develop and implement quality youth-centered mental wellbeing and suicide prevention programming.
  • Work positively with youth and young adults as valued team members and leaders. Recruit, train, schedule, manage and support volunteers to present M.A.D.-H.O.P.E. workshops and lead other prevention strategies, includes high school and college aged students/interns and adult community members.  Supervise interns, volunteers and others.
  • Demonstrate strong communication, networking, presentation and facilitation skills—awareness of body and spoken language. Use visual aids. Bilingual skills a plus! Present curriculum in high school and middle school classrooms. Develop materials (i.e. curriculum & volunteer manuals).
  • Provide regular face-to-face, e-mail and phone contact with many sector representatives, including county-wide school systems, parents, youth and young adults. Ability to communicate and raise community awareness of youth suicide through social media, Facebook, webpage, etc. and positive social norming.  Outreach to existing and potential clubs and partners.
  • Advanced computing in MS Office applications and other presentation and desktop publishing applications. Creation of forms, flyers, spreadsheets; use of and reporting of data; development of training and guidance materials. Able to learn new technology skills.
  • Assess, evaluate and report on programmatic and operational information as required.
  • Strong problem-solving ability.  Calm under pressure. Strong emotional self-regulation.
  • Demonstrate cultural competency. Work with diverse populations. Value equity & social justice.
  • Positive attitude. Persistent character with understanding and value of a strength-based, abundance perspective and trauma-informed practice.


  • Administrative tasks—e-mailing, phone work, filing, copying, data entry and reporting as relevant to WFCN need and project assignment.
  • Attend Whatcom Prevention Coalition Meetings; Some weekend and evening events.
  • Scheduling and logistics for trainings, community meetings, outreach opportunities, & events.
  • Attend relevant trainings.
  • Seek funding opportunities through networking and research.


  • 2 years experience, successfully and passionately coordinating youth-centered programs; promoting healthy youth development in school systems or youth serving organizations.
  • 1 year experience with youth suicide prevention or related health
  • 1 year experience with data collection and analysis.
  • 1 year experience in well-being promotion.
  • Demonstrated experience in presenting and training.
  • Demonstrated understanding of diversity, inclusion and equity issues in serving youth.
  • Preferred: Bachelor’s Degree in related field or equivalent professional experience.
  • Preferred: Experience working in a middle school/high school setting.
  • Preferred:  Bi-lingual and bi-cultural in Spanish.
  • Candidates lived experience aligned with populations of focus highly encouraged to apply.


  • Starting range: $23 to $25/hour
  • Value work life balance and promote wellbeing. Flexible scheduling aligned with needs of the project.
  • Prorated Health/Dental benefits with FTE. .8 FTE is considered full time and is covered at 100%. Mileage reimbursement for approved travel for business purposes. Generous Paid-Time Off, Bereavement and 11 Holidays
  • Professional development, resume building, professional recommendations.

Whatcom Family & Community Network is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.  Candidates with lived experience aligned with populations of focus are highly encouraged to apply.

To Apply: Send cover letter, resume and three professional references (including name, title, phone number and email contact) to

Danita Washington

Danita Washington

2021 Legacy Award Recipient

“How you have walked amongst your people tells it all”, explained Danita Washington in an “Art of Aging” interview.  She shares wise words spoken to her by her grandparents.  This Legacy Award honors her for how she has walked amongst her people to build community, to leverage resources for the benefit of children and families, and to uplift culture and the honorable Lummi nation way of life.

Danita Washington, whose native name is “Ce Leeia” is a respected elder for the Lummi nation, a family leader and a lifetime advocate for the health and well-being of families.

In her life’s work, she was a police officer, a youth outreach coordinator, a founding member of the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and a key member of Lummi’s community mobilization against drugs, which resulted in the establishment of the Lummi Safe House, the Youth Treatment Center, and the Lummi Youth Academy.

She was the co-producer of two locally produced stage productions by Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

In an October 12 podcast of “Young and Indigenous”, Danita elevates the important role of parenting and messages we can choose to give children.  She says, we have power to remind our children all the time, “you are worthy—since the day you were born.”

Parenting and family are close to Danita’s heart.  She has mothered her siblings from a young age, as the eldest child in a large family of 9 full brothers and sisters and 2 half siblings.  She is a parent to her own grown children and an active part of her grandchildren’s lives. 

Parenting is an important job and safety is critical—not only physical safety, but spiritual safety.  You want to protect the sensitive spirit of the child and consider what they may “brush up against.”  The nature of her walk in community is about protection, caring and understanding what children and families are “brushing up against.”  She hopes for parents to have access to what they need to give children the attention they need and to keep families together.

Danita is described as “the heart and soul of what’s good in our community”, and she remains active in Positive Indian Parenting, supporting Lummi victims of crime, and serving as a board member of Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

Danita implores us to slow down, live with balance and moderation and to take the time to connect with one another, with children—our own and those in our community.  Experience one another, laugh, listen, walk—provide opportunities to the children “with good, loving support” so they can find their way to the lives they deserve.   

