This week, my blood pressure went nuts, and I got on meds and bought a new electric-assist bike.  BP is heading in the right direction and I LOVE MY NEW BIKE!

OICF hosts a weekly Community Check in call on Wednesdays at 8 AM where organizations report on their efforts and needs.  The CERF advisors meet after this meeting to discuss what funding priorities should be.

At this week’s meeting, the Orcas Island Food Bank reported to have served 245 families and individuals on Tuesday and they are now experiencing a reduction in food supply (receiving 1/6 of their full order this week). Local food production is going to be key to filling the need.

OPAL has already served 45 families in need of immediate rent and mortgage support, committing $31K so far. The senior meal delivery service has quadrupled and Hearts and Hands has connected the 60 community members over 90 to daily check-in support. They will work to do the same for the 250+ who are in their 80’s.

OCRC started weekly calls to all of the individuals and families they serve to provide support before a crisis deepens.

The Orcas Senior Center is also setting up a ‘buddy’ system for frequent call check-ins with elderly folks. They paired everyone over 90 and are now working on doing the same for those in their 80’s.

The Community Emergency Response Fund (CERF) group also established a Shelter Task Force that is working to ensure that everyone in this community has what they need to shelter in place during this crisis. Erin O’Dell (OCRC) and Larry Hughes identified (without revealing identities) six individuals who were both homeless and mentally ill (and who would likely be too disruptive or destructive to house in a hotel or house). The Shelter group has reached out to the community to find places to set up temporary shelters. The Community and Catholic Churches, Camp Orkilla, and Airport Center have all agreed to host and we have a few others still considering.

For each individual we will provide:

  • Porta-potty Dry and secure shelter (tent, RV, or Tiny Home)
  • Access to electricity
  • Clean bedding and towels
  • Potable water
  • Cooking supplies (Coleman stove, toaster oven, hot water kettle)
  • Workable phone and wifi connection
  • Market Tent and outdoor table/seating

Each individual will be asked to agree to shelter in place, keep up social distancing, and daily check-ins by a mental health provider. We will arrange to have water delivered, garbage pickup as needed. We anticipate that we will continue to hosts these folks until the Governor lifts the Shelter in Place decree. We are also seeking a place to shower and do laundry for these folks.

And after that? The Shelter Task Force is looking for a permanent solution that would likely be scattered sites with basics (water, electric) and a centralized hygiene station (showers, toilet, laundry facility). Unfortunately, there is not one community in this nation that does not have a homeless population. Orcas is no exception. But our response can be exceptional.

Our primary goal is to keep the community as healthy as possible. Helping this most vulnerable population is central to that effort. When we get to the other side of all this, if these folks feel like they belong and have built a network of support, they may find the strength to address their deep issues and find as much peace as possible in this lifetime.

How can you help?

Please let me know if you have a shelter to donate (needs to be in good enough shape that you’d feel fine having your child sleep in).  We also need picnic tables, electric water kettles, market tents, those water dispensers that have hot/cold capability, and cookstoves. If you have any of these to give, please let me know.

Stay well,