“Awesomeness” isn’t all about fun and games. Faithlife looks for awesome employees because those are the people who are changing the world. Skookum Kids is one of the many things awesome people do.
In April of 2013, Ray Deck moved across the country to work at Faithlife (known then as Logos Bible Software) in Bellingham, Washington. After settling in, he got involved with a church plant on the south side of the city, near one of the biggest destinations for people on the edge of homelessness.
Through his church and its proximity to extreme poverty, Ray learned about a service gap he calls “the 72 hour problem.” It’s the waiting period after CPS rescues a child from a hostile family environment. There is no designated place for kids to stay during this time.
In a blog post, Ray shared what he’d learned about the situation these kids face:
When children enter foster care, social workers have 72 hours—3 working days—before they must appear before a judge with a plan about where the children will live. Where do the children go in the interim? There’s currently no plan.
Sometimes social workers place them in an already over-capacity foster home.
Sometimes the children are transported to the other side of the state.
Sometimes they sit in the hallway outside the social worker’s office while they work.
So just hours removed from trauma, these children are in a very vulnerable emotional state, and the foster care system has no plan for them.
It’s a huge service gap.
And I want to close it.
That’s where Skookum Kids comes in.
While Ray investigated the foster care system, a coalition of five churches (including Ray’s), government agencies, police, nonprofits, social services, businesses, and neighborhood associations has been working to restore the brokenness in this particular part of Bellingham.
As an active member of this coalition, Ray’s life outside of work stays busy. He says, “I’m really grateful for the flexibility I have at Faithlife. I can duck away for a meeting during the day if I need to, and put in a few weekend hours to keep up on my projects. Without the ability to do that, Skookum Kids wouldn’t exist.”
A few months ago at work, Ray showed me a map he created which showed where 911 calls came from throughout Bellingham. This community he’s had his eye on had the highest concentration of 911 calls. Right in the heart of this neighborhood are a couple rundown motels, frequently used for prostitution and drug dealing.
Greg Winter, director of the Whatcom Homeless Service Center says, “Sometimes these motels are housing of last resort to prevent [people] from living out on the street.”
The coalition wants to buy out one of these motels, and transform it into something beautiful.
With proper funding and enough volunteers, Ray hopes Skookum kids will be a refuge for these kids—a light in a neighborhood that has only known darkness. He says, “Children would receive nutritious food, new clothes, toys, transportation to and from school, and transportation to a medical screening—all under the supervision of trained volunteers.”