We are now at a critical juncture, and we are in need of your assistance. The lease at our existing facility off Bayshore expires December 31, 2019. The owner refuses to accept any dialogue about negotiating a new lease and is more interested in not facilitating having “those people” in the Pioneer Way area. Since homeless people, and those living with poverty, are not a protected class, we have no rights to pursue the matter further on the basis of discrimination. We are an island with minimal lease space available in Oak Harbor that is accessible to vital services needed by those we serve. In the spaces we have found, we are not a suitable tenant in the eyes of the owners, citing conflict with other clients in their building.
Meanwhile, a space a few blocks away is on hold indefinitely due to the cost of improvements needed to serve our guests.
So…. as of January 1, 2020 we will no longer be able to provide daytime shelter or evening meals, unless a suitable space is found. Meal service alternatives are being discussed within our faith community, but even there, it is often times difficult. Our neighbor churches have daily operations which utilize the space we would need. Further complicating matters is that they have no space available during the daytime hours to shelter our guests from the elements.
I don’t profess to have all the answers nor a magic wand to create the space SPiN Café requires. We have tapped all known avenues to solve this dilemma and now ask our community to assist us with alternatives.
Please consider these facts about people experiencing poverty, right here in our community:
- Daytime shelter, where we provide coffee and any donated foods, serves around 35-40 guests per day. Our budget allows us to keep the doors open Monday through Friday, but not on weekends.
- We have not been able to find a new location that can provide us space to continue this operation.
- Meal Services, which we now provide Tuesday through Thursday serves between 50-60 guests per service and is open from 4:00 to 6:00.
- To date, one generous church has agreed to open their doors on Thursdays. We continue our outreach efforts to locate others.
- We are blessed to have another church who permits us use of their kitchen to prepare food on Tuesday and Thursday every week. We are grateful for their generosity.
- A third church prepares and delivers our Wednesday evening meals in addition to providing volunteers who serve the meals to our guests.
- Preparing meals requires storage space for freezers, refrigerators, dry goods, and all the equipment used to cook and serve meals. This is a far more complicated item to resolve. Refrigerators and freezers are not transportable and require space which most churches do not have available.
Donated funds are our lifeline, and as always we count on your generosity to keep going. But at this time we need something extra. We need prayers and creativity and acceptance and kindness from our community to find a new place for our guests in desperate need.
To make it clear:
Without a new place for SPiN, dozens of our guests who now gratefully accept a cup of coffee, a warm place out of the weather, and a little dignity, will be outside in the elements every day.
I ask you to please consider the needs of our guests, the requirements to continue our service, and the alternative our guests will face in the absence of SPiN Café. I remain prayerful that a solution will be found in the next couple weeks and none of us at SPiN will rest until we do. Please keep us in your prayers as well, and if you can, or know someone who can, provide us with our own space, please reach out to me as soon as possible. Thank you for your time to read this and may God Bless you all.
Tom Saunders, representing the SPiN Café Board of Directors, can be reached via email at email@example.com.