The Volunteer Mobilization Center of Whatcom County (VMC) in association with the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative (FCSC) is a not-for- profit, 100% volunteer, 501 (c)(3) organization formed to provide a reception and referral center for emergent, spontaneous volunteers who respond to disasters within Whatcom County.

Our Purpose

The VMC is dedicated to being ready after a disaster to sign up spontaneous volunteers as temporary State emergency workers and matching their skills with emergency responders’ needs. The VMC actively prepares for its mission by planning, exercising and educating Whatcom County citizens to assist in disaster response and recovery, and is committed to creating a resilient Whatcom community.

The VMC is an Emergency Worker Program volunteer unit, created in accordance with the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Title 118, Part 04. The VMC is also identified in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. During a time of great emergency or disaster, the VMC may be activated solely at the direction of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Emergency Management.

The VMC has additional, ongoing efforts, including the following:

  • Find and recruit a large cadre of volunteer staff members to set up and operate a post-disaster VMC;
  • Obtain and manage the equipment, supplies, and documents needed to set-up and operate a post-disaster VMC;
  • Engage and train the membership on personal and neighborhood preparedness, as well as how to manage and operate an active VMC;
  • Perform exercises simulating the opening and operation of a post-disaster VMC at least regularly;
  • Provide outreach for preparedness education to improve the resilience of individuals, neighborhoods and our entire community to withstand and recover fully from disaster as we raise awareness of our organization; and Partner with other volunteer, community, disaster-related organizations, such as the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD).

Our History

Since May 2015 inception, the VMC has accomplished a quite a lot with a small grant and a large number of volunteer hours. Frugal use of relatively small amounts of funding, combined with large amounts of volunteered time, are the basis for the current success of the VMC organization. The history of the VMC is a list of the accomplishments to date. These include:

  • Completion of a comprehensive operations manual for running the post-disaster VMC;
  • Detailed position descriptions for all roles in the post-disaster VMC;
  • Step-by- step processes in place for running a post-disaster VMC;
  • Development of the necessary forms for registration of spontaneous volunteers as temporary State emergency workers and matching them with emergency responders prioritized needs;
  • In January 2016, hosting an Emergency Management Summit drawing an audience in excess of 400 attendees with a detailed presentation of earthquake-related scenarios and a panel discussion by members from the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), American Red Cross, Map Your Neighborhood, the Whatcom County Sherriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management, Western Washington University Disaster Resilience Institute faculty, and City of Bellingham Office of Emergency Management;
  • Creation of the VMC organization steering committee;
  • In March 2016, setting up a public open house to familiarize interested volunteers on the process of a post-disaster VMC;
  • Publication of multiple news articles in local publications to inform the public about disaster preparedness and volunteering (see Publicity for examples);
  • Recruitment and registration of 100-plus volunteers as State emergency workers to staff a post-disaster VMC;
  • Monthly meetings with volunteers for education and training purposes;
  • Meeting with the Mayor of Bellingham’s Neighborhood Advisory Council;
  • On June 7 and 8, 2016, participation in the multi-State Cascadia Rising Earthquake Exercise with over 600 local participants. The VMC set up and operated a post-disaster VMC coordinating with emergency leaders and testing its processes;
  • In August 2016, participation in the Lynden Farmer’s Market to raise awareness of the need for VMC volunteers and disaster preparedness;
  • In September 2016, participation in the Ferndale Police Associations LEFT 5K to raise similar awareness; and
  • In October 2016, participation in the Green Hornet Active Shooter exercise for Whatcom County that included 34 separate agencies and staged at Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center, Horizon Middle School and Ferndale High School.
  • In January 2017, moving from under the closing Volunteer Center of Whatcom County board to be in association with the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative, a 501 (c) (3) organization/

Steering Committee

Since inception in May 2015, a volunteer Steering Committee has directed the VMC, meeting regularly to plan, organize, train and manage all aspects of the on-going operation. In addition, the Steering Committee leads a monthly training meeting open to all, as well as organizing outreach activities and larger events.

