Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the impact OICF grants has on the community. This past week, I ran into a fellow sitting on his (very own) lawn reading a book in the sunshine. He looked so happy and healthy that I almost did not recognize him as the same person who lived for years in a tent in the woods no matter the weather or season. While OICF did not directly get him housed,  there is no doubt that GiveOrcas grants helped build the capacity of the Orcas Community Resource Center to make it possible.

Below is an excerpt from OCRC’s final report for their 2018 grant. It is remarkable how much they have gown and how big the needs are here on Orcas. I am so grateful that OCRC is able to assist so many folks. They are focused on getting people self reliant and into safe housing. For the fellow I mentioned above, their support has been nothing short of life saving.
OICF will celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2020. I would love to hear your stories about how OICF has impacted Orcas Island, either as a donor, a grantee, a nonprofit, or simply as a friend and neighbor. I look forward to hearing your experience.
From Orcas Community Resource Center’s 2018 Grant Report:
1. Please provide a brief description of the project funded by this grant (use info from your application).
Over the last four years, the Orcas Community Resource Center has more than doubled its capacity to serve islanders. Each year, an OICF grant enabled us to continue to develop a process for helping islanders with complex needs – often of long standing – resulting in the permanent housing of a number of individuals who had been homeless for years. We have moved beyond providing simple information and referrals to helping islanders access a wide range of services and move towards self-sufficiency. We are now becoming a sustainable organization that can permanently deliver on our goal of helping people open doors and move through their current problems and circumstances to improved quality of life, ability to advocate for themselves, and increased self-esteem.Thanks to OICF, the Resource Center now occupies an attractive, welcoming space right in town that is staffed by people who remember your name. Last year we were responsible for generating over $150,000 in direct services to islanders, this number does not include the priceless value of helping people secure health insurance, counseling, housing, food stamps, supplemental security income, and Veterans benefits – to name a few. The 2018 grant from OICF has sustained the caring and qualified staff who provide direct client services while the OCRC Board works to increase our donor base to permanently meet operational costs that are not covered by reimbursements from government contracts. It has helped us keep our doors open to islanders in need of essential social services while we finalize the work of building a sustainable future for our operations.
2. What problem/community need did you seek to address (cited in your application) and what are your results toward this end?
Nearly 40% of Orcas Islanders cannot afford basic necessities of life. Almost 50% of our public-school students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Many families and individuals pay rents that are over 50% of their income. Financial problems cause stress. Stress reduces quality of life and can result in depression, illness, family disruption, and substance abuse – a vicious circle that prevents people from thriving and effects our whole community. These problems have been identified by multiple community organizations. Where can people turn for practical, substantive help? The Resource Center exists to serve people with problems in the areas of income security, housing, behavioral/primary health, transportation, inability to access veterans and disability benefits, and more.
Every day, an average of 20 people come to the Resource Center seeking services related these problems. We also get referrals from schools, churches, community organizations and concerned citizens. We provide practical help and build trust so that clients will feel safe to communicate their needs and problems and ask for help. Our staff, volunteers, and board work closely with other island organizations, government agencies, social services providers, counselors, and educators to fill the gaps in the island’s safety net.There is more work to be done to increase services to vulnerable families (such as mentoring of parents), help those with chronic illness or disability receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability (the paperwork is daunting), increase the financial literacy of islanders struggling to make ends meet, and advocate with island employers to pay a living wage. In January, 2019, we hired a Program Assistant to help with our Energy Assistance Programs. The Programs Assistant will also take a lead role in a regional community health demonstration project funded by the North Sound Accountable Community of Health (NS ACH), a Medicare-funded organization whose role is to assist in the transformation of Medicare services in Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, and Snohomish Counties. This 24 hour a week position has been funded through 2019 by the NS ACH (http://www.northsoundach.org/about/).
3. Describe your project/program outcomes. What measurements can you provide?
In 2018, we provided 5,845 services to 1210 individuals from 616 households. That’s an average 30 services per work day to approximately 22% of our island population.With funding from OICF, San Juan County, the Opportunity Council, and other private donations, we were able to help 23 people stay in their homes and 12 gain housing stability through our Rental Assistance Programs. The Emergency Assistance Program funded in 2018 by OICF helped 109 households. As of June 30, 2019, we have served 68 households through this fund In 2019, this critical program will continue with funding by Satterburg, Coates and OICF grants.

In 2019, we are also proud to launch a new Household Essentials Program named the Coates Cupboard. Funding from the Coates foundation for 2019 has allowed us to expand our capacity to serve low income islanders with critical cleaning and personal hygiene items that cannot be purchased with an EBT card and not found at the food bank. There are currently 82 households enrolled in the Coates Cabinet Program. The Spring 2018 grant from OICF ensured that we have had the necessary funding to sustain operations through the year and in to 2019 while we continue to plan for the future of our organization in service to the Orcas community.