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.

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.

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.

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.


Hope Centered and Trauma Informed – Learn how you can build hope for yourself and others!

DATE: May 25, 2021
TIME: 12:00PM—4:00PM
LOCATION: Virtual Event

Hope is real, hope is measurable, and hope is malleable. Youth who demonstrate higher hope:

  • Do better in school
  • Report less substance use
  • Experience less anxiety and depression

Learn how motivation and pathways are keys to achieving goals and experiencing a better life.

Featuring: Dr. Chan Hellman
Chan Hellman, Ph.D., is a professor, quantitative psychologist, and the Director of The Hope Research Center at the University of Oklahoma. He has studied hope and resilience for more than 15 years.

The sponsors have made this event FREE for you.
Register at

Continuing Education Units and Clock Hours are available (pending approval). For questions, please contact

Job Openings: Diversity & Inclusion VISTA Summer Associate Positions

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

Whatcom Family & Community Network (WFCN) builds community capacity so children, youth and families thrive. We envision a thriving community built on equity, social connection, participation and opportunities. This program emphasizes outreach to invite and engage BIPOC, LGBTQ and Rural communities to participate in opportunities that will increase equity through diverse voice and contributions to community processes aimed to strengthen community health broadly and specifically to prevent substance use for youth, and increase mental wellbeing for children and adolescents. Promote volunteer, stipend and paid opportunities to increase inclusion in decision-making important to the diverse needs of our community.

Member Duties: Collect and Create Outreach Materials from Coalition and Community Partners on Opportunities seeking to increase diverse voice in decision-making processes. Plan, coordinate and implement a system to engage with BIPOC, LGBTQ and Rural communities, that includes community pop-up stations using safe social distancing protocols. Outreach to and engage with interested community members. Ask them to consider participation and sharing of information with those they know. Follow up with contacts and provide pathways to future participation. Document contacts with interested community members. Evaluate effectiveness of outreach strategies. Report and make recommendations to program for next steps.

Program Benefits : Stipend , Training , Choice of Education Award or End of Service Stipend .

*For details about AmeriCorps VISTA healthcare benefits, please visit

Terms: Permits attendance at school during off hours , Permits working at another job during off hours , Car recommended .

Service Areas: Community and Economic Development , Community Outreach , Education , Neighborhood Revitalization , Tribal , Public Safety , Hunger , Children/Youth , Health .

Skills: Team Work , Public Health , Community Organization , Computers/Technology , Public Speaking , Social Services , Communications , Writing/Editing.

To apply, visit:

Summer VISTAs get the following benefits: 

  • Living Allowance Stipend of about $1,025/mo. 
  • Eligibility for Basic Food Benefits 
  • Loan Forbearance or Deferment 
  • End of Year Service Award of about $275 OR Education Award of about $1300 
  • Valuable work experience 
  • Priority consideration for local yearlong VISTA positions starting the end of August 

Most Washington teens reject alcohol and other drugs

Most Washington teens reject alcohol and other drugs

Healthy Youth Survey explores attitudes and behaviors of middle and high school students

Contact: Kelly Stowe • Department of Social and Health Services • 360-902-7739 •

OLYMPIA-Results for the 2016 Washington Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) show that teen rates of substance use in our state have remained mostly unchanged since the last survey was taken in 2014, and that most teens avoid alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs.

“The health, safety and economic impacts of substance use disorders affect many individuals, families and communities in our state, and a wide range of organizations at all levels are partnering to prevent them,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “A big thank you goes out to all of the students who took time out of their busy school days to take the Healthy Youth Survey. This survey provides crucial information on adolescent health, behaviors and perceptions. It helps us in making the right decisions to ensure that the next generation is the Healthiest Next Generation.”

The HYS is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12, who voluntarily answer a wide variety of questions about their health behaviors. In the fall of 2016, over 230,000 students in over 1,000 schools from 236 school districts in all 39 counties took part. The survey provides state and community organizations with needed information about which teen health issues to focus on.

One of the concerning changes since the last survey is that the percentage of 8th graders who believe there is great risk in using marijuana has declined from 53 to 48 percent. Since marijuana is now more visible in communities with advertising and retail stores, state and community organizations and schools have increased education and prevention efforts to discourage underage use. These efforts may be helping to prevent an increase in use, with 17 percent of 10th graders reporting use in the past month, which has not changed since 2014.

Preventing underage drinking has long been a statewide priority, and alcohol use by 10th graders has dropped by 12 percentage points since 2006. However, the number of students who use alcohol has not changed since 2014. In 2016, one out of five 10th graders (a total of about 16,737 students) drank alcohol in the past month. Alcohol plays a significant role in all three leading causes of death among youth: injuries, suicides and homicides.

The number of teens who said they drove a car after using alcohol or marijuana is cause for alarm. More than half (51 percent) of the 12th graders who reported marijuana use in the past 30 days said they had driven within three hours of using marijuana.

E-cigarette/vapor product use significantly dropped from 2014 to 2016, but remains a concern because of its prevalence and association with other tobacco and substance use. E-cigarette use in the past month among 10th graders dropped from 18 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2016. Over twice as many 10th graders reported vaping (13 percent) as smoking cigarettes (6 percent), and 65 percent of 10th graders who vaped reported using marijuana.

“Growing up is difficult. The issues facing our youth today are big and have serious life consequences. Parents, teachers and agencies all help guide youth when facing these challenges” said Pat Lashway, Acting Secretary for DSHS. “This information will help the ’helpers’ drive home the true impact of drugs on the young developing brains before it’s too late.” Because the teen brain is still developing, alcohol and other drug use can cause more severe and permanent damage compared to those who start using at age 21 and older. National data identifies the risks such as poor grades and not graduating, due to problems with memory and concentration; serious injuries and death from driving under the influence; unwanted and/or unplanned sexual activity; addiction; depression and anxiety with long-term use.

Parents and guardians are the number one influence on children’s decisions about alcohol and other drugs. All adults can help teens avoid the negative consequences of substance use by talking with them early and often about the risks, locking up any alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs in the home, reminding them that most of their peers are making healthy choices, and having clear rules and consequences to discourage use. Visit for proven tips on how to talk, monitor and bond with teens. For more information about the survey, including other results and fact sheets, visit the HYS website.

Washington state is recognized nationally as a leader in supporting evidence-based prevention practices and collaborating with community-based prevention organizations. Survey results for mental health, nutrition, physical activity and school engagement will be analyzed and released over the next few months.

The survey is a collaborative effort between DSHS and the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). The results provide state and local organizations with needed information to plan, implement and evaluate publicly funded programs.