The Steering Committee has developed the detailed plans and documents related to opening, operating, and closing a post-disaster VMC, as well as training materials to educate its membership in this process. The group has identified, organized and inventoried the equipment and materials needed to open and operate a VMC post-disaster.

Terri Temple, Unit Leader - Terri Temple spent 30 years in Telecommunication industry before moving to Oil and Gas in 2007. A senior program manager for IT implementations she oversaw projects in excess of $50 Million. Terri moved to Whatcom County in 2007. Since retiring Terri has become a volunteer at Whatcom Hospice and is a board member of the Ferndale Community Services Cooperative. She is CERT trained and has completed the National Incident Management System courses 100, 200, 700 and 800. Terri has a B.S. in Journalism and Project Management. She is on the Board of the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative and volunteers at Whatcom Hospice.

Gayle Shipley, Secretary/Treasurer - Gayle Shipley retired in 2013 after 22 years at Western Washington University as Director of Environmental Health and Safety. Her responsibilities included emergency management planning for the university. In 2010, she applied for and received a Department of Education grant to improve emergency preparedness for the Resilient Bellingham Consortium consisting of the university, Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College. She has been a hazardous materials responder at both Western Washington and Northwestern Universities. She has taken National Incident Management System courses 100, 200, 300, 400, 700 and 800, and is CERT trained. She has a B.S. in Chemistry and an M.S. in Environmental Health Engineering.

Donald Diebert, Processes and Procedures - Don retired in 2012 after 30 plus years in higher education administration (Western Washington University, University of Colorado and Central Washington University). His experience includes over 16 years of project management responsibility, planning and leading large Information Technology projects, redesign of business processes, change management and system governance. Other assignments included administration of university welfare plans including medical, life and retirement plans for employees and retirees, and as a budget analyst. He has B.A. in Business Administration and has done graduate coursework in Business Administration.

 Records Management - TBD

Pat Lynam, Membership - Pat Lynam retired from Shell Oil Company in 2014 after 21 years in Human Resources and 30 years’ total career experience in the Human Resource specialty working in addition for engineering and construction companies servicing the oil industry. Areas of responsibility during her career included Talent Management, Change Management, Compensation Management, Human Resource Information Systems, Project Management, Conflict Resolution, Performance Management, Training Delivery, OE/OD Support, and client support from hourly to executive level employees in global organizations. She has been volunteering working on disaster preparedness since April 2015. She has completed the National Incident Management System required courses and successfully completed CERT training and the CERT Train the Trainer course. She is a member of the Sudden Valley Emergency Preparedness Committee and Sudden Valley CERT team. She has a B.A. in Human Resource Management from Wheeling Jesuit University and a M.A. in Multicultural Studies from the University of Houston – Clear Lake.

Dr. Mary Lynne Courtney, Outreach-Graduated from DePaul University with a B.S. in mathematics.  After graduation I worked for IBM for two years as a systems engineer in the financial sector.  (A systems engineer functions as a computer software consultant for IBM’s customers.)  After leaving IBM I was self-employed as a computer programmer and consultant for small businesses for many years.  In 1991, I returned to graduate school at the University of Memphis earning a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1999.  From 1999 to 2001 I worked as a clinical psychologist for county mental health agencies in North Carolina and 2002 I established a private practice specializing in assessment and treatment of children and adolescents.  After moving to Washington in 2008, I re-established a private practice in Bellingham.  I retired in 2016. Over the years I have been involved with and held office in various groups, PTAs, a Woman’s Center, a neighborhood food coop, as well as professional groups.  Currently, in addition to my work with the Whatcom Volunteer Mobilization Center, I am the secretary for my homeowner’s group and participate in Knitted Knockers and a reading program for children at a local school.

Communications and Information Technology - Open