A foggy smoky sunrise in Olga. Photo by Coleen O’Brien

As we head into Fall, San Juan County is leading the State in a couple of ways. We have one of the lowest per capita coronavirus infection rates. Good news. We also have the highest year-over-year job loss. Not so great. (You can see the rankings here). It is clear that the coming months will bring an increased need for many in our community, as tourism slows and winter sets in. Fortunately, we have received generous support for the Community Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and are working with the Food Bank, OPAL, OCRC, the Senior Center, Orcas School District, and others to ensure that their programs can continue to provide essential services to those in need. Our initial time frame for this emergency funding was three months.  That has now stretched to a year, and my guess is that will be extended.

I am so grateful for all who have contributed and to the organizations that have stepped up to help. Together we are making a difference in the lives of many. Below are just a couple of stories that Erin O’Dell and her staff at the Resource Center have shared:

A veteran in need of medical care, advocacy, and PTSD counseling reached out to the OCRC. Through our transportation voucher program, we provided ferry tickets and lodging necessary for surgeries and post-op appointments. Via our emergency assistance fund, we were able to cover his car repair so he could attend medical appointments and therapy sessions. Our Shelter Group team installed medical adaptive equipment in his home. Prescription medications and food deliveries were made to his home during his convalescence. His health is now stable and he is on the road to recovery.

A long-time islander with a dependent mother was laid off due to CV-19. Struggling to pay for both basic needs, as well as expenses associated with his mother’s upcoming surgery, he reached out to OCRC for the first time. We assisted him with his Unemployment Benefit claim and secured credits for his Eastsound Water and propane bills. OCRC supplied the family with a $200 gift to Orcas Village Store and signed them up for monthly COATES’ Cabinet household supply allotments. We secured ferry tickets and hotel stays necessary for his mother’s surgery and rehabilitation appointments. This islander is back at work and credits OCRC for getting him and his mother back on their feet during a difficult time.

Multiply these stories a couple of hundred times and you can begin to understand the impact this community response has had.  This is what community resilience looks like.

Ever Grateful,