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April Newsletter

Dear Health Ministries Network Community,

Indeed, April showers bring May flowers, but what to the winds and bouts of sun, bits of sleet and occasional rainbow bring? They seem to be a compression of life--a microcosm of the beauty and hardship, the turbulence and peace, and above all, the persistence, endurance and miracle of this life.

Blessed Ramadan, Happy Passover and Happy Easter Season to our community during this month of April! Indeed, it is a month of observation and celebration. With this, we pray for our Ukrainian neighbors near and far and for all those places of suffering in the world. There are many. We bring prayers and offerings, we bring healing to others through spiritual, emotional and physical caregiving and we continue to hope. Still, sometimes, with our limited human capacity, this seems like it's not enough. However, as people of faith, we know that what we bring in prayer and talent is enough. You are enough.

When I have these feelings, I turn to Mary Oliver's poem, "Wild Geese," (see our Creative Offering for the full poem). In it, she states that we need not go to extreme lengths (over-efforting), but we must love what we love, remembering our humanness. We can find beauty, solace, reassurance--and healing--in this National Poetry Month as well.

In April, our focus on "Ask a Nurse" and the YMCA Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program continue. We expand our awareness around diabetes and the impact that prediabetes has on our kidneys and overall health. And we honor the earth and all creatures upon it for Earth Day and each day.

At Health Ministries Network, we have a number of happenings this month. The first is the start of our Foundations in Faith Community Nursing Course, which is online again this year and hosting between 6-8 up-and-coming Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers from around Whatcom County, Western Washington and the United States. We are grateful that we have the super teaching and coordinating team of Bill Lonneman and Carol Nicolay leading again in 2022! Sadly for us, this is Carol Nicolay's last year coordinating the course because she and her husband will be moving later this spring. We extend special gratitude to her for all that she has cultivated over her years with Health Ministries Network.

On Friday, April 15th, we have two events: a 9:30am walk at Little Mountain Park in Mt. Vernon with RN, Sunny Garza (see details below) and our HMN Monthly Meeting from noon-1:30pm, featuring a presentation by the GRACE (Ground-Level Response and Coordinated Engagement) Program of Whatcom County via Zoom. Like our dedicated FCNs and HMs, the GRACE team meets people where they are at, and we look forward to learning more about their work. After the presentation, we look forward to time together, in HMN community.

Please stay connected. Wishing you continued peace, health, and love. Take good care today!

Yours in gratitude and hope,

Sarah Lane

Executive Director

Thank you to Rhonda Rische, Bev Bishop and Northside Community Church for welcoming Health Ministries Network into their space for an orientation to the future site of the Northside Community All-Inclusive Playground. We walked and learned and Dick Cathell shared a beautiful blessing over this space. Look for more in-person outings in upcoming months. What a beautiful gift they will be offering alongside the Whatcom County Community. If you'd like to learn more or be involved (groundbreaking is July 24th!), please visit their webpage.

HMN April Meeting: GRACE Program

The Whatcom GRACE (Ground-Level Response And Coordinated Engagement) program is a community-based effort to find solutions for individuals who are high utilizers of emergency and criminal justice systems. The aim is to offer intensive, coordinated services to these “familiar faces” whose needs span beyond any single agency. Join Malora Christenson and our HMN Community in learning more about this program, whether you are in Whatcom County or beyond. The GRACE program is currently our neighbor at our PeaceHealth Office, and it's good to get to know our neighbors!

It will be a friendly time of learning and growing and sharing! Learn about upcoming events. Share stories to share from your faith community! Spend some time in prayer and gratitude together on this Good Friday.

Everyone is welcome! Please join us via Zoom on Friday, April 15th, 12-1:30pm via Zoom

Please contact Sarah Lane for a link or with questions at

HMN April Walk in Skagit County!

We are blessed to have Sunny Garza, RN and FCN in Skagit County, leading a walk in the outdoors for our FCNs and HMs on Friday April 15th 9:30am.

Directions: We will park and meet at Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon. 3000 Little Mountain Rd, Mount Vernon, WA 98274.Drive up the main roadway, about half way up the road, park in the middle parking on the side of the road.

The route: Sunny has a specific trail to head to viewpoints in mind, and making it a shorter, gentler hike parking half way up. Huff and Puff to sidewinder and viewpoints is about one mile up, one mile down from where she intends to start, for a mild and fun short walk/ hike.

RSVP: If you are able to join her, please RSVP so that she can offer directions for parking: RSVP to or 360-202-1569. Please also contact Sunny by cell phone if you have any questions or need help finding the group.

HMN March Meeting: WTA Presents

Thank you, Janet, Mary and Andrew! We learned so much about WTA, its programs, how to plan routes and how to connect all the way to Seattle!

In case you missed it, you can watch a replay by clicking here.

