A day at SPiN Cafe

Have you ever wondered what we do here at Spin Cafe?  What does Serving People in Need mean? 

Upon opening at 6:30AM, people have started arriving by van from the Haven, with some folks already waiting on the porch for us to open the door.  The morning staff person already has coffee ready, hot water on for tea or oatmeal, and cereal out for breakfast.  There is a constant stream of people getting settled at their tables, washing up, and having breakfast.  It is a busy time of the day for us.

A calm place, where humanity and dignity are respected, brings welcome relief.

By about 8:30, plans have been made for the day and many guests go about their business by catching the Island Transit or walking to Safeway, Walmart, Walgreens, the Garage of Blessings or other locations.  Someone hops on a computer to check their email, social media or to look for information.  At some point someone picks out a movie to watch.

By about 10 am, we see some of our guests resting or taking a nap—a few of our guests have been walking all night and come to SPiN to rest.  Some of our guests get out puzzles, games or art supplies to spend the day by.  We help our guests with socks, personal hygiene products, razors, nail clippers—many of the things you and I just go to our own bathrooms for.  Our staff members start helping guests connect to resources like Island County Human Services, Opportunity Council, or Skagit Valley College. We help make medical appointments or arrange transportation to medical appointments.  Often, we help guests navigate online platforms to look for housing, or connect to websites like Social Security or the DMV. We help guests obtain an official copy of their birth certificate or a myriad of other online tasks.  One of us may run to the DMV to pay a renewal of a guest’s ID or Driver’s license.  All these efforts are SPiN’s way of helping our guests move out of homelessness, navigate the ever-increasing online platforms, meet a need for food and hydration, or just be a welcoming presence.

By 11:30 or so one of our partner churches has delivered sandwiches or wraps, and we prepare to serve lunch.  Some guests who left in the morning come back, sit down and break bread together as a community. 

Afternoons at SPiN are much like the mornings: our guests go to appointments, get on the computers, or pass time with games and puzzles.  Sometimes counselors, social workers or other people meet our guests at SPiN.  The afternoon also brings guests that are not homeless, but who need to get something to eat, use Wi-Fi, or just need to be around others in community.

Several of our guests have mental health conditions that prevent them from engaging with others in ways that you or I might consider ‘normal.’  Our staff members communicate with these precious individuals in ways that build trust and respect boundaries. SPiN is the only safe space many of these people have.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Fridays we serve a dinner meal starting at 4:15 pm and ending at 5:30 pm thanks to an ARPA grant we received from Island County.  These meals are nutritionally balanced and are always served with a tasty green salad. Our cook, Tangiler, prepares these meals at Whidbey Presbyterian Church and transports them to SPiN Cafe where we have a team of volunteers serving our guests.  Again, we see folks in community with each other, sitting at the tables enjoying good, wholesome food. 

Dinners at SPiN are simple, but there’s plenty to eat and it’s always made with love.

Many of our guests help clean up after meals and before leaving by van back to the Haven night shelter.  By 5:30 the guests have left and we typically finish the final cleaning and restocking by 6:00 pm.  SPiN Café is a community center and ‘home’ for people who don’t have a home or who don’t have any other place to be in community with others.

We would love for you to join our team as a volunteer.  Can you do puzzles with guests?  Can you sit next to someone and draw or paint?  Do you have a skill you would like to share?  Just the act of serving coffee is precious and needed.