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.
We offer 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).
The Opportunity Council is a private, non–profit human service organization that acts as a catalyst for positive change, both in the community and in the lives of the people it serves.
What is Community Action?
Acting as catalysts and 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: Stan Snapp
- Vice-President: Mamie Lackie
- Secretary: Ramona Menish
- Treasurer: Terry Greer
- Past President: Judi Edwards
- Officer At Large: Crystal Garvin (Head Start Policy Council Chair)
- Sue Breedlove
- Jill Johnson
- Steve Jones
- Ken Mann
- John Manning
- Lisa McShane
- Frank Parker
- Kim Schuster
Approximately 175 employees work at the Opportunity Council to bring services to people in Whatcom, Island and San Juan Counties.
- Executive Director: Dave Finet
- Associate Director: Sheri Burgler Emerson
- 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: Wade Gardner, Director
- Whatcom Homeless Service Center: Greg Winter, Director
- The Energy Project: Chuck Eberdt, Director