Haggen Funds New Wheelchair Van for Cascade Connections

2022 wheelchair van fundraising group photo

Kendon (center), testing out the new wheelchair van funded by Haggen for Cascade Connections in 2022. From left to right: Sarah (Cascade Connections communications staff); Sherry Vanweerdhuizen (Ferndale Haggen Guest Service Manager), Tonya Matter (Ferndale Haggen Garden Manager and Haggen Community Squad Representative); Janet Holmes (Ferndale Haggen Store Manager); Tara (CCH Program Director), Mekayla (CCH Program Coordinator); Kendon (CCH Resident); Kaily Hetherton & Pilar Hari (Haggen Community Relations Managers); Melissa Copenhaver (Barkley Haggen Guest Service Manager); George (Cascade Connections Executive Director).


We are thrilled to announce that we have reached our fundraising goal for the new wheelchair van, mostly thanks to a huge donation from Haggen! By donating $42,750, Haggen single-handedly has supplied over 90% of the funds needed to purchase a wheelchair van. This is not the first time that Haggen has come through for Cascade Connections. Far from it! Haggen has donated toward our fundraisers for years. In fact, Haggen also made a huge donation toward the last wheelchair van we bought! Words cannot fully express what this kind of support means to us. THANK YOU, Haggen, for supporting Cascade Connections as we work to improve quality of life and community belonging for those we serve. Our community is so fortunate to have your generous support.

To learn more about the history of Cascade Connections’ partnership with Haggen, check out this WhatcomTALK article.

We would also like to thank the following businesses, all of which also made donations during our 2022 Wheelchair Van Fundraiser: Bellingham Community Food Co-Op, First Fed, Harbor Lands Company, HUB International, Oasys, Inc., Rusty Wagon Old Tyme Food, Scholten’s Equipment, Van Loo’s Auto Service, Van’s Plumbing and Electric, Inc., and WECU. Many thanks to these businesses and to all individuals who have donated toward the new wheelchair van!

Sponsoring Business Highlights


haggen logo

For almost 90 years, Haggen has been the local, neighborhood grocer. Haggen sustain partnerships with their local farmers, ranchers, fisheries and businesses to bring the very best to our community markets. The stores offers fresh, local produce, sustainable seafood, fresh meat, a scratch-made bakery, a vibrant delicatessen and a wide assortment of organic, gluten-free, local and specialty items. Haggen is a strong advocate of engaging and supporting the communities, and through collaborations with hyper local non-profit organizations, in-kind donations, and in-store engagement, their Community Giving program brings positive, lasting change to the communities.

HUB International

hub international logo

HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage that provides employee benefits, business, and personal insurance products and services.

First Fed

first fed logo

First Fed is serving customers and communities since 1923. Currently, First Fed has 16 locations including 12 full-service branches in Clallam, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, and Whatcom counties. In the past 7 years, First Fed has donated over $8 million to non-profit organizations through our bank and foundation. In 2022, our team volunteered over 6,500 hours with non-profit organizations.

Scholten’s Equipment

scholten's equipment logo

Located in Lynden, Washington, the hub of the agriculture community in Whatcom County, Scholten’s Equipment is one of four major agriculture equipment dealers in an estimated 20 million dollar total local market. Scholten’s has a substantial market built up in the rest of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.

Van Loo’s Auto Service

van loo's auto service logo

Van Loo’s Auto Service, family owned & operated, has been helping customers in the Lynden and surrounding area with their vehicles since 1966.

Rusty Wagon Old Tyme Food

rusty wagon old tyme food logo

Van’s Plumbing and Electric, Inc.

van's plumbing & electric, inc. logo

International Assistance Dog Week

Written by Mary Nestle-Klyn, Residential Administrator of Cascade Connections

mary and yumaIn honor of International Assistance Dog Week, I would like to share with you some information about my guide dog, Yuma. I got Yuma from Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) in May, 2018. Having a service dog has been absolutely life-changing! Yuma helps me with mobility, avoiding obstacles, navigating through crowds, etc. My eye condition affects my central vision, so often people and objects appear out of nowhere. Yuma has helped me to feel a sense of independence that I was quite honestly losing. Instead of relying on people for rides all of the time, Yuma and I are exploring public transportation together and becoming good at getting around Whatcom County! Previously I had to rely on sighted guides, a cane, or driving with my telescopic lenses, which, while legal, didn’t feel very safe.

telescopic lensesOne of the challenges of having a service dog is that strangers want to pet her all of the time. Always ask before petting a service dog. It could be dangerous to distract an assistance dog from their responsibilities.

Other dogs are also a barrier to success in the community. Yuma loves dog friends, but frequently we are confronted in the community by strangers with dogs that are not on leash who jump all over us and distract Yuma from her work. This is a frequent complaint I hear from my peers who also have service dogs.

mary and yumaOne of the ways Yuma assists me is that every morning when I get to work she leads me directly to wherever I have left my coffee cup and then directly to the kitchen to fill it up. It’s pretty funny. She relies on routine and has apparently figured mine out quite well!

Do remember that visual impairment falls on a continuum. I stayed in Oregon for a couple of weeks taking classes with GDB on how to become an effective team with my guide dog. I was surprised that my eye sight was not the best amongst my group. Most people with visual impairments are not completely blind, but still benefit from the assistance of a guide dog. There are a lot of myths perpetuated by the media in regards to people with visual impairments looking stereotypically “blind.”

It’s important to realize that service dogs get to have fun too. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is actually very against service dogs because they don’t understand that guide dogs are in fact not always working. People ask me all of the time if Yuma ever gets to be a normal dog. Yes, she does. She is like any other dog when she is off-duty.

yumaGenerally speaking, I think Yuma really enjoys working. She loves having a sense of purpose and gets excited to be in her harness. She loves playing in her off time as well. If there comes a time that Yuma is no longer excited about working, she will retire and I will get a new dog. Guide dogs work for as long, or as little, of a time as they want to. Many dogs never make it to the status of guide dog. There is a great movie coming out that I have had the opportunity to preview called “Pick of the Litter,” which chronicles the life and challenges of puppy raisers upbringing of a litter for GDB.

It is also important to remember that like humans, guide dogs have good days and bad days. Yuma is not super human, and she doesn’t actually speak English. She is trained to perform certain activities on my behalf with detailed rewards system. We are still a new team and working together to become an even better team.

Here is a video of Yuma having fun when she is off-duty!