by Hilary Canty
Executive Director, Orcas Island Community Foundation
The Orcas community response to the COVID pandemic continues to be remarkable.
In the first month, thanks to the generous donors who contributed to the Community Emergency Response Fund, families are being housed, fed, and comforted during this time of crisis. Fueled by philanthropic donations, the nonprofit organizations serving Orcas have geared up, expanded their programs, opening up to all islanders.
Opal Community Land Trust has already committed $105,000 in direct rent and mortgage support, helping nearly 107 families keep sheltered (75 percent of these families are not current OPAL residents). The Food Bank has expanded their efforts to meet the significantly rising number of customers – just over 450 islanders last week alone. Orcas Community Resource Center continues to provide critical support to now almost 200 families, helping with utilities, household essentials, medical needs and case management. The Senior Center has mega charged the Meals on Wheels program and set up a check in for all of our senior population. The Shelter Task Force has helped ten neighbors so far who lacked either an adequate shelter or place to shelter in place.
To date, 221 donors have contributed $336,000 with $281,000 already hard at work in the community supporting these efforts to serve neighbors in need during this time of crisis. One hundred percent of the donated dollars go directly as OICF takes no fees nor charges for any administration.
The Community Emergency Response Advisors are now focused on long term solutions for chronic issues such as food security, mental health and housing. These issues existed on Orcas prior to this crisis, and the community now has an opportunity to address them in a profound way. Working together, Orcas will continue to thrive. www.giveorcas.org.