BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON-- Local foster care nonprofit, Skookum Kids, is $28,500 stronger after hosting their first fundraiser on Nov. 10. Over 200 people attended the event which featured a speech given by concentration camp survivor and former New Jersey assemblywoman, Mary Previte.
“It was a wonderful evening spent celebrating all that we’ve accomplished together and looking forward to what’s next,” Executive Director Ray Deck III said. “And once again, the community rose up in support of this important work.”
Skookum Kids began in Bellingham in 2015. Skookum runs a volunteer-staffed home for children just entering foster care, finds foster homes for those children and licenses foster parents. It currently serves Whatcom and Skagit counties with a goal to expand across western Washington.
Most of the over 200 people who attended had no previous connection to Skookum.
“What a heart-stopping success!” Previte said. “Expansion of safe and nurturing foster homes will change the lives of many children who now suffer in chaos and often danger.”
Previte spoke on her time in Weihsien Concentration Camp, specifically on how her teachers provided a sense of safety in the midst of their severe situation. She said those teachers made games out of hardships and thus, she only remembers being afraid once in Weishien.
“I salute tonight the heroes who saved my childhood, who preserved my childhood,” Previte said. “I have not been hindered at all by having had this experience.”
Previte spent almost three years imprisoned by the Japanese in Weihsien Concentration Camp in Weihsien, China. She later became the administrator of the Camden County Youth Center. In 1997, Previte was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly where she advocated for disadvantaged and troubled youth. Her story has been told by the BBC, The New York Times and National Public Radio.
“Foster care done well is Mary’s story,” Deck said. “Healthy adults who enter the lives of children who’ve experienced the unthinkable and find ways to preserve their innocence, protect their childhood. We hope for nothing less for every child that we encounter.”
“I salute to everyone who says ‘I set high standards, hope, high expectations for all of our children’ and I think we’ve got 200 people here tonight that are ready to join those heroes. Let me salute you,” Previte said.
Skookum Kids was founded in 2015 by Ray Deck III in Bellingham, Washington. This non-profit organization is dedicated to repairing the foster care system by equipping those already affected by the system and educating those who are not. It is staffed by seven full-time and four part-time employees and over 100 volunteers. For more information, visit their website at www.skookumkids.org.