For Doug Wight, his philanthropy begins when people in need walk through his office door or share their thoughts in a sandwich and soup line.
Wight, the owner of Windermere Property Management, manages rental properties for landlords. Potential tenants must provide financial information to lease an apartment. “From time to time, we come across people who need (financial) help,” Wight said. “It may be a veteran who hasn’t found a job, or a family struggling with their kids’ medical expenses. Now and then we draw from company funds to help them through a tough time.”
“Volunteers are from different congregations and work together to help the homeless, despite differences in doctrine or faiths. People are now graduating out of the program, finding jobs, and qualifying to pay rent.”
–Doug Wight. Owner, Windermere Property Management
Doug’s involvement with his church takes this personal mission a step further. Northlake Community Church belongs to the Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County, a nonprofit comprising 50 churches and other entities that help people deal with homelessness and poverty. Doug and his wife, Lynn, occasionally serve sandwiches and soup as volunteers in downtown Bellingham, which Interfaith does four nights a week. “People come through the line, you chat, and they share with you,” he said.
The Wight’s daughter, Carolyn Roy, is Manager of Housing in Interfaith’s new Family Promise program. It mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to feed and shelter homeless families in unused church halls throughout Whatcom County. Those families sleep overnight in beds and tents inside and then are taken after breakfast to a day-center house in north Bellingham, where they shower and depart for work or school.
These endeavors came together in a perfect storm for Doug Wight: He saw the need through his business and his Interfaith volunteer work. “Family Promise provides a loving, caring environment for these families,” he said. “Volunteers come from different congregations and work together to help the homeless, despite differences in doctrine or faith. It’s an example of the warmth in our human nature and it’s wonderful to see the successes. People are now graduating out of the program, finding jobs, and qualifying to pay rent.”
Laura Harker, Executive Director of Interfaith, pointed to Wight as an example of the business community’s commitment to philanthropy. “He’s a generous auction sponsor, both as a business and as an individual,” Laura said. Furthermore, she added, Windermere Property Management provides off-hours emergency service to tenant families in Interfaith housing. “They provide 10 housing units, at no charge. And if an emergency happens in a unit in the middle of the night or on weekends, the tenant calls Windermere and an employee calls a repair person, which Interfaith pays for. Without this coverage, I don’t know what we would do. We only have a half-time property manager who can’t be on-call 24/7.”
Doug also makes himself available for free advice on landlord-tenant issues, and his company paid its attorney to help Interfaith with the legal work involved in acquiring a house for another of its programs.
“When you’re in this line of work,” Doug said, “you see that the fabric of our community does include folks in need. We identify, now and then, where we can help.”