The following article is reprinted from a recent Bellingham At Home newsletter. BAH is a non-profit membership organization modeled on the many successful villages now operating across the country that empower older adults to stay active and engaged while living in their own homes and neighborhoods.  It is a program of the Whatcom Council on Aging.


Spotlight on Marian Yunghans
Reprinted with permission from “Bellingham At Home”

At heart, says educator, writer, and volunteer Marian Yunghans, “I’m an activist. I was born with a fire in my belly.” When she was younger, Marian taught school in Sri Lanka, India, Germany, and Nigeria, where she established a school for the deaf. When she and her husband retired to Sudden Valley 30 years ago—into the model home in Gate 1, where she lives today—the fire was still burning strong.

“So I threw myself into all kinds of projects,” she said, some of them addressing challenges facing seniors. She became Bellingham Senior Activity Center’s Advisory Board president, wrote a column on senior issues for the Bellingham Herald, helped found and then edited Pacific Northwest Retirement Magazine.

Marian Yunghans

She worked as a state communications specialist and a safe driving instructor for AARP and was state coordinator of AARP’s tax assistance program. She was a Red Cross volunteer, serving during floods, fires, hurricanes, and 9/11; she established a disaster preparedness committee in her community; and she served as the public information officer for the local fire district.

Fittingly, in 2008, AARP awarded Marian the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service in Washington.

So here it is 2016, and the fire is still burning, “but as you get older, your energy level goes down and you have to choose your activities more carefully.”

Marian has chosen Bellingham At Home, never mind that Sudden Valley is outside the organization’s borders, making her eligible for our social and educational events but not for volunteer services. “I saw the value of the program and just wanted to support it. I’m 87 and I live alone and I’m very independent, but who knows what next year will bring?”

In the back of her mind, Marian said, she sees that BAH could be “like a gift” to Sudden Valley, where a lot of her neighbors are seniors.  They could easily recruit seven or eight local volunteers of their own to serve the immediate community, she figures.

On November 7, BAH will hold an information meeting about membership in Sudden Valley. Marian, we’re pretty sure, will see to it that it’s well attended.