For Immediate Release
Mar 26, 2020

Contact: Hilary Canty,
Orcas Island Community Foundation

This community is showing up! So far 101 friends and neighbors have donated $192,000 to the Community Emergency Response Fund (CERF). REMARKABLE! Thank you, Team Orcas! The CERF advisory team (Lisa Byers, OPAL, Erin O’Dell, OCRC, Brian Moss, Orcas Community Church,  Berto Gandara, Emmanuel Episcopal, Judy Scott, OICF, and Hilary Canty, OICF) has made the second round of distributions this week and grants will be made to the Food Bank ($15,000), the Orcas Community Resource Center ($25,000), and OPAL Community Land Trust ($40,000). This is on top of the $50,000 that was distributed last week (Food Bank-$20,000, OCRC, $10,000, Senior Center-$10,000, and OPAL-$10,000). All told, $130,000 has been distributed. These grants are unrestricted and intended to provide support to the organizations that are gearing up to meet the growing needs of the island. The checks are being safely hand-delivered in self-sticking envelopes by Jen Wallace, so no licking and no postal delays.

OPAL is providing case management to help individuals and families in need of rental or mortgage assistance. They will also coordinate with a team of volunteers to help businesses access resources that are becoming available through county, state and federal programs. The CERF grant will enable OPAL to distribute funds immediately for islanders who need help now. The priority is to keep people in their homes.

The Food Bank saw a 100% increase in customers this week and had a challenge when the meat that they had ordered did not arrive. Luckily Ray Southern of the Kingfish at West Sound was able to reach out to his supplier and secured beef for the next Food Bank distribution day. The Food Bank is also contracting with many local farms to purchase food subscriptions for families who want them. CERF grants are helping make those efforts possible.

The Orcas Community Resource Center is seeing an increase in their client base, as well as deeper needs within existing clients. They have an emergency fund that allows them to provide critical support for issues such as medical, transportation, and utilities. They also have the Coates Cabinet that provides free household essentials such as soap, diapers, and hygiene supplies that are not available through the Food Bank. Having access to CERF funds ensures these supports are available now when they are most needed.

The Senior Center saw a remarkable rise in its home-delivered nutrition program. It doubled last week and quadrupled this week. The CERF funding has allowed them to cover the immediate covering costs of ramping up this program.

The CERF advisory team had planned weekly meetings but added additional meetings to keep up with the quickly changing landscape of needs. Getting financial resources out to these critical support organizations ensures that the services our most vulnerable neighbors rely on will continue to be available and expanded as needed.

If you would like to contribute to the fund, please go to If you prefer to give to the organizations directly, that is equally great. Right now, the important part is that you give. This is the time to be strong for this community. Working together, we will make it through this. Stay well.