Help for Hard Times


Washington Connection

Answer a few questions and find out what services are available to you from a broad range of federal, state and local resources. Through a secure personal account on the site, you can even apply online for some benefits such as cash, food and medical assistance, child care, long-term care, and drug and alcohol treatment.


If it’s a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.

North Sound 2-1-1

2-1-1 is the free, easy-to-remember telephone number that’s your best “first call” to quickly find the right source of help. The central information line is staffed by trained operators who can connect you to a wide range of community services. This United Way supported program is run by the Volunteers of America Western Washington.

Dial 2-1-1 to connect to resources. Trained specialists answer your call and maintain a comprehensive database of health, welfare and recreation resources such as:

  • Rent/Utility Assistance
  • Food
  • Legal Assistance
  • Shelter
  • Support Groups, and more
The North Sound 2-1-1 line is open
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Phone: 425.258.4227 or 800.223.8145 
TTY: 425.339.3301 or 1.800.846.8517
CARE Crisis Response Line
24-hour crisis intervention counseling, suicide intervention and access to mental health emergency services for individuals and families in Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Island and Whatcom Counties. This program is run by the Volunteers of America Western Washington.
Phone: 425.258.4357 or 800.584.3578
TTY: 800.846.8517



Unemployment Compensation
Phone: 800.318.6022 or 877.558.8509
or apply online at


Worksource Washington
A joint venture of employment and training organizations dedicated to addressing businesses need for workers and job seekers success in obtaining family-wage jobs. The WorkSource Career Center is a one-stop access point for job opportunities,  occupational skill training, career exploration, job search training, and many other services. 

Phone: 360.676.1521

State Worker Retraining Program
The State Worker Retraining Program has served more than 60,000 unemployed and dislocated workers in Washington to retrain into new career fields. Funds can help pay for tuition, books, fees and other related expenses for individuals who lost their jobs due to economic changes and for those receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Worker Retraining also serves displaced homemakers and recently discharged veterans.

Bellingham Technical College
Phone: 360.752.8492
Whatcom Community College
Contact: Brian J. Davidson
Worker Retraining Coordinator
Phone: 360.383.3057
Statewide Training Opportunities
Matrix of professional-technical programs



Whatcom County Love INC (In the name of Christ)
Provides a self-help program designed to help people find their way out of financial difficulties and into a debt-free way of living.
Phone: 360.671.6201

Whatcom Financial Services
Provides a service in which they receive your monthly checks, maintain accounts, and disburse funds to meet your monthly living expenses.
Phone: 360.676.1848

The Simple Dollar
Helps people break free from debt and get on the road to financial independence with a variety of tips and tools like the Dept Payoff Calculator


Salvation Army
Rent payment assistance for Whatcom County residents facing an eviction.
Phone: 360.733.1410

Opportunity Council
Eviction prevention and deposit assistance. Please call for specific eligibility quidelines.
Phone: 360.734.5121 x370


The Opportunity Council
Program helps eligible households pay heating and energy expenses.
Phone: 360.255.2192

Salvation Army
The energy assistance program runs from January-May, however, residents with a medical emergency who are in danger of getting their utilities shut off, can call for help anytime of the year.
Phone: 360.733.1410


Call 2-1-1 for the closest food bank.

Bellingham Food Bank
Food distribution Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:30-3:00 and Wednesday 5:00-7:00.
Phone: (360) 676-0392

Basic Food Benefits
For more information or to apply online, visit and click on "apply for services."
Phone: 877.514.FOOD
For help completing an application call Opportunity Council at 360.734.5121

Whatcom County Health Department
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program
Phone: 360.676.6724


Medical Assistance Benefits

For more information or to apply online, visit
and click on "apply for services."
Community clinic that provides medical, dental, and behavioral health care services.
Phone: 360.734.2983 or 360.676.6177
Sea Mar Community Health Center
Provides low-cost comprehensive medical, dental, substance abuse, and mental health services to underserved and low-income people. Bellingham and Everson Sites 
Phone: 360.671.3225
Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement
WAHA provides impartial information and assistance to individuals seeking health insurance and access to healthcare in Whatcom County. 
Phone: 360.788.6594


Call 2-1-1 for information on locations and hours.
Interfaith Coalition’s Cold Weather Shelters for this winter will be open when temperatures are below freezing, or a combo of extreme wind or snow:
Women’s Shelter - Garden St Methodist Church on the corner of N. Garden and Magnolia
Men’s Shelter - Faith Lutheran on Northwest Ave and I-5
Both are open at 5pm until 8am the next day
Transportation from certain organizations like The Rainbow Center, the Lighthouse Mission, and others will be provided to these shelters.
Cold weather shelter hotline: 360-788-7983
Interfaith Coalition Office number: 360-734-3983


Call 2-1-1 for support groups.