It is our honor to recognize Danita with the 2021 Legacy Award.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Danita is recognized, click here.

Connected! Young Influencers: Jazmin Carpenter, Wil Henkel, Kiera Hillaire, and Oliver Trulock

Connected! Young Influencers:
Jazmin Carpenter, Wil Henkel, Kiera Hillaire, and Oliver Trulock

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

Our final recipients of the evening are all young adults, whose efforts across two years inspired and taught a nation, as well as our organization about the importance of youth engagement in peer focused mental well-being efforts.

Each of these individuals has their own journey of pain and triumph that united them as champions for youth mental wellbeing.

Kiera’s passion focused on bullying and cyberbullying. Her work is used with the Lummi Behavioral Health Programs, and she has presented a seminar on the issue.

As high schoolers, Oliver and Wil initiated the peer centered support (PCS) and peer centered outreach (PCO) model, which in 2021 has been adopted across all Bellingham high schools; and activated change in the school community.

Jazmin, knowing the impact of losing a loved one to death by suicide, is one of the longest-standing volunteers with the MAD HOPE youth suicide and mental wellbeing program.

Bringing their stories and strengths, they united in the Connected! Project, a nation-wide effort hosted by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, the nation’s premier mental health and substance use recovery association. The larger aim was to explore and learn how youth engagement can positively make change to address and destigmatize mental health.  As “young influencers” they represented diverse efforts happening in Whatcom County and emerged new strategies to promote youth engagement in peer mental well-being.

The team developed the local trusted adult campaign, which included a youth art contest, trusted adult e-card campaign, youth-led trusted adult workshops, social media outreach and a bus ad campaign to promote the role of trusted adults in the lives of youth.

The team strategized about the importance of creative outlets such as art, music, and poetry for youth to metabolize their pressure, stress and big emotions. 

The concept of a zine was developed and brought to fruition by other youth recruited to engage in the broader effort.  While Covid-19 thwarted big plans—concerts, gaming tournaments, etc., but instead “let’s chalk about it” art efforts and outreach through neighborhood “little libraries” emerged.

As Covid forced an online format shift, the young influencers improved the MAD HOPE youth suicide prevention curriculum. This focused on increasing inclusion of cultures for populations with higher health disparity regarding suicidal thinking and action. 

The overall experience was rare, but if expanded and sustained, the model to grow youth engagement, increase youth leadership and save lives is boundless.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Oliver, Kiera, Jazmin and Wil are recognized, click here.

Margaret Gibson

Margaret Gibson

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

Skate parks can be places that many adults pass without giving much thought to, much less engaging with the skaters and other youth who frequent them. But not our next awardee. Margaret Gibson not only engaged with the skate park crowd but set out to gain their trust by fulfilling their physical and emotional needs through familiarity and relationship continuity.

Early in the COVID pandemic, Blaine schools were meeting in-person for half days. While walking her dog, Margaret noticed that a number of students went directly from school to the skate park to hang out . As she spoke with the kids, many of whom she knew from her 23 years as a K to 12 school nurse in the Blaine district, they indicated that they were hungry since lunch was not served when school was a half day.

And so, Margaret began a regular routine. A few times each week she picks up food and drinks donated from the Blaine Food Bank and drives to the skate park with her newfoundland dog, Willow, where she is greeted enthusiastically with hugs and curiosity about what treasures she has brought for the skaters that day.

While she encourages them to eat, she inquiries about who they are and what and how they are doing. Margaret listens to their stories with genuine care about their well-being, celebrating who they are and encouraging them. She creates a space for youth at the skate park to know that there are trusted adults in the community, like her, that really listen and see them.

Thank you, Margaret, for your concern and care for the youth of Blaine.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Margaret is recognized, click here.

Generations Forward Family Council

Generations Forward Family Council

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

Generations Forward Family Council’s vision is to create a community where every family can truly thrive.  They feel that their goal will be reached when families of color are welcomed and supported, tribal sovereignty is respected and protected, single parents and non-traditional families have the resources they need, and all children have safe housing, appropriate childcare, healthcare, and accessible education.  They have focused on presenting platforms and forums to connect community members and allow them to have their voices heard. 

The Family Council is comprised of champions. Each family champion does their own distinct work within the organization connected to their personal passions.  Champions may create family support networks, facilitate family councils, lead anti-racist community calls, and offer community gatherings and resource sharing opportunities.

Additionally, some family council champions also serve as subject matter experts, act as points of contact for working with government organizations, and/or serve on the Child and Wellbeing Task Force.  They also unite the community through “Community Spotlight”, short podcasts that interview a member of the community to share quick and useful information for Whatcom County parents of young children, ages 0-7.

