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December Newsletter

Dear Health Ministries Network Community,

Welcome, December, which brings 2021, no doubt a year of joys and sorrows, to a close. We enter December during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, a time of celebration. We enter December in the Advent Season, a season of waiting. We anticipate Winter Solstice and Christmas and Kwanzaa--and the New Year. And as we anticipate, perhaps our anticipation is either tinged or perhaps saturated with the grief of this past year (or two years). Today, it feels important to remember that we do not leave our grief over losses behind for the holidays. Rather, we bring our whole selves into the season. So as we prepare for holidays and celebration, let us hold space to honor the hardships and griefs that individuals and communities suffer. In all of this, let us remain empowered by the hope of our various faiths and the hope that we bring to each other in love and service.

Thank you to those who spent some time with us, getting to our Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers, as well as our Board of Directors and our partners, during our Season of Hope and Gratitude. In case you missed the video, you can pour a cup of tea or hot chocolate and enjoy that here.

Thank you also for reading our Annual Report 2020-21, to share what we've been doing throughout pandemic. Despite challenging times, we remain active across our communities. As we work we are grateful for your presence alongside us and all you bring to this world. In this season of gratitude and hope, we place our hope in you and our supportive communities, who love one another well.

For our December meeting, we will hear from Sunny Garza and Dotty Marston, two of our Faith Community Nurses who have been on medical mission trips these past couple of months and bring us tidings of joy and hope in the care and compassion that Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers and Community Health Advocates bring to the world.

And finally, please see our updates many good updates and opportunities to help within our local community, learn and grow and read and rest. Please stay connected. Wishing you continued peace, health, and compassion in service. Take good care today!

Yours in gratitude and hope,

Sarah Lane

Executive Director


Thank you to our Ask a Nurse team, serving at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center. Each month, we have several Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers who serve regularly, taking BPs, providing health education and finding resources for guests. We also have volunteers who serve periodically, bringing not only their talents, but also their love, as they can. And at least once a month, we bring a partner organization along to address guests' specific requests. In October, the YMCA began joining us regularly, offering their BP Self-Monitoring program. In November, NAMI came along and provided support and materials to many guests. They are now exploring initiating a support group in Maple Falls. And in December, we'll have not only Dementia Support NW with us on December 14th, but also musicians, bringing holiday cheer to those working, volunteering and visiting the Foothills Food Bank, just as musicians have done at PeaceHealth, bringing art and joy to healthcare workers during shift changes. If you are a FCN/HM, please consider coming out with us once and being a part of a warm healthcare presence!Thank you for Supporting Health Ministries Network!


Dear Colleagues in Faith, Thank you to those who have already responded to our annual giving letter! We appreciate your prayers, notes of support and donations! When you support us in any way, this lets us, as well as granting organizations, know that we are important to our communities. Today, this is essential. So thank you! For over 20 years, Health Ministries Network (HMN) has trained and supported more than 230 nurses and HMs serving 63 communities of faith in Skagit Whatcom, Island and San Juan Counties. Today, in pandemic time, we continue to serve with prayer, passion and vigor. Though we are unable again to host our popular, live, Spirit of Giving in-person event, we hope you've had an opportunity to join us in our Season of Hope and Gratitude this month, which we celebrated through a number of video interviews with FCNs/HMs, partners and HMN Board Members. We also invite you to celebrate all that we've been able to contribute to our faith communities and our greater community in 2020-2021 by taking a look at our Annual Report. And we hope that you will partner with us, by supporting Health Ministries Network with your donation, in accordance with your budget in this challenging time. To summarize just a few of the ways we've supported our community through this time: Outreach: We remain connected with faith community leaders, members and ministries, gathering, sharing and offering support for health, safety and reopening in faith communities. We provide regular, quality, free continuing education opportunities to our volunteers. Education: We continue to provide our Foundations course, graduating 6 new FCNs/HMs this year and support regional Foundations courses online, across the miles. Equity: We have initiated the Ask a Nurse program through a grant from Aging Well Whatcom, to support older adults and families in East Whatcom County. Through this program, we provide support, education, and healthcare connection to healthcare to Slavic and Spanish-speaking community members, among many others. Ministry: We support our Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers, Community Health Advocates and Community Health Workers in their ministries and offered critical connection, support and prayer throughout faith communities and the greater communities in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties. Collaboration: We have hosted WWU RN to BSN students in their community service project: keeping people connected during pandemic. We support partner organizations in food deliveries, program support and sharing and envisioning the expansion of health equity and spiritual well-being in our area. Thank you for joining us in a moment of gratitude that we are able to serve in these dynamic and growing times. Please consider supporting HMN into the future with your financial contribution today. The needs are great and growing! Thank you so much, Joni Hensley, President Mike Massanari Emily Gibson LeAna Osterman, Vice President Charles (Chaz) Nelson Dick Cathell Kate Massey, Secretary Melanie Cool Sunny Garza Pam Colyer HMN Board of Directors