CARE Crisis Response Line
24-hour crisis intervention counseling, suicide intervention and access to mental health emergency services for individuals and families in Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Island and Whatcom Counties. This program is run by the Volunteers of America Western Washington.

Phone: 800.584.3578
TTY: 800.846.8517
Alcohol & Drug Helpline 
Phone: 800.562.1240
Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone: 360.715.1563 or 877.715.1563


WorkSource Northwest
Employment Related Assistance for veterans.
Phone: 360.676.1521
DAV Transportation Network
Transportation to medical care for veterans who have no other form of transportation available 
Phone: 360.322.2200
Vietnam Veterans of America #165
Vet Center Claims assistance, mental health counseling for combat veterans.
Phone: 360.733.9226
Veterans Relief Fund and Service Office
VA claims, family benefits, rent, utilities, food, medical
Phone: 360.676.6700


Opportunity Council
Child Care Resource and Referral
Phone: 360.734.5121 ext 227
Working Connections Child Care
For more information or to apply online,
and click on "apply for services.


Northwest Regional Council
Respite Care
Phone: 360.676.6749


Salvation Army
Low Income Food Baskets & Gift Assistance
Applications taken at:
2912 Northwest Avenue
Bellingham, WA 
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Phone: 360.733.1410
For more information, click here.
Due to limited resources, the Salvation Army has a three-year limit. If you have been assisted for three years with the Salvation Army, you will have to find other resources. The Salvation Army would also like clients to have a referral from one of the agencies they are working with. 
What you need to bring:
1. Identification and Social Security Card, or medical card. 
2. Last three months income verification for the whole household: paycheck stubs, DSHS award letters, SSI award letters or a letter from your employer. 
3. Identification for all other members of the household. You will need Social Security Cards, Medical Cards, or Birth Certificates. 
4. Two pieces of address verification: Current utility bills, rent receipts or current rental agreement; and a phone number. 
5. Salvation Army only provides gifts for children ages 0-14. Please know their interests and sizes of clothing and have the list with you when you come. (Example Kenny, age 6, Book-Power Rangers, Coat size 8, Pants size 6, shirt size Med or 6-8, Shoes size 2). Salvation Army will not take information on items over $25.
Take Charge of Your Finances

1. Prepare a household budget

2. List assets

3. Set priorities

4. Make a list of creditors

5. Notify your creditors

6. Pay what you can

7. Stay in touch with creditors

8. Stop credit purchases

9. Reduce household expenses

10. Sell what you don’t need

11. Check into other financial resources

Important: Don’t Ignore Your Mail!

Ignoring government agency inquiries or creditor requests for information may make things worse. If you don’t understand notices or bills sent to you, call the person who sent the bill.
Get the Help You Need... You’ve Earned It
You help pay for public programs through your taxes and for community services through contributions to United Way and other organizations. Now your money can work for you. Help comes from an array of services ranging from support such as individual or family counseling to practical support like help with finances.
We all need a little help at some time in our lives. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for the help you need. You paid for it. You earned it.
Getting Through It Together
Your spouse and children can feel helpless. Talk to your family and plan together to deal with problems. It helps to give each member of the family some positive steps they can take to help. By sharing the burden and pulling together, families can grow closer.
Things to do
First, explore your unemployment and WorkSource options and benefits. Some may be time sensitive. Then, stay busy.
If you’re temporarily out of work, keep yourself occupied. This is a good time to do all the things you’ve been putting off: fix the faucets, give your car a tune-up, clean out the garage, visit friends and relatives or take a community class.
Check your local newspaper for a list of activities, many of which are free. You can also check with your local recreation department, city or county website, library, community center or college.
Volunteering is a particularly rewarding way to use your time, even for a short period.


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