About Us

Evergreen Supported Living is a local non-profit organization that offers support services to adults with developmental disabilities in Bellingham, Washington. Established in 1982, Evergreen takes pride in fostering dignity and independence by providing support to allow Evergreen's valued clients to be active participants in the greater community.

Statement Of Philosophy

In structuring our programs and working with our participants, we value a balance among the following: 

  • Adapting our services to participant's needs
  • Participant's rights to privacy
  • Encouraging relationships with family and other individuals
  • Community integration with non-disabled persons as much as possible
  • Providing the most autonomous environment while ensuring personal security and safety

Our History

In early 1982, a Special Education teacher at the Redwood School in Bellingham Washington approached the parents of three other students, suggesting that an adult family home be established to house their three children who were young adults at the time. The parents had previously attempted to house their children in various private institutions and local group homes, but all had been informed that the severity of their children's disorders prevented successful placements.

In February 1982, the parents incorporated to form Evergreen Home Association, in order to provide a specialized family living situation for their children. All three parents formed the original Board of Directors, some remain on the board to this day. The Board of Directors was, and continues to be, a very active and guiding force at Evergreen. In the early days a lot of their time and energy was devoted to raising funds and establishing a stable foundation that is still in place today.

The original group home was one of the first of its kind in the state. In a Bellingham herald article from May of 1982 Evergreen was described as "...distinguished from other state group homes because of the low number of residents, the degree to which the three men are afflicted, and the intensive instruction able to be given." The same article quotes that special education teacher as saying that he believed it was the first such arrangement in the state.

Thus began a long and proud tradition of Evergreen maintaining a strong client focus and leading edge services by adhering to a philosophy of low client and staff turnover, client based programming, a small number of clients, and a strong focus on caring, compassionate, and creative services. Evergreen has always been committed to looking at every individual for what they can do instead of what they cannot do.

A great deal of community support including donations, material support, volunteers, and practicum students helped Evergreen gain and maintain a healthy start. A news letter written around the time for the first anniversary stated, "These young men have been exposed to a variety of experiences in the last year, some completely new to them such as camping, hiking, going to plays, theaters, eating at restaurants, skating, and bowling.

In June of 1984 a supervisor was added to the structure of Evergreen. Funding was a concern from the beginning, because the agency relied so heavily on private monies as well as fund raising activities such as large garage sales. To improve the prospects for a secure funding base through DSHS, a fourth client was added in July of 1984. Another addition around this time was Bernie the Bunny, Evergreen's first pet, who lived behind the house; three staff members were also added.

In the fall of 1984, Evergreen Home Association decided to pursue a residential services contract with the state in an effort to improve training in independent living and community integration, and to insure long term financial stability for the agency. In December of 1984, DSHS awarded Evergreen with an Intensive Tenant Support Services contract. The new contract was administered under the guidance of DDD, as it is today, and the clients moved from a shared home to their own apartments.

In July of 1985, four additional tenants joined Evergreen and in July of 1987 two more joined the program, bringing the total number to ten. Over the years some clients have come and gone, some have passed on, but most of the clients that we serve today have been members of the program for many, many years, including a number of the original ones. Evergreen currently serves 15 clients with more than 45 full and part time staff. Our current staff include a number of whom have been with Evergreen since the late 1980s, and a many others that had left in the past and come back home to Bellingham.

Over the years we have had a couple moves within Bellingham, from the north side on Texas Street to Fairhaven's Happy valley on Douglas Street, and then again to our current base of operations in the Regency Park apartment complex near Civic Field in the year 2000.

Evergreen has been known by a variety of legal names over the years, including the original, Home Association, as well as Tenant Support, Intensive Tenant Support Services, and others. Most recently we have settled on Evergreen Supported Living as the official name of the agency.

As much as things have changed over the years, our core values and essence remains the same. The terminology we use today is different than it was in the beginning, but many of the ideals are the same. A commitment to serving each individual, and adapting our services to our participants needs help to ensure that Evergreen will maintain its reputation within the community and the trust of the family members of each client.