“Hi, can I help you?”
Tangiler London smiles at a guest, answers a question, and refocuses on her work.
As a former SPIN guest who now manages SPIN’s coffee shop, Tangiler has seen a lot of changes, and she’s happy to know she’s been a part of making it a better place.
While the urgency builds to find a new location as of January 1st, Tangiler knows SPIN’s guests are being served well in the meantime.
As it should be.
Tangiler believes it’s all about setting standards. SPIN is here to serve everyone, to provide a welcoming place for all. But there have to be rules, she says, and it’s crucial that everyone – SPIN guests, members of the community, law enforcement, and even our supporters – know that the rules are applied consistently.
SPIN’s coffee shop faces a year-end relocation as its lease on Bayshore Drive ends. But Tangiler remains confident. She believes without a doubt that members of the Oak Harbor community, even those still unsure of SPIN’s value to our island, will come around.
“We need to keep our place clean, deal with problems, and insist that our guests follow our standards.” If SPIN’s guests set an example of neighborly behavior, she says, the rest of the community will support us.
Along with SPIN’s board, Tangiler acknowledges that some guests have not felt safe at SPIN in the past, and that extends to downtown neighbors nearby. “We can’t deny the problems that a few of our guests have caused in the past. If we’re going to be here for everyone, we need to address that.”
This means Tangiler and coworker Laken Sennett have to take the tough step of letting some guests know they’re not welcome back. It’s a heartbreaking task, and sometimes it involves calling the police. Just discussing it brings sadness to Tangiler’s face. Vulnerable people, disqualified from SPIN and from the Haven overnight shelter due to substance abuse or disruptive behavior, have died right here on our own Oak Harbor streets.
Tangiler sighs. “But we still have to keep SPIN safe for the rest of our guests. We don’t have any choice, if we want to stay open.”
In a statement to the press a month ago, SPIN Board spokesman Tom Saunders agreed. The statement acknowledged that “some guests and volunteers did not feel safe at SPIN Café; that enhanced screening, training, and management of staff and volunteers is vital; that a code of conduct and ethics is crucial to conform with best practices in social services; and that service to our most vulnerable neighbors must always take priority in operations.”
Back at the SPIN coffee shop, the visits from police have gotten more congenial. Island County Human Services provides regular visits from counselors and housing experts. Over the horizon, there’s uncertainty. But today, and tomorrow and into next month at least, things are moving in the right direction.
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