As Fairhaven grows, the Historic Fairhaven Association (HFA) has grown with it – 32 percent in the last year alone, from 87 to 115 members. It’s a number the Association easily sees doubling as it works to achieve its stated mission of promoting and preserving Fairhaven Village year-round.

A vision statement was added in early 2019, when the HFA started looking to the 50th anniversary of its formation in 2022. The association formed in 1972 and officially incorporated in the 1980s. A Visioning Committee focused on what makes Fairhaven unique, and where they see the Village and HFA growing in the next five years and beyond.

“The HFA stays united behind the driving force of its Mission, which holds everything in place. The Vision keeps it moving forward. It’s why people get involved,” said HFA President Ria Van Weerdhuizen.

HFA’s Mission & Vision

Mission: To promote Fairhaven as a community while preserving the historical character.

Vision: To preserve and inspire a vibrant village by creating and fostering unique experiences and connections.

Involvement means volunteering for one of the more than 15 HFA committees that volunteer business owners, non-profit organizations, and residents collaborate on. More than 45 people learn, create, and serve on those committees, which include:

  • Advertising and Marketing – Helps promote the district to tourists, as well as in-district events to residents and tourists alike. They produce the Fairhaven Map and Guide and work in partnership with Whatcom County Tourism, which assists the mission to promote Fairhaven.
  • Parking – Takes a lead role on the structure and beautification of the historic district. They are strong advocates for preservation, while balancing business and tourism needs.
  • Events – The HFA hosts eight large events, including Winterfest, Dirty Dan Day, and Fairhaven Festival, as well as its 4th Friday Art Walks. The nearly 20 annual events draw large crowds – and it’s all hosted by volunteers.

Van Weerdhuizen started with the HFA by volunteering with The Events Committee.

“Through their work with a committee, people’s understanding of the Fairhaven district expands. They start to realize the larger community that’s actually at work, and get really connected and involved. It’s satisfying to see volunteers’ loyalty and love for their committee and the work it does,” she said.

This was apparent in 2019’s Winterfest Committee, whose volunteers were excited to work together planning 2019’s big holiday event.

This is important in fostering community. Research shows the detrimental health effects of isolation, and remedies include giving back and getting involved in community. The HFA offers just that, encouraging residents and businesses to become members and volunteer on its committees. To ensure everyone in the Village is connected, the HFA offers a weekly Updates email. Join the list by emailing updates@fairhaven.com.  

Over the next five years, the Board hopes to expand the HFA’s reach in Southside, and continue to build partnership with the city.

“People are definitely interested in Fairhaven. We have more residents, and see the construction and businesses coming in,” Van Weerdhuizen said. “As Bellingham grows, we continue to grow with them and have a voice.”

Courtesy of Southside Living | Written by Lauren Phillips

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