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For the Love of Fairhaven: Historic Fairhaven Association’s Annual Appreciation Brunch Event

August 29, 2019

Ria Van Weerdhuizen, Tina Ruff and Scott Ward

Ria Van Weerdhuizen, Tina Ruff and Scott Ward discuss the annual brunch plans. Photo credit: Carol Lo

By Carol Lo and Tina Stacy for WhatcomTalk | WhatcomTalk

To call something a labor of love is often a cliché, but in the case of the Historic Fairhaven Association’s board members, it seems apt. We recently met with Board President Ria Van Weerdhuizen, Brunch Chairman and Board Member Tina Ruff, and Executive Director Scott Ward to talk about this fall’s second annual For the Love of Fairhaven brunch event.

At their office-away-from-the-office, The Colophon Café, none of them even glance at the menu to know what they want to order. Their affection for Fairhaven, each other, and their mission is palpable.

According to Van Weerdhuizen, the Historic Fairhaven Association’s mission is “to create and foster unique connections and experiences.” The association believes Fairhaven is a treasure and works to preserve and also share it with those who know it well—and those who are just discovering the town.

Last year, the first For the Love of Fairhaven brunch was held at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal to acknowledge the volunteers and businesses that contribute to Fairhaven’s special character. This year, the brunch will celebrate a Lifetime Achievement Award (now named for Ken Imus), Behind the Scenes Superstar, Exemplary Leadership, Business of the Year, and Community Visionary Award.

The brunch, open to all at $45 per ticket, will be held September 29th at the Cruise Terminal. You can nominate someone deserving on the Historic Fairhaven Association website:

Award winners will be announced at the event and raffle and auction items, such as cruises, artwork and The Fairhaven Experience, will be up for bids. “The brunch is fun and nice, and a great thing to do on a Sunday morning,” says Ruff. “People are engaged for the good of the community, not recognition, but we like to let a few stars know their contributions are appreciated.”

The Historic Fairhaven Association is supported by about 110 members, both businesses and individuals. Anyone can join this worthy organization. The group keeps membership dues affordable with a multi-tiered structure ranging from individuals at $50 per year to small businesses with more than 16 employees at $150 per year. (Fun fact: individual memberships make up 25% of the association!)

“The organization embraces the idea that ‘We’re all in this together’ in both celebration and hard times,” says Van Weerdhuizen. She says there have been times when an association member was facing difficulties and the organization stepped up to rally support.

Van Weerdhuizen’s employer, Peoples Bank, has been involved with the HFA since the bank arrived in the Haggen grocery location 20 years ago. She still marvels at how warmly she was embraced by the community. “Generally, we train our employees to be welcoming to bank customers,” she says. “But here, the customers are so quick to introduce themselves and welcome our employees to the neighborhood that it’s [been] the other way around.” Read More...