Here are some important notes from the meeting as well:

  • If you'd like a brochure on WTA's offerings, please check here:

  • Welcome to Andrew Herndon - WTA Travel Trainer. You can contact him to teach you or a group how to use WTA services:, 360.305.9094

  • Thank you to Mary Anderson, the WTA Transit Planner, who is happy to answer questions, particularly about the Lynden Hop! The Lynden Hop costs $1/ride. Lynden Hop hours: Monday - Friday 7:15 AM - 7:30 PM and Saturday - Sunday 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM.

  • Thank you to Janet Malley, the WTA Mobility Coordinator, who can answer your questions about Paratransit. You may contact her at: 360-788-9379

Other important notes from the meeting, not captured in the video (because the video became too long:

  • Carol Nicolay announced that the Foundations Course starts on April 9 and runs through June 11. It's an online course with three Saturday zooms. We have applications from NC, AL, and WA.

  • Contact information for Bellingham at Home, which also helps with travel and mobility for older adults is:

Please contact Sarah Lane with questions at director@healthministriesnetwork.netFoundations in Faith Community Nursing Course 2022 is Starting - Thank you, Carol Nicolay

Our distance learning Foundations for Faith Community Nursing for active and retired nurses and a parallel Foundations for Health Ministry course for lay members of faith communities begins this Saturday!

This is the second year we've offered this course online, and as of today, we have students from as near as Lynden and Blaine and as far as Alabama! What a beautiful mosaic of students we will meet this weekend!

Thank you to all of you who help with the course each year--Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers, Faith Community Leaders and partner organizations. Thank you to Bill Lonneman and Carol Nicolay in all their hard work and preparation each year for this course. Have you met Bill and Carol? If not, please take a moment to read about them here:

Bill Lonneman is an assistant professor and interim director of the RN-to-BSN program at Western Washington University. He became a nurse in 1982 and has worked in hospice, neighborhood health centers, and primary care as a family nurse practitioner. He received his Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Madonna University and also holds a Master's degree in Theology from Xavier University in Cincinnati. He currently serves as chaplain for Francis Place, a ministry of Catholic Community Services that provides program-supported permanent housing in Bellingham for people who were chronically homeless.

Carol Nicolay is a retired registered nurse who is active as a Health Minister at the First Congregational Church of Bellingham and as a Westberg Institute instructor. Previously she held positions as Director for Professional Studies (WWU), Assistant Director for Academic Programs (UW), and Manager of Continuing Education (SPIE). She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University and holds a graduate degree from University of Phoenix and under-graduate degree in Adult Education from Grand Canyon University (Phoenix.) She and her husband Neal have lived in Bellingham for over 20 years.

Pray with us. As we prepare to launch the 2022 Foundations Course, please help us by joining us in prayer for all who teach and assist and for each of our students. Pray for their health and safety, for peace and ease around their work and schedule and for their graduation and direction on June 11th, 2022. Please also help us by saving the date for this graduation! It is so important to welcome our new graduates into a warm community!

Can you help? This will be Carol's last season as our Foundations Course Coordinator and Instructor. She will be moving away from Bellingham in May. Would you like to learn more about the Course Coordinator position and what Carol does to create a beautiful course each year? Could you see yourself coordinating an HMN Foundations Course in the future? Please contact Sarah Lane at if you'd like to "shadow" Carol this season to help HMN carry on the tradition of a great Foundations Course!

Congratulations and Thank You, Mary Lynn Palmer and Carol Nicolay!

Thank you to all who entered their volunteer hours for the first quarter of 2022. We usually offer Woods Coffee cards to an individual who enters hours, but this quarter, we decided that inspiration might serve us better than caffeine, and we split a scholarship to the Virtual Westberg Symposium between Carol Nicolay, HM at the First Congregational Church of Bellingham, and Mary Lynn Palmer, FCN with First Presbyterian Church in Bellingham. Thank you to all who entered their hours, to our donors who make such scholarships possible, and to our HMN Board, who continue to see the value in elevating the importance of ongoing education across our community.

An Invitation to Support the Mt. Baker Community Alongside HMN and Many Partners

As many of you know, Health Ministries Network, thanks to a generous grant from the Chuckanut Health Foundation's Aging Well Whatcom, has been hosting an Ask a Nurse program on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, alongside the Foothills Food Bank.

It has been wonderful to get to know the Mt. Baker Foothills Community! This spring, we invite you to join us at our Ask a Nurse Table, providing education on blood glucose monitoring and taking blood pressures, sharing good resources and providing a warm healthcare presence. If you or your faith community would like to support this wellness fair in some way, please sign up here or connect with Sarah Lane at

You are Invited: Events with Faith Community Health Network of Oregon

Be sure to complete the Education Needs Survey for 2022 and 2023! You do not have to be local to complete the survey. We welcome all faith community nurses, health ministers, and anyone interested in faith community nursing or health ministry to weigh in. Here is the link to the survey.

