Who We Are
The Opportunity Council is a private, non-profit Community Action Agency serving homeless and low-income families and individuals. Our goal is to help people learn to become self-sufficient.
For 50 years we have offered a broad scope of services that range from addressing immediate and crisis-oriented needs (food, emergency shelter, eviction-prevention) to longer-term programs that promote self-sufficiency in our community (early childhood education, home weatherization).
Opportunity Council helps people improve their lives through education, support, and direct assistance while advocating for just and equitable communities.
What is Community Action?
Acting as leaders in organizing whatever is needed to build stronger communities, Community Action-based programs work with partners in our communities to address local emerging needs.
Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.
Check out the following web sites for more information about Community Action Agencies
- Washington Community Action Partnership, http://www.wapartnership.org
- National Community Action Partnership, http://www.communityactionpartnership.com
- National Community Action Foundation, http://www.ncaf.org
In 1965, the Opportunity Council began as a grassroots group of volunteers and staff, working with a borrowed typewriter and furniture out of a small corner in the Whatcom County Courthouse. This Community Action model was a product of the Economic Opportunity Act signed by President Lynden B. Johnson in 1964 to help low income people.
This radical new model allowed local groups, including people with low-income, to determine the best local use of federal block grant dollars. People were charged with creating local solutions to fight poverty in their own communities.
Today, the Opportunity Council continues to be a vital Community Action Agency, one of 1,000 Community Action Agencies nationwide. Our 175 full- and part-time employees serve over 18,000 people a year.
Our Board of Directors
Citizen participation is essential. The Opportunity Council, like all Community Action Agencies, is locally managed by a volunteer board of directors which includes equal representation of public officials, the private sector and people who are low-income.
- President: Steve Jones
- Vice President: Rick Hughes
- Secretary: Rebecca Boonstra
- Treasurer: Paul Stermer
- At Large: Mark Tompkins
- Past President: Mamie Lackie
- April Barker
- Christianna Clinton
- Heather Flaherty
- Sandy John
- Ramona Menish
- Katrice Romero
- Carl Weimer
- Marcie Germain Camire – ELAFS Policy Council Chair
Approximately 240 employees work at the Opportunity Council to bring services to people in Whatcom, Island and San Juan Counties.
- Community Services and Energy Services: Debbie Paton, Director
- Early Learning and Family Services: David Webster, Director
- Island County Opportunity Council: Lisa Clark, Director
- Home Improvement: John Davies, Director
- Whatcom Homeless Service Center: Mike Parker, Director
- The Energy Project: Shawn Collins, Director