Keep Orcas Rec funded

Dear Councilors –

This is a very difficult time to be making budget decisions. I hope that everyone in the county sympathizes with you in having to cut jobs and programs that make a difference in your constituents’ daily lives. I am writing to urge you to maintain funding for the Orcas Recreation

Orcas Rec provides excellent, structured programs and activities that touch the majority of Orcas families. The program has grown immensely over the past twelve years due to the energy, direction and creativity of Didier Gincig.

Among Orcas Rec’s offerings:

– At least 100 elementary-aged kids play soccer in the fall. Many of them go on to play at the middle school and high school levels. A large number play baseball in the spring. Both of these programs emphasize fun, sportsmanship, self-confidence and skills development over competitiveness. I’ve seen the personal growth in the kids who participate. Orcas Rec programs also provide an opportunity for kids from public, private and home school groups to get to know one another.

– The Wacky Wednesday program provides a place for elementary school children to do fun activities in a safe environment on early release days — crucial particularly for parents who work.

– Orcas Rec has mentored the mentoring program that connects caring adults with kids.

– There is a plethora of summer programs from violin to natural plant remedies to sailing to painting, and the very successful sailing lessons. Local kids and adults enjoy these offerings, and so do tourists, guests at local inns, and relatives spending a few weeks in the summer with Orcas residents. Orcas Rec classes are a potential draw for visitors to the island.

– Orcas Rec helped the wonderful F.E.A.S.T. program get off the ground this year — or maybe into the ground would be a better description. F.E.A.S.T. gives high schoolers and community members first-hand experience with, among other things, agriculture, bee-keeping, blacksmithing, as well as developing a deep sense of the importance of sustainability and stewardship.

– There are also adults Rec sports programs.

Orcas Rec makes a huge difference in the lives of local kids. Without it, they will have less structure, fewer positive encounters with adults and with other kids, and fewer opportunities to try new activities and to develop new skills. Cutting Orcas Rec makes sense only in a very short-sighted way. Confident, creative kids, who feel that they are members of a community that cares about them, are less likely to need county support services later in their lives.

The quality of Orcas Rec’s work has make it possible for the organization to successfully fill gaps in its budget from local donors, including my family, and from philanthropic agencies, including the Orcas Island Community Foundation, of which I am a trustee. While it is a pleasure for me to be able to support Orcas Rec, the county needs to recognize the importance of the organization in our community and the centrality of Orcas Rec’s programs for our kids.

You, the County Council, should maintain Orcas Rec’s funding so that it can continue to provide fun, safe, creative activities for Orcas children and adults.

Thank you.

Moana Kutsche