New Blaine program offers help and hope

By Stefanie Donahue

Beginning this week, all are welcome to participate in Roots, an outreach program that supports families coping with the aftermath of trauma.

The program was developed by the staff at Rebound, which launched as an independent nonprofit in 2006 to serve individuals with trauma backgrounds in Whatcom County. Through a variety of community programs, Rebound aims to foster growth and positive change for those who’ve experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and other forms of trauma. Roots began in Bellingham and serves hundreds every year. Wednesday, October 5 marked the first day the program expanded to Blaine.

Each Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Rebound will offer Roots programming to parents and children at Blaine Elementary School following the weekly Community Meals Program operated out of the Blaine Senior Center. At $50 per quarter, anyone can join in on a variety of engaging and educational opportunities.

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Lucas Goodwin, l., speaks to a crowd of 200 at a Rebound fundraiser in 2015. Photo by Danielle Goodwin.

Each week at Roots, parents and children are separated into groups. Parents are invited to participate in a sequential enrichment course led by trained facilitators with help from volunteers and sometimes participants from past programs. The courses cover topics about financial literacy, healthy living and parenting, just to name a few.

Kids are divided into three groups: pre-K/nursery, elementary and middle school. Program facilitators lead a variety of activities, including a discussion period where kids learn about making choices, dealing with family challenges and developing their emotional and social skills.

For Bellingham resident Danielle Goodwin, the program has been a breath of fresh air. In 2014, Goodwin fled her home and abusive partner to seek refuge in Bellingham for herself and three kids. Goodwin and her kids were homeless for eight months prior to  finding a home with the help of Lydia Place, a social services organization in Bellingham.

Roots has made a significant difference for Goodwin and her kids, she said. At Roots, she said, “you don’t feel alone.”

Goodwin has three children – Ella, 4, Dylan, 6 and Lucas, 8. Her oldest son Lucas suffers from PTSD due to abuse, she said. Often, Lucas struggles with after school care and Roots is one of the few places where he is comfortable and happy, she explained.

“It was Lucas’ first safe space,” she said. “They know how to deal with trauma.”

In fact, the Goodwins like the program so much, they’ve become local advocates. Last year, Lucas spoke in front of a crowd of 200 at a Rebound fundraiser, she said. He shared his story of abuse and the importance he places on the Roots program, she said. To say the least, she’s proud.

“Lucas says, ‘If you’re having trouble, they don’t leave you,’” she said. “For him to trust people, that’s big.”

Goodwin considers the program crucial in providing her and her kids with a community that is both supportive and knowledgeable about the issues they face on a daily basis. Beyond the courses, they’ve all been able to build trusting relationships with the program staff, she said.

Since moving to Bellingham, she’s been able to find a home, graduate with a degree in legal administration from Bellingham Technical College and become a part of Rebound’s tight knit community. “I’m so excited for [Roots] to be in Blaine,” she said. “This is such an important program.”

Rebound’s executive director Tyler Michel said the organization is still looking to recruit volunteers. Transportation will be provided from Bellingham. Volunteers can apply online or by fax, mail or email. “We’re really trying to empower kids,” he said. “It’s designed to be really supportive.”

To learn more about Rebound, visit reboundfamilies.org or call the office at 360/714-0700.

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