Submitted by Lydia Place

Bellingham-based nonprofit, Lydia Place, announced it will host its first virtual event and online auction on Friday, May 8 as a result of COVID-19. The event is a spin-off of its annual Art for Housing which raises funds for Lydia Place programs and services. This year’s event will highlight the work of Lydia Place’s Mental Health Program to coincide with May’s Mental Health and Awareness month.

“We’re excited to try something new,” said Tally Rabatin, Lydia Place’s community engagement director. “We have seen an outpouring of support from our local artist community, sponsors, and partners to maintain this event and critical funding. We hope the community will join in the effort too!”

The event will feature an interactive program as well as an online silent art auction with dozens of pieces of artwork from local talents and one of kind masters. Participants can bid on art from a mobile device or computer. All proceeds benefit Lydia Place programs and services. The event is free to attend, but prior registration is required. Register at www.artforhousing.com.

Last year, the Mental Health Program conducted 668 counseling sessions, including some home visits.

“Our mental health program provides a vital service to those who lack access to traditional mental health treatment and support,” Erin Smith, Lydia Place’s clinical program director, said. “Our flexible model allows us to meet clients where they are in order to empower them to find the strength to start rebuilding their lives.

On March 20, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a stay-at-home order which has since been extended to May 4. In addition, on Friday, Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced the cancellation of all summer events. The measures are meant to encourage physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We think a virtual event the best way to ensure the safety of our community, the opportunity for anyone to participate, and some fun in an otherwise strange time,” said Laura Owens, Lydia Place’s event coordinator.

Lydia Place’s virtual event highlights the need for nonprofits to be creative as they balance the need for funding their services and the current public health crisis.

“Our mental health services have been especially critical during this pandemic when all of us are managing tremendous stress and uncertainty,” Smith said. “We are proud to be able to continually adapt to meet the changing needs.”

Lydia Place is a nonprofit, community-based agency serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Bellingham, Washington. The mission of Lydia Place is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and promote sustained independence for current and future generations. It was founded in 1989 and is supported by 31 staff members.

Featured image “Seas the Day” by Ben Mann

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