HMN December Meeting: FCNs Share Mission Trip Experiences!

You may have seen FCN/RN Dotty Marston's photo and quote in our Season of Gratitude and Hope video, which she sent us from her mission trip to Mexico. And our newest HMN Board Member, FCN/RN Sunny Garza, has also just returned from a mission trip--to Egypt! Dotty and Sunny have graciously agreed to share their experiences at our meeting. Please see the preview--Sunny's article here! And please plan to join us!

It will be a friendly time of sharing! Bring stories to share from your faith community! Bring your holiday prayers and prayer requests, your cheer and grief, alike, and pause with us in community!

Everyone is welcome! Please join us via Zoom on Friday, December 17th, 12-1:30pm.

Please contact Sarah Lane with questions or request a Zoom link at


HMN November Meeting: Whatcom Asset Building Coalition & Spiritual Check in with Dick Cathell

Thank you to all those who attended our November. In case you missed it, please click here for a replay. First, we had a spiritual check in with Dick Cathell, as he talked about the challenges of connection and personal spiritual growth during this time.

Then we heard from Heidi Knickerbocker from the Whatcom ABC, and she walked us through their resource lists. We decided that one of the good ways to share these resources is to print and assemble them in a notebook that we can keep on hand when visiting people or in a church office, so that good food and clothing, housing and rental assistance, healthcare and mental health resources are at our fingertips, even when we don't have an internet connection. Click here to access the Whatcom ABC pages. And thank you to Heidi Knickerbocker for working so hard to update these!

In the future, they'll feed into an area database that we will be able to access--and we're hoping that we can refer people through this database as well. HMN attends the Resource Roundtable meetings on the development of this resource, so we will keep you informed.

Finally, we talked about some resources for flood victims. While some of these are listed at the Whatcom ABC, the Whatcom County Library System offers resources at their site as well. Click here to access the WCLS list.

Please contact Sarah Lane with questions at


Invest in Nurses: UW 2021-2022 Series

Last year, we embarked on a series of webinars as part of the Nightingale Challenge that provided emerging nurse and midwife leaders development training opportunities to elevate nursing’s role in their clinics and departments.

We continue the webinar series this year under the theme, “INVEST IN NURSES,” featuring nurse leaders and disrupters sharing transformative ideas to elevate the nursing profession for the improvement of jobs, health, and equity. Each webinar will be offered free of cost to nurses, midwives, clinical partners, state and federal agencies, and organizations serving or staffing nurses or midwives across the world.

Upon request, attendees will be emailed a Certificate of Participation following each webinar. View past webinars here

2022 webinars will be posted soon! Please return to this website to see updated schedule for 2022.


Ways to Support Flood Victims in Whatcom

and Skagit Counties

As you know, our region has been hit with heavy rains and flooding, and over 500 people in Whatcom County, alone, have been displaced from their homes. Many of us are providing support through our faith communities or by reaching out to flood victims with assistance. Thank you to many faith communities, particularly Sonlight Church and North County Christ the King, for their compassion and commitment to serving those who have suffered these floods.

For those who want to help but have not yet found a way, here are two additional ways to support flood victims through donations:

Whether we have prepared for a flood or not, it is important today to consider emergency preparedness for our faith communities and our larger community. Here are a few resources to consider as we attend to today and prepare for tomorrow:


Time to Report Your Volunteer Hours

It's December and time to report volunteer hours. We now have a simple online tool for you to use. Click here to try it out. Do you need to enter by phone? Call or email Sarah Lane, and she'll make an appointment to sit with them and enter hours. Would you like to enter by mailing your hours on a an hours log? We have one of these available, too! Just click here to download.

