Dan Godwin Community Center

The Arc of Whatcom County offices are located inside The Dan Godwin Community Center. The Dan Godwin Community Center is a family-centered place where community members of all ages and abilities can gather to share resources and participate in recreational and educational activities. This is a place for everyone to enjoy family-friendly activities and to appreciate the diversity within our community.

Becoming the Dan Godwin Community Center

This structure was built in 1905 as the McLeod homestead on a large farm several miles northwest of here. It was later moved to the present location in order to make way for the I-5 freeway. The Boutwell family purchased it in 1956 and raised their seven children in this house. After Mr. Boutwell died those seven brothers and sisters agreed to sell the property to the Godwin Family to further the mission of The Arc of Whatcom County.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life, increase the independence, and assure the full inclusion in the community of all persons with developmental disabilities.

The Godwin Family purchased the property for The Arc in memory of their son Daniel Aaron Godwin. As a young adult and in his passing, he is being honored by raising community awareness about the need for social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and the need for a place where people of all ages and abilities can come together, have fun and “never meet a stranger.”

Daniel’s legacy of valuing every individual’s spirit of hope, compassion and joy lives on.

This huge project began July 2004 and was completed April 2007. It was accomplished with the help of many citizens concerned about the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

The renovation to convert a single family residence into an ADA commercial code building took 33 months at a cost of $630,000 (not including the building purchase price). Donations of material and labor came from Whatcom County businesses, friends of The Arc and people touched by the mission of the project from all over the United States. Thousands of dollars in grants were procured. Not one cent of program dollars was diverted from serving people with developmental disabilities to make The Arc’s Dan Godwin Community Center a reality.

This 3,000 square foot building consists of a recreation hall, community conference center, volunteer work stations and community kitchen, all designed with people with disabilities in mind.

Outside

Due to the commercial status of the site, the City of Bellingham required 16 parking stalls. The new parking lot was created by using about half pervious concrete and about half reinforced grass paving. The Arc determined that much of the required parking could be used as a grass outdoor event and recreation area. The reinforced grass in the parking area allows the space to be used for both parking and recreation depending on the need.

The trees outlining the lawn and the many flowering plants and scrubs were planted by volunteers. Several hundred volunteers and many more hours were dedicated to accomplish this as well as the construction of the retaining wall to the lower entrance. Future plans include an accessible garden pathway of pavers with the names of donors engraved and a soothing water feature. The three large fruit bearing apple trees are over 50 years old and have been pruned by volunteers in the spring. There are also six new young trees, three flowering cherry and three flowering plum.

Recreation Hall

Donors have given the wonderful games such as the air hockey table, which is a favorite of the youngsters. The Book Nook was created by Tom Godwin and provides leisure reading opportunities for all ages. We have plans for an audio visual system soon to be installed for entertaining by showing movies on a large wall-mounted flat screen TV. We raised one third of the funding needed for a wheelchair lift for the stairway. You will notice in the restroom, lighting comes on when you enter without the need to touch a switch. Bathroom fixtures are accommodating and easy to access. The outdoor patio fenced off from the street provides a safe place for basketball and a picnic area.

Main Floor

The kitchen cabinets and stove were installed with universal design in mind (accessibility to all). The workstations are built at varying heights to accommodate different wheelchair sizes. Much of the volunteer work happens on this floor. The conference room is available for community meetings. The open spacing of rooms and incandescent lighting were the direct result of much planning. Our reception area is the job training site for one of our employees who is learning the reception skills needed to assist our guests with the help of a job coach.

Top Floor

The top floor houses the offices of The Arc of Whatcom County. This support center houses The Parent Coalition, Down syndrome Outreach, and Young Adult Self Advocacy programs.  The Parent Coalition produces the Parent Coalition Newsletter. Their total distribution reaches some 1,800 homes.

About Dan Godwin and The Dan Godwin Family Foundation

Dan GodwinDaniel Aaron Godwin was a young man who for 20 years required 24-hour care and numerous medical interventions to survive daily life. He taught those around him the real meaning of living in the now. His actions were always direct, sincere and without hesitation. He loved to spend time in the presence of others. He never met a stranger. We will remember Daniel for touching so many lives and the lessons he taught us.

As a toddler, he had the wonderful honor of being a poster child for the March of Dimes and was responsible for raising awareness about the need for medical research.

His fun-loving spirit always shined through his many challenges. If he discovered that something he did was considered humorous, he would repeat it with great expectation on his face. He loved laughter.

He demonstrated child-like unconditional love and concern. One of his most spontaneous sentences was “Are you OK?” He gave huge unsolicited hugs to anyone who appeared to have a weakened spirit.

We were never able to teach him to tell a stranger his full name, address or age. Instead he taught us there should be no strangers, and knowing name, address or age is not as important as knowing: Are you OK? Do you need the warmth of another’s arms wrapped around you?

Instead of us teaching him the many skills needed to live a more independent life, he taught us much about the skill of interdependent living. As a young adult and in his passing, he is being honored by raising community awareness about the need for social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and the need for a place where people of all ages and abilities can come together, have fun and never meet a stranger.

Daniel’s legacy of valuing every individual’s spirit of hope, compassion and joy lives on.

Pictures from Community Service Day:

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