Holland Happening is an Oak Harbor tradition. In its sixth decade, the annual spring festival celebrates the town’s Dutch heritage along with the diverse cultures that call North Whidbey Island home.
2022’s event featured an extra fun dive into the deep end of fun. And fundraising.
According to SPiN board member Carol Wall, “we had a great response to our Dunk Tank at Holland Happening. The tank was a benefit effort for SPiN Cafe and the North Whidbey Sunrise Rotary Walk for Water project. These community leaders brought out lots of people to see them go into the dunk tank. It was a fun event and our two groups raised over $2,300.00 to split between us!”
Community leaders who took a bath for SPiN included City Council members Shane Hoffmire, Jim Woessner, Bryan Stucky, and Dan Evans, as well as New Leaf CEO Steve Jacobs and First United Methodist Pastor Dave Parker.
“It was fifty-one years ago… man, that’s amazing… it was 1971, and a bunch of us in college at Western started a band. We opened for the Chambers Brothers in Bellingham, and that was it. We didn’t need college, we opened for the Chambers Brothers! They were huge! So we moved to Seattle…”
The band morphed into Cold, Bold, and Together, a mainstay of the thriving Seattle funk scene in the 70s. Like Jamar, a guy named Kenny G got his years-long saxophone career started with CBT in the clubs of Seattle.
Fe Mischo has orbited in the SPiN Café universe since the beginning.
When SPiN started out on Bayshore Drive, Fe already knew and respected SPiN founder Vivian Rogers Decker. Fe worked at ECEAP preschool (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program), where she sought out and advocated for families facing financial struggles and homelessness. She dropped off resource materials for families at SPiN, and got a firsthand look at the good things SPiN was doing for Oak Harbor.
“I was homeless myself at one point in my life,” Fe says. “I was 20 years old, with no place to live. All I had was my Nissan, so that’s where I slept. I had too much pride to ask my family for help. So many of us don’t want to acknowledge that we’re just one financial blow away from the streets. For me, it helps that I can relate, personally.”
From those early days of SPiN, Fe saw the way every guest was treated with respect and dignity. She knew this was an organization she could support.
Two years ago, as COVID sent workers and students into isolation, Fe left her job at the preschool to be home with her kids. Like a lot of women – and she’s quick to note accurately that women in the workforce took the blow in disproportionate numbers – Fe refocused her attention on her family while she rode out the lockdowns and closures of the pandemic.
A recent part-time spot serving lunches to SPiN guests drew her back to the workforce. As a longtime friend and supporter of SPiN’s mission, Fe knew exactly what she was getting into, and she’s glad she did. And in an odd happy twist, for this person whose job is to serve, Fe feels the joy and gratitude coming back at her.
Bryan and Carrie Stucky glance at each other in response, like they know their answers will be different.
The question, for the record, was, “How did you get involved supporting SPiN Cafe?”
As a business owner considering a run for City Council last year, Bryan needed to learn more about the people of our town and the issues they face. He’s a board member at North Whidbey Help House, where he sees the business side but is a bit removed from the services they provide. So he started asking questions, and he connected with SPiN Executive Director Michele Chapman, who was happy to help him expand his knowledge.
“It was mostly from a practical perspective,” Bryan says. “It was about business. My wife Carrie looks at it with, I’d say, more compassion.”
Across the table, Carrie smiles and shakes her head. She’s not so sure she has more compassion than Bryan. “But it makes me so sad to see the lack of kindness and understanding in our community about homelessness and poverty.”