Max Higbee Center - Rotary 2020-21 Major Project
Nov 02, 2020
Kait Whiteside, Exec. Director
Max Higbee Center - Rotary 2020-21 Major Project

Bio - Kait attended University of Nevada Reno to swim at the collegiate level and develop a career
path in nonprofit work. After graduating with a BA in journalism with a focus in public relations
for nonprofits, Kait traveled to South America for three months to practice Spanish, volunteer
and build skills in human service work. Among her most rewarding experiences abroad, was the
time volunteering as an assistant teacher and community outreach assistant at Arcos Iris, an
orphanage and school for children with disabilities in Urubamba, Peru. The dedicated teachers
and the students of Arcos Iris shaped Kait’s commitment to building inclusion in communities.

In 2014, Kait found a dream opportunity to combine her passion for recreation and community
work as a Program Manager at Max Higbee Center. As manager, one of Kait’s proudest
achievements was the development of the Higbee Hikers, a program that identifies accessible
trails and offers staff support to participants with developmental disabilities to explore
Bellingham’s beloved trail network. In 2015, Kait received the honor to fill a new leadership role
as Max Higbee Center’s Executive Director. Kait continues to be delighted to work with an
incredibly caring community of people who share in the organization’s vision for a welcoming
community where everyone is supported to learn, grow, and build a healthy, joyful, and selfdirected

Max Higbee Center Summary

Max Higbee Center provides year-round access to community-based recreation, social, health and educational programs for teens and adults with developmental disabilities in Whatcom County. Max Higbee Center strives to disrupt the historic and ongoing discrimination and social exclusion of people with disabilities by creating a safe and welcoming space for inclusive programs that support and empower participants to engage in the community and lead a meaningful, self-directed life. These programs also provide much-needed parent and family support in the form of respite care. More than 50% of Max Higbee Center participants live at home with parents or relatives who often find themselves in a lifelong caregiving role without adequate support or resources. Max Higbee Center programs support families in building resiliency, financial stability, and emotional well-being by affording parents the opportunity to go to work, take care of personal or family obligations, or simply take the time to rest and recuperate while their son or daughter with a disability is in an enriching environment. As a unique resource and leader of inclusion, Max Higbee Center aims to be a model for other communities to follow.

Major Project Summary

Max Higbee Center’s Capital Project will fully remodel 5,000 square feet at 1400 N. State Street in downtown Bellingham in order to triple the Center’s physical capacity to eliminate its growing waiting list that has over 50 individuals and families in need of support and services.  Max Higbee Center’s capital project will extensively remodel the facility to accommodate the diverse needs and goals of programs and participants by creating an accessible, welcoming, safe, functional, and enjoyable space. This project will allow Max Higbee Center to grow and continue to serve individuals with disabilities over the next 25+ years.