Summer News: Dinners and a Garden

by Michele Chapman

Along with the exciting return of SPiN Cafe dinners, this summer saw new growth of a different kind. Our afternoon staff member Amira was instrumental in the formation of the small garden area across from the front door of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church where we operate.  She gathered quite a few SPiN guests, some materials, plants, and hard work to transform a neglected patch of ground into a beautiful giving area. 

A little patch of peace and quiet.

We reap from this garden by harvesting lettuce and herbs and are hoping to get some tomatoes soon.  There is definitely “pride in ownership” as the guests weed and water the garden regularly and keep it debris free.  You might be driving by and see a guest or two in the garden under an umbrella—it is a peaceful place to hang out.

SPiN guests proudly build a garden.

SPiN Cafe is grateful to have received an ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grant from Island County this year to fund a return of our dinner service on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays every week.  The dinner meal program was a cornerstone of SPiN Cafe prior to the pandemic and last year we just didn’t have the funding to add this back into our programing. The grant pays for staffing hours, admin costs, food, supplies and some equipment. Our own cook Tangiler prepares these balanced meals at the Whidbey Presbyterian Church and brings them to SPiN Cafe where we have a wonderful team of 7 dedicated volunteers who help with salad prep, serving our guests, and cleanup. We have been serving an average of 25 dinners per night. This program is available to anyone who needs a meal, not just our regular SPiN guests.

With inflation gripping our communities, we are seeing an increase of non-regular guests at our table as well as people coming in to get several to-go dinners. It is very gratifying to see people in community sitting around a table having a meal, conversing, and enjoying each other’s company.

The clock is ticking on this wonderful return to our SPiN Cafe roots. The ARPA grant expires at the end of the year.

You can help. To continue this program, we need to find funding through an increase in monetary donations and/or additional grants. Please contact Michele Chapman at SPiN for information about supporting our dinner program in the future.

Michele Chapman is Executive Director of SPiN Cafe.