Our next FULL network meeting will be April 27 from 4p-6p. We will be formulating our education plan at that meeting, so you won't want to miss it! We are not sure yet if it will be in person and on Zoom or just on Zoom, but you will get information on the Monday before the meeting (April 25) at 8am as usual. If we do meet in person, it will be here in Lebanon somewhere. We will let you know. Either way, we will broadcast it, so watch for the announcement with the link/location.

Community Events & Info

In an effort to connect our volunteers with relevant resources, we publish community events and information in our monthly newsletter and on our website. Email to add your own.

Click on the banner above to read more about the far-reaching impacts of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, from the ongoing impact of HIV worldwide to elevated rates of syphilis in Washington State.

According to the Washington DOH: "Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are the most commonly reported diseases in Washington State. Many are curable, others are treatable, all are preventable. Most people with STDs don't have obvious symptoms, but without treatment they can spread disease and possibly develop serious complications. Our STD program staff can help answer questions."

HMN Supporting Mental Health: Resources Developing and at our Fingertips

We can never have too many resources at hand when supporting mental health. In upcoming months, Health Ministries Network's Melanie Cool, LMHC, will be forming support groups to support our healthcare community. Thank you to Dick Cathell and Melanie and all who have helped us identify this deep need for support. Stay tuned.

However, we know that behavioral health needs may be immediate, and we want to ensure you have some resources on hand for your health ministry. Here are a few options:

Crisis Text Line: 741741

Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. Crisis Text Line is here for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment. Envía un mensaje de texto con la palabra AYUDA al 741741 para comunicarte con un Consejero de Crisis.

Crisis Text Line atiende a cualquier persona sin importar su tipo de crisis, , y brinda apoyo gratuito las 24 horas del día, los 7 días de la semana a través de un medio que la gente ya usa y en el que confían: los mensajes de texto. Envíanos un mensaje de texto.

Crisis Phone Line 1-800-584-3578

Mental Health Treatment Access Line 1-888-693-7200​​

Click here to link to the Behavioral Health Community Guide for Whatcom County or here for

More Options for Services in Whatcom County

For Peer Support Groups, connect with NAMI of Whatcom County

Mental health is critical to well-being at every age. Join a free virtual event on May 16 that will empower professionals with the latest tools to improve the lives of older adults in their communities. The all-day symposium is sponsored by the National Council on Aging, U.S. Administration for Community Living, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, and E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging.

COVID-19 Information, At-Home Tests and Vaccination Perspectives

COVID-19 County Check Tool is a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps they need to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds, admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

Check your county’s COVID-19 Commmunity Level to determine the right prevention steps for you and your community.

At-Home Test Kits: Availability and Resources

There are a few different ways to get free at-home COVID-19 tests right now.

  • You can now order 4 free at-home tests to be delivered to your door:

  • WA State is also offering mail-order tests:

    • English - Home - Say Yes! To Covid Test (

    • Spanish - Inicio - Say Yes! To Covid Test (

Whatcom Family YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

Diabetes Prevention. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (new class starts April 11th) helps adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease. This program is made possible by a partnership with Unity Care NW. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Support for Caregivers

Weekly - Zoom Video Conference Call

WWU Palliative Care Institute

The Palliative Care Institute has initiated a weekly on-line support group for staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, providing in-home care, and/or hospice care, creating a virtual space for them to come together to talk about the impact of the pandemic on their work and their clients and residents -- a kind of ‘COVID coffee break room,’ a place to sit down to talk for a few minutes with others who are also struggling to reconfigure all aspects of care. By gathering their thoughts, PCI hopes be a vehicle for sharing these stories more widely with those outside their worlds. Anyone who would like to join this support group can email to request the Zoom link.

On-Demand and Live Online Advance Care Planning Classes

PeaceHealth is offering "Your Voice Your Choice" classes online to help people complete their advance directives and durable power of attorney documents. Sharing your wishes for the care you want if you are critically ill can bring you closer to the people you love. Making your wishes known clearly in advance of a crisis is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself, your family and friends.

Classes are offered the first Wednesday of every month 1:00-3:00 PM. The class is also on-demand and can be watched online anytime. Learn more at:

Creative Offering

In honor of National Poetry Month and the healing power of poetry, please take a moment with Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese."

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Support HMN

Help us support the invaluable work of faith community nurses and health ministers in northwest Washington by donating today!

And thank you to our fiscal sponsor,

Health Ministries Network is a nonprofit serving Northwest Washington with a mission to link Faith Community Nurses & Health Ministers, congregations and local resources, to nurture community health equity with spiritual well-being.

Health Ministries Network is affiliated with the Chuckanut Health Foundation.

800 E. Chestnut St., Ste 1A

Bellingham, WA 98225


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