School hosts Family Resource Fair for the community

More than 46 organizations set to participate

By Aly Siemion

The upcoming Family Resource Fair at the Blaine high school campus is expected to offer the community a bounty of valuable resources under one roof.

The event begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 5 in the Blaine High School cafeteria and will showcase numerous organizations, including the Blaine Senior Center and Whatcom Transit Authority.

Event co-organizer Jodi Greene said representatives from medical and mental health organizations in Whatcom County plan to attend. Pastors from local churches will also be present. Julie Butschli, who is helping co-organize the Family Resource Fair, said that she wants the event to be well-rounded and inclusive, with resources covering all aspects of life for all demographics of the community.

“This is who the school wants to be,” Butschli said, noting that the Blaine school district is a hub for the community.

At least 46 different organizations have committed to participating, including PeaceHealth Medical Group, Unity Care NW, Touchstone Health Clinic, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, Boys and Girls Club of Whatcom County, Scouts of America, Blaine Family Service Center, Blaine Police Department, Early Learning and Family Services and the Blaine Food Bank.

Both organizers want to make this a reoccurring event to ensure that the community is kept aware of the resources available in the area.

“I’m so excited for families to have the opportunity to communicate and directly connect with all these organizations and have the organizations connect with each other to fully support Blaine, Birch Bay and [Point Roberts] families,” Greene said.

The Family Resource Fair will feature two, 30-minute presentations that start at 5:15 p.m. They’ll be directed at parents of teenagers and soon-to-be teenagers. The first presentation will be given by Jamie Shannon, a Bellingham-based life coach for teens, and the second will be given by Kaatri Jones, Blaine high school’s mental health counselor, about suicide prevention.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers in Washington state, and third leading cause nationally. The Blaine school district is making suicide prevention a priority through the Family Resource Fair and their continued training of staff in the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program, which they began in August of this year.

Jamie Shannon’s presentation will focus on the tough topic of teens and social media and will leave parents with strategies and tools to help manage their teen online.

“Parents are very good at parenting in the real world, but they don’t know how to parent online,” she said.

The online world is a new “frontier with no adults where these kids are running wild and trying to figure out how to keep themselves alive,” she added.

Shannon maintains that parents need to “treat [social media] as something that’s not going to go away, and that means that we need to give kids the tools to be able to manage that effectively, keeping in mind that they’re still just kids.”

Shannon works with teen girls all over Whatcom County dealing with issues ranging from self-esteem and social media to interpersonal relationships to anxiety and depression.

For more information about her coaching practice and book visit, coachforteens.com.

During the event, pizza will be provided and there will be a free raffle and prizes offered to guests. Parking in the main lot off Boblett Street.

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