After 3 p.m., when the crowds have all left and the piles of secondhand goods have been picked clean, the question remains, “What do we do with the rest of this stuff?” Granny’s Attic is a popular and profitable fundraiser for the Orcas Island Senior Center. One Saturday each spring, the center hosts a rummage sale of donated goods which brings in about $10,000.
When the sale was over, Arron Redford, senior center manager, knew from years past to contact Kaleidoscope Preschool and Childcare Center to take the “soft” items. Redford explained that soft items are things like pillows, blankets and fabrics. However, this year was different.
When Redford called Kaleidoscope, Executive Director Amber Paulsen suggested a whole new idea. She proposed that she haul as much of the leftover items that she could off island to Value Village, which would buy the things based on their weight. Kaleidoscope would then get to keep the money from the sale.
“It’s really amazing. I can’t believe this community would come spend $10,000 in one day,” said Redford. “It’s a huge effort that goes into making it happen. Really, really, really, thank you to all the volunteers and all the organizations that helped make it a success.”
More than 30 volunteers assisted the senior center prior to and during the sale, including students from Orcas Island High School and Orcas Christian School.
Money raised at events like Granny’s Attic and the annual holiday fair go toward supporting the senior center’s programs like Meals on Wheels. According to Redford, two-thirds of the Orcas Island Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program comes from a combination of non-federal grants, meal participate donations, local government, local partners, private donations and fundraising events.
The center recently hired a Communication and Fundraising Administrator to facilitate in writing request for grants and organizing more fundraisers.
The senior center was also accepted into the Orcas Island Community Foundation spring grant cycle. It is requesting $10,000 so that it can conduct a feasibility study to determine what the community needs from the senior center. Redford said the center hopes to host focus groups and field trips to senior centers on the mainland to learn what they are doing to help support their aging communities.
“So we’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Redford. “We’re looking at something that’s like a village model.”
This type of senior-living community is one where elderly residents live independently but pay a membership for services and providers of those services are vetted. Redford said this model is both accessible and affordable and allows people to stay in their own homes but still receive the benefits they would from living in a retirement facility.