It has been over two years since the start of the pandemic, but the rising cost of goods, lack of affordable housing, and limited public transportation on the Island have led to many of our Whidbey neighbors struggling to afford even their basic needs. Goosefoot Community Fund (Goosefoot) and Whidbey Community Foundation (WCF) have partnered for a second year to raise funds for the Essential Needs Program with a mission to keep our Whidbey neighbors housed, keep them working, and help them through emergencies.
All too often residents face emergency needs where no existing assistance is available. Donations to the Essential Needs Program will help fill these gaps for local households. Goosefoot and WCF are working again with The Opportunity Council Island County Service Center (OC) to administer these funds directly to households. In 2021, together the community raised over $125,000 which OC distributed directly, meeting individually with each neighbor. This program has been able to help single mothers as they have transitioned from domestic violence shelters into more stable housing; seniors on fixed incomes stay safely in their homes by helping with broken water heaters; and, families and individuals with utility bills, childcare essentials and even cremation services for loved ones. Simply put–the Essential Needs Program allows Opportunity Council to serve more of our Whidbey neighbors in need.
The goal of the 2022 Whidbey Island Fundraiser for the Essential Needs Program is to raise $125,000 by July 31. Goosefoot and WCF have each donated $25,000 to kick-off fundraising in April and they are asking the Whidbey community to help raise the remaining $75,000 and so far they have delivered.
The Goose Community Grocer has again designated the Essential Needs Program as their Roundup for Charity recipient from May through July and has already raised almost $9,000 in May alone. The Goose is also highlighting the Essential Needs Program during their annual Father’s Day BBQ on Saturday, June 18th from 11am-1pm, outside of the store. There will be complimentary hamburgers, hot dogs and beer tastings with local vendors, along with an informational booth for each of the three partner organizations (Goosefoot, WCF and OC) to help raise additional funds and spread awareness about the program in the community.
In addition to The Goose Grocer’s efforts, Prima Bistro and Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar in Langley are supporting the fundraiser by designating the Essential Needs Program as their June recipient for their Cocktails for a Cause. Both restaurants have been crafting rotating monthly cocktails to give back to local organizations. $2 from each ‘El Buen Vecino’ (Prima Bistro’s house made boozy horchata cocktail) and ‘The Bubbly Neighbor’ (Saltwater’s blackberry Whidbey Island Distillery version of a Kir Royale) sold in June will go directly towards the Essential Needs fundraiser.
“It is truly amazing to see so many partners come together in our community with a common purpose of supporting our neighbors. What started as a response to the economic effects of the pandemic, has grown into a far-reaching program that provides a safety net for our neighbors in need. Flexible dollars like these create more efficiencies in Opportunity Council’s administration of multiple government assistance programs.”Jessie Gunn, Executive Director of WCF.
As the halfway mark of the fundraising campaign approaches, over 58% of the goal has been funded – totaling $73,038 on June 1. After the initial seed funding, $23,000 was raised alone in May. Goosefoot and WCF are asking for the community’s help in raising the remaining 42% ($52,000) of their goal by July 31, 2022.
Goosefoot and WCF are extremely grateful for all donations thus far. Since the onset of this program in 2021, Opportunity Council has deployed nearly $100,000 to 267 neighbors needing extra support with utility bills, storage facilities and to purchase necessary housing and childcare essentials.
Goosefoot Community Fund
Whidbey Community Foundation
About the Opportunity Council
The Opportunity Council is a private, nonprofit human services organization that acts as a catalyst for positive change in the community and the lives of the people it serves. Its role is to create awareness of the needs of low-income people, engage the community in responding to those needs, and promote institutional sensitivity. The Opportunity Council provides direct services, including information, education, and access to resources to assist low-income and disadvantaged persons in developing and maintaining self-reliance.
Working closely with Island County Human Services and nonprofits on the island, Opportunity Council of Island County administers programs including: information & referral for basic needs, family services & homeless intervention, energy assistance, and weatherization & home repair. Learn more about the Opportunity Council at oppco.org.