This easy hours entry tool features:

  • 5 minutes to complete

  • simple choices and a narrative option.

  • option to receive a copy of your survey to help you report to your faith community

  • option to enter monthly or quarterly

  • option to enter for someone else

  • option to request a copy to help you track and report in your faith community

Please take a look, fill it out for the quarter, and be sure to make suggestions for change and future offerings at the end of the survey!


Sarah Lane still has Woods $20 gift cards available for 2021, and she's more than happy to award these to the individual who has entered the most hours for fall and winter quarters--we may even be able to offer two cards for each quarter, so please enter your hours today, and let's give out some cards at our December meeting!

If we do not hear a tree fall in the woods, does it really fall? Well . . . yes. Of course it still falls. But when we don't hear it, we don't know about it, and in a way, it's as if it hasn't happened! We need to know about your hours so that we can share the good news with sponsors, supporters, faith communities--and the greater community! Please contact Sarah Lane at for questions or assistance.


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.


From the CDC: December 1st is World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, observed each year on December 1, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died from an HIV-related illness. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day


Local and National Efforts: Supporting Afghan Allies

Whatcom Refugee Resettlement Project. Officially a World Relief Office as of September, the Whatcom Refugee Project consists of a group of volunteers and interested individuals from different faith communities, nonprofits and other organizations who are striving to answer the question: Can Whatcom County become a community which truly welcomes the stranger, not just with words but through tangible deeds of love, generosity and humility? If you or your faith community is interested in learning more about this project, please click on the link above.

From NSACH: Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest (RISNW) Executive Director Van Kuno has stepped in to play a key role in welcoming Afghan individuals and families! RISNW partnered with North Sound ACH to support in three overlapping areas: the Community Health Worker/Promotores fund, the COVID-19 response fund, and the recently established Afghan refugee resettlement support fund. “Going through the red tape to get funding takes a chunk out of our busy schedule,” Kuno said. North Sound ACH helps with some of that “red tape,” which “allows us to do the job that we’re supposed to do,” Kuno said. You can read more about Van and RISNW efforts on our blog!

From HHS:

Part III,Dec 1 2:00 p.m. EST. Register here.

HHS and DHS Center’s for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships co-host this webinar series aimed at building the capacity of faith and community partners to support our new Afghan neighbors.

  • View the recordings for Part I: Overview of Operation Allies Welcome and Part II Introduction to Sponsorship Circles.

  • Part 3 (Dec. 1) and Part 4 (Dec 15) webinars will focus on ways that faith and community groups can support our Afghan allies.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leads and coordinates ongoing efforts across the federal government to support vulnerable Afghans and to coordinate our response and ensure unity of effort.

Afghan individuals and families are being resettled in 270 communities around the country and each of them can benefit from the support of faith and community partners. Find the nearest local program here.


From Northwest Life Passages (NWLP): End of Life Rack Card Project & PACE in Whatcom County

This month, NWLP offered a presentation on the End of Life Rack Card project sponsored by NWMS and a discussion about PACE in Whatcom County. If you missed this meeting and are interested in watching the replay, please follow the link below:

Copy the link below into your browser:

Passcode: X@#2ayP!


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: Offering


Creative Offering

Reflections from Work in Egypt: The Simple Joys of Spiritual Care by Sunny Garza, BSN RN Faith Community Nurse

The Gravity of Small Gestures: It was highlighted to me how important small gestures of kindness are amidst language and cultural barriers. The way a war refugee looked around, weeping, while being prayed over in a different language after a life tragedy, or the way a child hugged ever so tight after being gifted a warm smile and a wave creating a space of rest and safety. The way appreciation was shown as light shining through the eyes of many patients to numerous team members who took the time to learn the Arabic phrases, “is-mik-a” (What is your name?) “esmech gamel” (beautiful name), “malapsa gameela” (beautiful dress), and “ana sayeed ini shoftic” (very nice to meet you). Continue to read in our blog.


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,

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