The only constant in life is change.
It’s why humans are so adaptable. If we want to survive, we have to be resilient. The world is experiencing one of its greatest tests of strength as we watch death counts rise and economies crumble in the aftermath of COVID-19.
At-home schooling and wearing face masks in public are the new norm. A record number of Washingtonians have applied for unemployment. The Canadian-U.S. border is a ghost town. San Juan County banned vacation rentals and hotel stays through the end of April. Many are struggling with loneliness and anxiety.
Washington state has seen some success in battling the spread of the disease by social distancing, closing schools and adhering to the governor’s stay home order.
The great unknown is when life will get “back to normal” and how quickly our economies will recover. In the meantime, I am overcome daily by the staggering beauty of being alive in this very special county we call home.
Our community foundations, resource centers, food banks and essential local businesses wasted no time in raising additional money and extending services. A total of 225 donors have given $323,000 so far to the Community Emergency Response fund at the Orcas Island Community Foundation that has been dispersed to the senior center, food bank, resource center and OPAL Land Trust. The Give Orcas Covid Campaign has raised $118,000 from 210 donors and these checks will be distributed next week when the campaign ends.
OPALCO is offering help with power bills. The Economic Development Council has assisted local small businesses by helping them to find and apply for the state and federal grants and loans. The county has been providing daily health and safety updates to the community. OPAL is offering rent and mortgage assistance to anyone who needs it.
Volunteers are stepping up every week to ensure islanders are receiving the help they need. Restaurants are donating hot meals to the food bank. Groceries are being delivered to those who can’t leave their house. Teens and adults are sewing face masks for health care workers. Locally-made free hand sanitizer is now available at a variety of locations.
As we are all struggling to pay bills and rent and keep our sanity, our number one question is still: how can I help my neighbor?
Here at the Sounder, Journal and Weekly, these past few weeks have been extremely difficult. As our local economies have come to a standstill so has our advertising revenue. We reduced all employees’ hours. The Islands’ Weekly is being printed within the pages of the Islands’ Sounder to save printing costs. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when our coverage is needed more than ever.
After we published a plea asking for financial support in the April 1 editions, the response from our readers has been very encouraging. Individuals, businesses and nonprofits have taken out advertising. A handful of islanders have given anonymous donations. Dozens of Lopezians signed up for Sounder subscriptions.
We are buoyed not only by the generosity of our communities but the validation of how important our work is to you. We are enormously grateful to all who have contributed.
These next few months are critical for us all, but there is great strength in the love and care we share for one another. It’s the island way.