Contributed photo/Orcas Island High School graduating seniors

Updates from Orcas Senior Center

  • Wed Jun 2nd, 2021 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by Orcas Senior Center.

Seniors helping seniors

The Orcas Senior Center wants to express its gratitude to the Orcas Island High School senior class for being included in their philanthropic donations for 2021 through the Orcas Island Community Foundation.

Each year, a local donor provides the graduating class with funds that they distribute in support of local programs that have made a difference in their lives. Older Orcas “seniors” will benefit from the generous donation of $1,000 that the OHS graduating class has designated to support the senior center’s nutrition and companion services programs. With this gift, our graduating seniors have demonstrated both knowledge of, and compassion for, the particular difficulties faced by our older residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is with great pride that we share this island and this community with these caring young people. Thank you, Thian, Ella, Landon, Sofia, Ana Sofia, Grace, Douglas, Christian, Tomas, Izabella, Darian, Alanna, Flora, Hazel, Emma, Bethany, Ryan, Lindsey, Madison, Molly, Leonai, Portia, Miette, Anwyn and Ayjah!

Re-starting medical transportation

The Orcas Senior Center is pleased to announce the immediate re-opening of medical transportation services, both on- and off-island. Both passengers and drivers will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to participate in the program, although for very short local trips exceptions will be made for unvaccinated riders.

For more than 15 years, the Orcas Senior Center non-profit, in cooperation with San Juan County, has provided a range of transportation services and Meals on Wheels deliveries. While we continued—and even expanded—meal delivery during COVID, we were unable to offer medical transportation or field trips. We recognize the importance of medical transportation: Prior to COVID, well over a third of mileage on the vehicles was for medical trips.

Now, with more and more seniors becoming vaccinated, the Orcas Senior Center is gradually re-opening and re-starting services, and medical transportation is one of the first that we are pleased to be able to offer again. This service is available to anyone aged 60 or older or any person with a disability. All the vehicles have been recently serviced and safety equipment checked. Riders and drivers both will be asked to complete a COVID-19 screening form, and to follow a detailed COVID-19 safety protocol. This will help ensure the continued health and safety of both passengers and drivers.

For more information, contact Jami Mitchell at 360-376-7926 for details about eligibility or to schedule a trip. Since all trips depend on having a volunteer driver available, please also consider volunteering to be a driver for the program.

When will Orcas Senior Center re-open?

It has been a little over a year since the Orcas Senior Center closed its doors due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Since then, we have successfully introduced new services like Buddy Check-In, now a mainstay of the center. We moved many activities to Zoom, and launched new ones, such as the virtual vineyard, Socrates Cafe, and Fresh Start Qigong. Our website is updated weekly, so check us out for times and dates of these and many other programs.

But for many of us, attending a Zoom event will never replace the face-to-face interactions and the social engagement we enjoy. Now, with many seniors fully vaccinated and more becoming vaccinated every day, it is time for us to begin to gradually re-introduce in-person activities. The very successful Spring Clean-up in May was a great example of an activity that can easily be made safe for everyone, including the children who showed up to help!

We have recently begun receiving questions about our community meal program: When might it restart? Orcas Senior Center volunteers have actively supported vaccination efforts, monitored vaccination rates, and worked hard to ensure no senior is left behind as eligibility expands. While those who are fully vaccinated have enjoyed an increased sense of security, including the ability to gather in small groups, for larger group events “caution” is our watchword.

So, while we are all anxious to get back to normal, we do ask for your continued patience. The three-way partnership of the Orcas Senior Center, San Juan County, and the Council on Aging—which together brings you the meal program—is working in collaboration to ensure a safe re-opening. Meanwhile, please help us stay the course by continuing to follow health guidelines and encouraging others to get vaccinated. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will share our safe start plans as they develop. We appreciate your patience, value your feedback, and want to hear how we can all support each other as we rally to beat this virus, once and for all!

Creative coordinator sought

Are you creative? Are you good at coordinating events, programs, or activities? Orcas Senior Center has the perfect job for you! We are seeking applicants for our Programs and Activities Coordinator position. This position oversees and supports ongoing activities, events, and programs at Orcas Senior Center, like “the virtual vineyard,” Orcas Socrates Café, Yoga, Art with Carla, and Strength Training.

Minimum requirements for this position include three years of experience coordinating successful programs, events, activities; experience working with senior populations, and/or other vulnerable populations preferred, but not required; ability to think outside the box and be creative; well organized with strong verbal and written communication; proficient in Office 365 and social media; associate’s degree or equivalent; ability to work independently and follow through on simultaneous tasks and deadlines and maintain a positive attitude.

To read more about the position and how to apply, go to