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.
Another quarter, another three solid months of increased service from SPiN Cafe.
SPiN Executive Director Tom Saunders recently released stats comparing monthly meals served in all of 2019 and through August of this year.
In years past,” said Saunders, “we only served hot dinner meals indoors three days a week to those persons in need. With the response we have seen from our 2020 operations since mid-March, the sack meal program is reaching far more people than before and as such, consideration must be given to maintaining the program after we are able to serve hot meals indoors once again.”
Monthly increases this year are partly due to a gradual move to seven-day-a-week service, which we achieved in Augustthanks to the volunteer efforts from churches and community groups from all over the North Whidbey area. As meal service numbers increased, so did the number of volunteer hours.
SPiN isn’t finished yet with our growing efforts to serve the community. A return to evening meal service, and a reimagined day center during the approaching colder weather months, are on the horizon.
This will require a new influx of support from the community, both financially and in volunteer assistance.
Meanwhile, the numbers continue to bear it out: SPiN’s reach to serve the community is increasing, and the community, more and more, is giving back.
In some good news amidst uncertain times, SPiN Cafe received grants last month that will go far in support of our service to the Whidbey Island community.
SPiN received $5,000 from the Safeway – Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief fund. We got this wonderful news on July 27 from Sara Osborne, Safeway’s Director of External Affairs.
Asked for a reaction, SPiN Executive Director Tom Saunders said the grant will help cover the additional overhead and meal costs brought about due to Covid-19. The grant is “very important to the survival of SPiN Cafe,” Saunders said, “as we have seen a decline in regular donations since March.”
To help in the interim, Island County has also chipped in with a $8,750 grant under the federal CARES Act for social service organizations affected by COVID-19. This was a huge help and was specifically allocated for groups like SPiN who have seen support decline in the pandemic.
“Given the totality of what everyone is facing,” says Saunders, “it is understandable that so many are being prudent with their finances just as we are at SPiN Cafe. We are very fortunate to have so many volunteers involved with making sandwiches and assembling the sack meals for distribution each week since March 17th.”
While volunteers make us successful and keep our costs down, there are still very real expenses in providing meals – now seven days a week, averaging nearly thirty a day – to our neighbors. Thank you to Safeway, and to the people of Island County, for your support.