Using a program called “Unhappy Hour”, former family champion, now alumni member, Monica Kohler, has gathered family council members to voice their opinions on issues such as childcare.  These Unhappy Hour sessions are recorded and shared in an opportunity to reach people in an authentic way.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Generations Forward Family Council is recognized, click here.

NWIC Center for Health Native Connections Program

Northwest Indian College Center for Health
Native Connections Program

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

The Northwest Indian College Center for Health, Native Connections Program conducted research to identify 24 coast-Salish “protective factors” that span across 4 themes: family, individual, spirituality, and community. They use those protective factors as the keystone for their strength-based prevention programs to provide health and wellness options to members of the local community, specifically youth.

These programs include suicide prevention, drug and substance abuse prevention, and events such as the annual “walking with our ancestors” program. Over the years, walking with our ancestors has grown through partnerships with the Lummi Culture Department and Summer Youth Program to include 60 community youth visiting Orcas Island. At this youth gathering event, local native facilitators communicate through storytelling and teaching “schelangen” meaning ‘our way of life’. Additionally, youth and program partners engaged in a cultural history program about clam digging and the history of the water and its provisions as a protective factor.

Through grants, the Center for Health supports many native programs focused on Lummi Nation and provides some support to Swinomish and Upper Skagit nations.

We are honored to recognize the Northwest Indian College Center for Health, Native Connections Program for their strength-based and care-focused efforts.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which the NWIC Center for Health, Native Connections Program is recognized, click here.

Lee Anne Riddle

Lee Anne Riddle

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

Lee Anne is receiving a Community Building Award to recognize her efforts to improve education locally and statewide. She has served on the Ferndale School Board for 16 years and on the Board of the Washington State School Directors Association for 6 years.

Lee Anne quickly acknowledged that the accomplishments of the Ferndale School Board requires many hands, hearts and minds—she is grateful for so many others walking with her in the work.

This award recognizes Lee Anne as a driving force in many of the district’s accomplishments, including free full-time kindergarten for all students; district provided school supplies for all K-5 students; and implementation of a broad-based equity team. For several years, she purchased surplus books from the school system to make them available to children and families.

The person who nominated Lee Anne for a Community Building Award shared that, “serving on a school board is a mostly thankless job. Nights away from family, reams of reports to read and study, angry emails and phone calls from constituents. All for no monetary compensation. But serving on a school board is also critically important. That’s why we need to celebrate those, like Lee Anne, who do serve, who believe a commitment to the children and youth of the community, along with a sincere desire to be a voice for fellow citizens, outweighs the sacrifices.”

Thank you for your service, Lee Anne

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Lee Anne is recognized, click here.

Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

We know that caring for the youngest members of our community is of the utmost importance, and you’ll see that exemplified in our first recipient tonight, Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center.

Neuroscience and Adverse Childhood Experiences research shows the importance of the first five years of a child’s life in regards to the development of their overall wellbeing. For many families, a critical piece of the puzzle in supporting their young ones is childcare. Access to affordable and quality childcare can be a significant barrier.

Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center is a NAEYC accredited facility that fosters educational growth through loving and nurturing interactions with children. Teachers strive to deeply connect with parents or guardians as they are the child’s first teacher. They provide a tuition assistance program for families that do not qualify for childcare subsidy through other entities. Throughout the pandemic, they have been able to keep small classrooms open with a safe environment, as well as remain staffed with both new and seasoned teachers.

In addition to small classroom ratios and their communication style, what makes The Center distinct, is their flexible and accessible parent education and family engagement program. It provides several ways for parents to connect, support each other and learn together. It offers opportunities for parents to build supportive relationships with one another and to develop skills to better advocate for themselves and their children.

We are proud to honor Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center is recognized, click here.

Meghan Lever

Meghan Lever

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

Meghan, served as Prevention Intervention Specialist at Sehome High School for 4 years. She provided support to teens impacted by substance use and advised a prevention club that elevated student voices and vulnerability around wellbeing issues faced by teens.

With her guidance a club model called peer centered support (PCS) and peer centered outreach (PCO) developed, which in 2021 has been adopted across all Bellingham high schools. The club, “allows students to be as profound and creative as possible” and influence community in school by opening up dialog and demonstrating healthy vulnerability on tough issues like sexual consent, body image, substance use, and suicidal thinking.

Meghan’s role helped students bring their ideas to fruition and navigate systems. With her guidance, students hosted an event where parents could talk to teens thoughtfully on serious issues; students reviewed district health curriculum and created video content to strengthen areas that did not address real concerns of their peers; they convinced admin to change a day’s schedule to ensure all students could attend assemblies on the issue of consent and leveraged the PTA to fund a national speaker for the day. And all teaching staff and student leaders were prepared to offer debrief discussions.

Community Builders are trusted adults who have a way of making our community safer for youth. Thank you, Meghan.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Meghan is recognized, click here.