Kulshan neighborhood celebrates 2012


The Skagit-Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club awarded bikes to Isabel Cruz (12), Maycol Ibanez (13), and Daniella Becerra (10) from Mt. Vernon, Wash. Story by Kathy Vue.

Family members and children trickled into La Venture Middle School in Mt. Vernon, Wash. in December with homemade dishes in hand. Kulshan Creek neighborhood resource officer Jon Gerondale positioned 10-foot-long lunch tables in four rows to fit 50 children and family members while Sara Detzer from Catholic Housing Services stationed fired statues of animals, canoes and houses sculpted by the children on a table close to the stage. It was the end-of-the-year banquet celebrating another successful year of the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program.

Kulshan Creek Program apprentice Zulan Pantoja and Forest Service staff Orlando Garcia greeted families with a warm welcome as a slide show of nostalgic pictures played on the 20-foot stage screen. Families ate oven braised pork with handmade tortillas and enjoyed a simple night of mingling with each other before the holidays.

Program apprentice Zulan Pantoja and Forest Service staff Orlando Garcia called each child on stage to receive an award and gave each a green t-shirt that has a mommy, daddy and baby eagle on it. Isabel Cruz, 12, Maycol Ibanez, 13, and Daniella Becerra, 10, received a bike donated by the Skagit-Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club for participating in the most events during the year.

The Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program serves one of Skagit Valley’s most diverse communities with 2,400 low-income residents, 65 percent Latino and 40 percent under the age of 18.

In the past year, staff from the Mt. Vernon Police Department, Catholic Housing Services, US Forest Service, and North Cascade Institute hosted a conservation education event every month to connect and engage youth and community members of Kulshan Creek to outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities. Field trips included eagle watching on the Skagit River to learning about glaciers at North Cascades Visitor Center

“It’s fun to see kids excited about the environment, they are endlessly curious and sometimes they are seeing things they have never seen before,” said Sarah Detzer from Catholic Housing Services.

Partners and staff have planned tentative dates for next year. For more information, contact Koreena Haynes or call 360-391-0573.

Story by Kathy Vue