Blaine-based Community Assistance Program releases annual report

By Stefanie Donahue

Demand for services provided by the Community Assistance Program (CAP) in Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer and Point Roberts was strong in 2017, according to a presentation given by executive director and board president Dan DeMent to Blaine City Council on March 26.

Blaine-based CAP sponsors four main programs that provide social services to families in need. In his presentation, DeMent provided the following highlights about various aspects of the organization’s programs:

Crisis Assistance

Members of the public can receive crisis assistance from CAP by calling 360/392-8484.

The program helps residents resolve short-term, emergency needs for financial assistance, which always comes in the form of a voucher, not cash.

Historically, the nonprofit has paid for utility bills (if a shut-off is impending), critical prescription needs, grocery vouchers (if other assistance isn’t available), short-term emergency lodging and gasoline assistance.

In 2017, CAP provided the service to 209 people, down from 223 people in 2016.

“So, it’s down a little,” DeMent said to the council last week. “That’s not a bad thing.”

In 2017, a total 142 people required assistance with utilities; 44 with transportation; 23 with food; and 18 required additional referrals for needs related to housing, medical, dental, legal, counseling or other services.

Clothing Assistance

CAP provides free clothing, linens and bedding to people in need. The nonprofit operates a clothing bank on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Wednesdays, from 5 to 7 p.m. at 500 C Street. Clothing, linen and bedding donations are accepted year-round.

In 2017, a total 3,079 people visited the clothing bank, up from about 2,460 in 2016.

Each September, CAP also sponsors a coat drive to provide free coats, hats, gloves and socks to families with financial need. In 2017, 526 coats were distributed in addition to other clothing.

Community Meals

September through May, the community is invited to sit down for a meal sponsored by CAP.

Community meals are offered on Wednesdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Blaine Community Center at 763 G Street.

Meals are provided to the whole community by donation. Churches and other groups come together to cook the meals and serve them to the public.

“We fed a lot of people last year,” DeMent said.

In 2017, a total of 3,806 meals were served compared to about 1,900 people in 2016.

Thanksgiving Baskets

Each year, CAP provides ready-to-cook dinners to families that can’t afford a Thanksgiving meal.

Turkey, gravy, rolls, vegetables, stuffing and pies are included in the baskets, which are given to eligible families on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The annual program is funded by donation from Whatcom County residents, organizations and businesses.

In 2017, 289 families received baskets, including 689 children and 922 adults.

Other highlights

Approximately 329 volunteers provided 4,725 hours to service to the organization in 2017.

About 240 volunteers helped with the community meal program; 49 with the Thanksgiving meal program; 17 with the clothing bank; 14 with the coat drive; and 9 with crisis
assistance calls.

Last year, CAP received $48,041 in donations – the majority of which came from
individuals.

“CAP’s mission to love and help neighbors in times of need plays a unique and important role in the tapestry of help in our community,” said DeMent in the annual report.

In 2018, CAP aims to find a larger facility for the clothing bank, improve programs and expand services and complete the development of volunteer training materials and a program.

“This is phenomenal,” said city councilmember Eric Davidson. “I’m in awe about what you guys have accomplished.” Mayor Bonnie Onyon added, “This is very impressive.”

Learn more about CAP by calling 360/392-8484 or emailing info@blainecap.org.

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