Derek Thornton, Vice President and Controller at Peoples Bank, has long been an active supporter of Lydia Place, a Bellingham-based nonprofit that provides housing, education and case management to homeless families in Whatcom County. He has served on the organization’s board of directors for four years, using his expertise as an accountant to help Lydia Place as board treasurer. He also takes great pride in working for a company that supports nonprofits in the communities it serves.
“I have a big fairness and justice streak,” says Derek. “When I learned that on any given evening there are between sixty and eighty kids under the age of eighteen in Whatcom County who are homeless, that really pulled at me. Some people get involved in this kind of work because they’ve seen it and experienced it. I come to it from the opposite perspective. I’ve seen what it looks like to have support, and what it looks like to have a family and a safety network and all of those things. I know how hard my life has been even with all that. I can’t imagine how hard life would be without these things.”
Lydia Place was established in 1989 as a transitional housing facility for homeless women, but has expanded over the years to offer a variety of social services while raising awareness of the faces and causes of homelessness. For many years, Lydia Place has been able to rely on the steady support of Peoples Bank.
The Lydia Place Hearts for Housing Gala and Auction, held every February around Valentine’s Day with the goal of “joining hearts to house the homeless,” is Lydia Place’s largest fundraising event, and an important sponsorship event for Peoples Bank. The bank also sponsors smaller events in support of Lydia Place throughout the year.
“Supporting organizations like Lydia Place is an extension of Peoples Bank’s core values,” says Derek. “Our culture is about honesty, integrity, and doing the right thing. Being involved in the community is the right thing to do.”