by Meg Massey for the Orcas Community Resource Center
Hurrah! You kept the doors open. Your generous response to the Orcas Community Resource Center’s (OCRC) Fall appeal for help made all the difference. In October, OCRC came all too close to the rock bottom of their checking account. But your gifts made it possible for OCRC to stay open, ready to welcome the families who seek out OCRC for support.
It could have worked out very differently. If OCRC’s own rent, utilities and salaries hadn’t been met, families needing help in November and December would have found the Community Resource Center office locked and shuttered. And when people with critical needs called, they would have heard only the answering machine’s promise to help at some uncertain, future date. Instead, thanks to you, Orcas Island, OCRC stayed open, prepared for all comers.
The Resource Center was open when a family, low on food at the end of the month, came by to pick up grocery store vouchers. OCRC was open and able to help the veteran find mental health services from a professional. Because you made sure the doors were open, OCRC staff members were on the job guiding people to appropriate state and federal programs.
The single parent in need of parenting advice received it. Those who sought ferry tickets for weekly access to mainland health care appointments – got them. OCRC staff members continued to figure out ways to help households of all sizes find housing, reinstate their phone service, pay their rent and turn their heat back on.
And in January the OCRC staff were still at work opening doors for local folks when the Orcas Island Community Foundation gave a substantial and crucial boost to Emergency Assistance Fund, a fund which makes financial help available for one-time urgent needs.
Already the Fund has been a big help to the carpenter whose outdoor work came to an early close with the onset of severe, earlier-than-usual winter weather. Soon thereafter he caught the flu and couldn’t work or pay his $75 electric bill, leaving him in immediate danger of losing his lease and returning to homelessness. Open for business, OCRC put the Emergency Assistance Fund to use and paid the carpenter’s heating bill.
The emergency fund again came to the rescue when a steadily employed veteran, recently injured and unable to work for the next couple months had to choose between paying for heat or feeding her children. Thanks to you, Orcas Island, the OCRC team was there to help her access the modest amount she needed from the Emergency Assistance Fund.
And fortunately, OCRC was in full operation when a senior OPAL homeowner, who every month carefully budgets her social security income, was hit by large and unforeseeable medical expenses, rendering her full payment of next month’s mortgage as impossible as sprouting wings. The OCRC staff was on hand ready to help and so were you – holding the doors wide open.