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.
Marguerite Butler is happy to talk – about herself, about her friends, about her hometown – but her gratitude is the first thing a stranger notices.
She’s grateful for SPiN Café, for the meals, for the companionship, for the times when she could get out of the cold at SPiN’s old location. She’s grateful for the Haven shelter, where she sleeps most nights. So grateful, in fact, that she’s the last to leave because she cleans the restroom every morning.
From Your SPiN Executive Director
SPiN Cafe’s feeding program has grown 250% since switching to sack meal distribution in March. Last month, May 2020, we served an amazing 527 meals at Flintstone Park on Bayshore Drive.
We are delighted to have seven local churches volunteer to make and distribute these vital meals to those in need in our community six days a week, Monday through Saturday. These volunteers donate over 500 hours per month in order to maintain our program. Our guests express their appreciation on a regular basis.
Dear SPiN Café Supporter,
Please take a moment to review our quarterly newsletter.
We, on the SPiN Board, have worked with our staff in the last couple months to adapt to the Covid 19 situation and to focus on what we have done since the beginning…feed folks in need.
She’s wearing a mask, but she's still smiling.
Board member Tom Saunders expresses gratitude and wonder at Laurel's dedication, as she serves sack meals and assists guests with their laundry. Saunders says the seven churches who serve with her each week thoroughly enjoy working with her, and “Laurel sees opportunities to help our guests and initiates the dialogue to bring solutions to their needs. She is an absolute delight to be around and we’re blessed to have her in the SPiN Organization.”
We managed to pull her from her duties long enough to answer a few questions.
A note from Tom Saunders:
Together with our fabulous volunteers and their churches, SPiN Cafe is now serving sack meals to our guests SIX DAYS A WEEK, from Monday through Saturday! The most recent to join our outstanding group is the Oak Harbor United Methodist Church. Janice Hayes and her team will be preparing meals and serving on Saturdays, beginning May 2nd. With the recent addition of Friday service beginning on May 1st, we have grown from serving three days a week on March 17th with 3 churches, to a total of 7 churches participating today. Dreams do come true!
SPIN Café announced today that we will restart our laundry services this week, which is tremendous news. The program was on hold for over a month to protect the health of our guests and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Thursday, April 30, SPiN will provide washing and drying at no charge at the Dutch Maid Laundry, 75 S.E. Barrington Drive, in Oak Harbor.
This will be a weekly service, every Thursday from 6:30 - 9:30 AM. Guests will be asked to follow social distancing precautions on site.
Shannon McLeod sensed a lull, and decided to do something about it.
When Oak Harbor’s Living Word Church put programs on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McLeod, the congregation’s Discipleship Pastor, saw members of the Legacy internship program facing isolation and searching for purpose.
“These are people in training for the ministry, and the stay-at-home orders have been hard because they’re used to having something to work on. They are young adults, not just adults, which I think makes it even harder to be isolated and stagnant. Even though they live in a group situation, they still faced that lack of motivation.”
Properly masked and distanced, Living Word interns (l-r) Carter Liddycoat, Samantha Welch, and Kayla Rose serve a SPiN Café guest at Flintstone Park on Bayshore Drive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, meals are available at 11:30AM Monday through Thursday, plus alternating Fridays. SPiN hopes to fill the need for service on weekends as well.
By Carol Wall
The generous resources of our Oak Harbor community have yielded help for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America Daily Bread Grant program, SPiN Cafe recently received nearly $3000 from members of our community and a $500 direct grant from the ELCA Hunger Program
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