Submitted by the Orcas Community Resource Center.
Masking up, social distancing, sticking to your pod, Zoom weddings, virtual Thanksgiving feasts – who would have foreseen our new normal back in March when the CDC declared COVID-19 a pandemic? And yet, here we are in the midst of the holiday season, greeting our loved ones on laptop screens, and waving to neighbors from the safety and comfort of our living rooms and front stoops. These are strange days. We’re grateful to be negotiating the chaos of 2020 on our quieter island. We’re sure many of you can relate.
Orcas is unique. Our quirky island community welcomes all living things, no matter how great or small. From orcas to owls, ferns to firs, right-wing or leftist-leaning, young to old – on Orcas Island, and at the Orcas Community Resource Center (OCRC), you’re welcomed with open (albeit socially-distanced or virtual) arms. An attitude of gratitude and a willingness to adapt will keep our community sane and centered amidst the changing tides.
Adaptation. That’s something we at the Orcas Community Resource Center know about. We’ve been helping islanders adapt to their challenging circumstances for well over a decade now. And, while we’ve had years to learn the ropes, adopt programs, and implement services for islanders in need, 2020 has given us a run for our money. And we mean that literally! Our budget increased 102%, from $329,612 in 2019 to $667,445 in 2020. As of November, we had already doubled the total services provided in 2019 – 1,265 clients and 699 households were served with 12,860 services. Think about that for a minute. 1 out of every 4 Orcas Islanders has received our help!
As with every challenge, opportunities abound if you’re willing to step back, observe the chaos compassionately, then commit to doing what needs to be done. Earlier this year, our community came together to identify our emergent and long-term island needs via the Economic Recovery and Resiliency community forums. An overwhelming need for an ‘Island Hub where folks can go to get some help’ was voiced by many. You might be surprised to know that an island hub already exists – your very own Orcas Community Resource Center! We’ve been quietly helping your neighbors for some time now, but our vision and scope has expanded due to COVID. We’ve helped islanders secure housing, aided folks in receiving unemployment and medical benefits, filled pantries and bellies with food cards and food bank deliveries, provided personal hygiene and household supplies, kept a watchful eye on our seniors and vulnerable populations, matched clients with mental health resources and counseling, and ensured that requests were granted to keep Orcas Island safe.
We’ve been busy, but we’ve had company. We’ve witnessed friends helping friends, neighbors assisting neighbors, and strangers looking out for one another. We’ve heard countless tales of stress and strife, but we’ve also been inspired by the gifts of love, time and financial support that have been offered by islanders and our sister organizations to salve those wounds. When the need was great, Orcas stepped up by giving to the Orcas Island Community Foundation’s Community Emergency Response Fund (CERF). CERF has been instrumental in allowing the Resource Center to put in the extra time to do this good work. If we were given additional funding, we could do so much more! And make no mistake, there is much more to do. More neighbors to help. More programs to invest in. More services to provide. More love to spread around. We’re in this together. We can’t do it alone.
Please consider donating to the Orcas Community Resource Center (www.orcascrc.org/donate) . We’re asking for your help as we continue to adapt to changing and challenging times. We’re here for all of it. The good AND hard times. The smiles and the tears. The heartache and the heartwarming moments of 2020. We hope you’ll join us in shaping a safer, stronger, and more unified Orcas for all to thrive.