Submitted by: Lydia Place

Every adventure requires a first step and, in this case, a handbag and a ticket, too! On Thursday June 7, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Lydia Place, along with lead sponsors Whatcom County Association of Realtors (WCAR) and Barkley Village present the 6th annual Handbags for Housing at the new Barkley Village Green. Formerly held at Bellingham’s Depot Market Square, Handbags for Housing makes the move to the Barkley Village after years of steadily increased attendance and a desire to add additional beauty and fashion activities for guests. With an Alice in Wonderland theme, and a Mad Hatter in the fashion show-judging circle, Handbags for Housing gets more curiously fabulous every year. All proceeds from Handbags for Housing benefit Lydia Place, a local non-profit agency working to disrupt the cycle of homelessness for current and future generations. Tickets, sponsorship and purse donation details available at handbagsforhousing.com

Fashionable and fun, Handbags for Housing is known as THE purse (and more) function of the year. Already overflowing tables of bags swell to into hundreds as attendees arrive with their purse donations, making this the largest purse sale in the Pacific Northwest under one roof. From designer brands, to quirky painted flamingo baskets, there truly is something for every palate. In addition to the bagged up excitement at the bazaar, this year the fashion extravaganza pumps up the volume with a complimentary Beauty Bar presented by Haggen featuring local makeup artisans from Vivaluxx School of Makeup Art, massages from The Shanti Center and hair services from Salon Bellisima, delicious drinks curated by local cocktail artisans in the CSS Communications Cocktail and Wine Lounge, mouthwatering appetizers from Crave Catering, a live designer-purse auction and fashion show presented by Labels Women’s Consignment featuring over 15 local retailers and a judging panel of local Belle-brities including last year’s Handbags for Housing Fashion Show Winner Justin Yau-Luu, Lisa Karlberg of Bellingham Alive Magazine, Emily O’Connor of Lydia Place, Neal Swanson of Barkley Village, Mimi Osterdahl of Whatcom County Association of Realtors and Sarah Rorvig of Vivaluxx School of Makeup Art.

It takes a village to disrupt the cycle of homelessness. In this case, Barkley Village.  The Barkley Group/ Barkley Village emerged as a potential host after witnessing the success and impact of the annual fashion and philanthropy event at its former location, but also felt the space and location could be improved with access to parking and a singular venue. With the support of longtime event presenting sponsors Whatcom County Association of Realtors and Labels Women’s Consignment, Lydia Place hopes that this move will take Handbags for Housing to the next level, and raise additional critical funding for expansion of housing and supportive service programs that currently serve over 400 households annually.

Handbags for Housing was conceived by Lydia Place Executive Director Emily O’Connor in 2013 after being asked to add an event that was new and fresh to the Lydia Place annual fundraising calendar. She shared,  “Only in my dreams did I imagine this once little event would grow to one-day welcome over 700 friends in our community who support and champion the Lydia Place mission. Yet, every year Handbags for Housing has outgrown its physical footprint, and pushed us to find new creative solutions to house all that wished to attend (something we also experience in our daily work at Lydia Place). Expansion into the parking lot allowed us a certain amount of space, but we always knew there would come a time that we would need to find a new home for this beloved event. This year we are excited to find a venue at the Barkley Village Green, and partners that champion this energetic and fashion focused gathering – showcasing layer after layer of partnership and collaboration. It does truly take a village to make this event come together, and we are grateful to the Barkley Group, and our longstanding partners like WCAR and Labels for standing with us year after year!”

The move to Barkley Village was an exciting development for Lydia Place event organizers, as the setting offers the perfect location to support this renowned and rapidly growing fashion forum for good. Lacking a permanent structure in Bellingham that could fit the event under one roof, Barkley Village helped to secure a 9,000 square foot structure that could contain all elements of the event, and provide necessary parking and accessibility for attendees.

Neal Swanson, Barkley Village Vice President of Marketing and Leasing, shared, “Handbags is a unique, vibrant and fun event, always well produced, with outstanding promotion and word of mouth around town. Lydia Place resonates with Barkley because we are both Bellingham-based organizations that are trying to provide facilities for the people and business of Whatcom County to thrive.” Swanson also highlighted how this event aligns with Barkley’s vision, stating, “Barkley Village continues to evolve with office, retail and multi-family projects in the pipeline. As we grow, we are consciously taking steps to create a well-rounded and vibrant village that has great energy seven days a week. Our hope is that through fundraising events and continued construction we can showcase the village while raising money for a good cause.”

Don’t be late! Grab your ticket, find your friends, and dust off your handbag for a night of fashion, fun and philanthropy at the 6th annual Handbags for Housing benefitting Lydia Place!

About Lydia Place

Lydia Place is nonprofit, community-based agency based in Bellingham, WA, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Whatcom and greater Whatcom County since 1989. Through partnerships with private and public entities, Lydia Place provides services and housing placements to over 150 households at any given time through its diverse housing and support programs. The mission of Lydia Place is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and promote sustained independence for current and future generations.

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