Support Officers Community Care of Whatcom County was created in 1982 by a local pastor and fire chief who recognized the need for personal outreach to individuals and families in times of tragedy and trauma. They recognized that no one is immune and crisis and that it can strike anyone at any time. The goal of this program is to care for all members of our community to help them cope and eventually thrive following a crisis.
The mission of Support Officers is to impact and influence the quality of life for families experiencing tragedy and trauma. We help those left grieving to understand what to expect in the days and months ahead following a crisis. We strive to provide care when an individual‘s normal psychological and biological coping mechanisms are threatened.
In our emergency response work, Support Officers create a support system around families, along with other support that ranges from housing and meal support, to counselor referrals, to helping with funeral arrangements, and funeral expenses, if needed. In addition, Support Officers engage in various partner agency referrals, as well as serving as a liaison for families with the local medical examiner, law enforcement agencies and hospitals.
Support Officers works in tandem with all first responders located in Whatcom County. In times of trauma, we provide important assistance to first responders in managing their personal stress triggered by critical incidents.
Support Officers has its specially trained civilian volunteers on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. Those who serve in Support Officers come from all walks of life. The organization responds to approximately 40 calls per month and total monthly volunteer hours regularly exceed 1,300 hours.
Support Officers Community Care of Whatcom County is a non-profit agency that offers its services free of charge, regardless of one‘s financial situation. The organization receives some funding from local police and fire departments, but not nearly enough to meet our expenses. Thus we rely heavily on individual and corporate donations. We have a volunteer board of directors who care about people in crisis and the first responders who work with them.
In addition to our hands-on response work, Support Officers has received thanks from people around the world for the helpful resources on grief we provide on our website.
Because of its important contributions to people in need in Whatcom County, Support Officers has been recognized a number of times by other non-profit agencies in the area. We were presented with the prestigious Peace Builder Non-Profit Award, by the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, in 2015; the Excellence in Community Partnership Award, by Life Center Northwest, in 2018; and the Outstanding Service Award, by the Bellingham Fire Department, in 2018.