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.
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.
“I’m a pretty organized guy,” says Marc Stroud. “Most people who know me would agree. But it’s even more important to build consensus. As a leader, I’m driven by consensus.”
The Associate Pastor of Oak Harbor Lutheran Church knows SPiN Cafe well. He served as our Board President until two years ago. After reassuming the role from Bob Wall, he’s excited to face 2020’s latest challenges and bring a new direction that redefines the way SPiN serves our community.
Asked about SPiN’s future, Pastor Stroud pauses to contemplate a worldwide pandemic and the vast changes it has brought to our local Whidbey Island scene. Just last January, SPiN was without a home, struggling to provide three hot meals a week at two local churches. But “we’ve found something we do well, really well,” he says. “We serve lunches. We’re doing a great job at it, and it has been an important service for homeless people and other hungry folks. Our lunch service also provides a great opportunity for those who want to help us with our mission of Serving People in Need.”
Stroud comes to SPiN’s mission with deep commitment to working with those in extreme poverty. When living in Portland, OR, he helped establish “Bread and Prayer” to feed and serve at Union Gospel Mission. And, at Luther Place in Washington, DC, Stroud worked at the edge of the “Great Burnout” section devastated by the riots of the late 1960s. He saw “great poverty… and great anger” there in those times, and he understands the rage and despair that naturally arise from a constant struggle to survive. He sees clear parallels to those days in the unrest and protests across the country this year.
“After the end of COVID,” Stroud says, “of course we want to continue to provide the lunches we’ve discovered we do so well.” Beyond that, he and the Board envision a return to a regular evening meal program with a reliable and warm indoor day center “where people can get a cup of coffee, stay out of the weather, and talk to each other.”
Like people do in a community.
SPiN Executive Director Tom Saunders is excited to have Stroud back at the wheel. “It has been great working with Marc the past few weeks,” Saunders says. “His organizational skills will do well at building the foundation for SPiN Cafe’s growth for the future.”
Pastor Stroud sees a great opportunity to build consensus and support among businesses and institutions in Oak Harbor, “to let them know that we’re still here, we’re part of the community, and we want to collaborate with them. We want to build synergy and work together.”
In 2018, for a previous article, Pastor Stroud was happy to discuss the strong work his Lutheran parishioners brought to SPiN Cafe. Today, he’s back behind the wheel, bringing solid leadership in uncertain times.
Many thanks to Pastor Marc Stroud for your devotion to SPiN Cafe.
Thanks to another pledge of help from our community, this time from our neighbors at NAS Whidbey, we have expanded our sack meal program to include Sunday service.
Please see the bottom of this page for a map and service hours. Edit: since this post was published, our sack lunch service has moved. Please join us for sack meals at Hal Ramaley Memorial Park 256 Bayshore Drive in Oak Harbor (across street from the ball parks) Monday – Sunday at 12:15 PM-1:15 PM
SPiN now serves sack meals at Hal Ramaley Park in Oak Harbor, seven days a week. Just five months ago, our curbside, socially-distanced sack meal effort was a desperate, stopgap, three-day-a-week idea – a Point of Light, to coin a phrase from a former US President – in a cold winter as the pandemic hit town and our host churches were forced to close their doors. Now, at last, it’s a full-court, seven-day, ongoing effort to fight hunger in our town while we maintain the dignity of our guests.
“She asked if there was anything they could do to assist SPiN Cafe as opposed to starting a food drive on their own,” says Saunders. “…within a week they verified that they would like to host Sunday meals for SPiN Cafe at the park! We are delighted to welcome them to our family of volunteers and are so grateful that our Sack Meal Program now serves people in need 7 days a week!”
Last month, Saunders says, operating 6 days a week, SPiN Cafe served over 750 meals.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of support for our program from our community, and we foresee this program continuing in the future.”
In related news, Saunders has been in discussions with SPiN’s church partners regarding dinner services commencing once again. Procedures are currently being drafted, he says, to meet guidelines set forth by the State and Church Diocese.
“There are several factors that need to be met in addition to the procedures which involve manpower planning. Due to the cleaning requirements, we anticipate a significant increase to our labor costs and to demands for volunteers. Our guests and all of those involved with SPiN Cafe are anxious to resume dinner services, but not before every precaution is taken to safeguard the health of our guests, staff and all volunteers.”
Thank you, Tom Saunders, for your efforts. And in these uncertain times, a huge thank you to the dedicated men and women from VAQ-209, the Star Warriors, for your service to our nation and to our local neighbors in need.
SPiN’s sack meal service now operates daily: at Hal Ramaley Memorial Park 256 Bayshore Drive in Oak Harbor (across street from the ball parks) Monday – Sunday at 12:15 PM-1:15 PM
There is no charge, but we are always grateful for donations.