Community Health Worker Initiative


The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA) is spearheading a Community Health Worker (CHW) initiative in Whatcom County. The first phase has been a community assessment, which we recently completed with the generous support of PeaceHealth, United Way and the Chuckanut Health Foundation.

The assessment identified existing CHW programs and roles in local organizations, resources for CHW training and development, and successful CHW programs in other parts of the state. We also selected the Latino community in Sumas, Everson, and Nooksack as a “focus community” and began exploring the possibility of a CHW program in this part of the county by identifying potential partnerships and informal leaders.

The Community Health Worker Assessment Report (full report with attachments is located under “Resources”) describes what we learned and recommends next steps for the CHW Initiative. This is a work in progress and the report may be changed or expanded as CHW efforts evolve and we continue to learn. The information was compiled from many different conversations, documents, and websites. We apologize in advance for any errors or oversights, and welcome your corrections, additions, or comments. Please contact us at 360.788.6594 or

The American Public Health Association defines a CHW as “…a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.” This trusted relationship enables CHWs to serve as a link between the community and health or social services, as well as help improve the quality and cultural competence of services and programs.

A CHW’s role can include many kinds of activities such as outreach, health education, system navigation, peer support, and advocacy. The Community Health Worker Task Force Recommendations Report for Healthier Washington outlines three unique capabilities of CHWs:    

  1. Relationship and trust-building with communities of color, underserved, or low-income populations,
  2. Facilitating valuable communication between providers and patients or community members and decision-makers, and
  3. Addressing the social determinants of health at the individual and community level.


Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement Community Health Worker Initiative

*Report & Summary last revised March 12, 2018

Whatcom County Organizations with CHW Programs:

NOTE: There are numerous other Whatcom County organizations with staff who perform some CHW-like functions; please see the Assessment Report  for more information.

Special thanks to Chuckanut Health Foundation, PeaceHealth, Whatcom Community Foundation, and United Way of Whatcom County for supporting the Whatcom County CHW Initiative.