In some good news amidst uncertain times, SPiN Café 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 Café,” 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 Café. 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.
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.
SPiN now serves sack meals at Flintstone Park, on the corner of Dock Street and Bayshore 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.
SPiN Executive Director Tom Saunders says this final step began with an email from the Volunteer Coordinator for VAQ 209 at NAS Whidbey Island.
“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:
12:15PM until 1:45PM
There is no charge, but we are always grateful for donations.
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