Over the past few months we have seen great changes happening in the organization of SPiN Cafe. Because of the restrictive nature of the pandemic, SPiN has had to drop its identity as a cafe and transform its food distribution programs as nomads of sorts. We are reaching out to Whidbey Island’s homeless population from the back of a car. We have been able to serve thousands of sack meals to our guests at Oak Harbor park locations. We have done this with the support of a large army of local volunteers who serve lunches out of their own cars, seven days a week. SPiN Cafe has maintained other services for our guests as well. Laundry vouchers and shower privileges have continued go out to our guests as well as gifts of toiletries, spare clothing and socks donated by the local churches.
A year ago, SPiN Cafe lost its lease and sought simple warmth, out of the weather, for our vulnerable and struggling citizens to have a meal. Two congregations stepped up. Church on the Rock and St. Stephen’s Episcopal, neighbors on Regatta Avenue, provided the welcoming shelter we needed. That is, until COVID-19 put us back on the street in March.
But a year can make a big difference when dedicated people decide to solve a problem.
2020 was a time of tragedy and unprecedented challenge. It was also a year of inspiration, of people driven to make things better, to face adversity, to serve the needs of others.
SPiN Cafe opened the year uncertain of our future, even before COVID-19. On the street due to a lost lease, we were invited to St. Stephen’s Episcopal and to the Church on the Rock to continue our evening meal service – only to see that evaporate with the state restrictions beginning in March.
Michele Chapman has deep roots on Whidbey Island. She comes from two generations of Navy service at NAS Whidbey: her grandfather was stationed and retired in Oak Harbor, and her father, uncle and aunt all graduated from Oak Harbor High School. With her father in the Navy as well, the family traveled the world but returned to Oak Harbor in the late 1970s. Michele graduated from OHHS and has lived most of her adult life right here on Whidbey Island.