WAIF moves into new Oak Harbor location

The spacious new play room in the cat center lets people get to know cats in a more natural environment before making an adoption decision.  - Courtesy of WAIF
The spacious new play room in the cat center lets people get to know cats in a more natural environment before making an adoption decision.
— image credit: Courtesy of WAIF

Cats are already blessed with nine lives, and now Oak Harbor’s kittens are lucky enough to start theirs in luxury.

After putting up with 10 years of cramped quarters at its location on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor, the Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation finally moved into a new location on Midway Boulevard. On Thursday afternoon, WAIF members performed a ribbon cutting outside their new thrift store and cat adoption center.

Tables were adorned with cat and dog imprinted cookies and volunteers wandered in and out of the crowd sharing the joy of their big accomplishment.

“This store is a lot better,” store volunteer Justin Karels, 16, said. “We were too cramped. Now we have a lot more space.”

Both the thrift store and the adoption center gained in square footage. The old center was 300 square feet, and the cats were forced to spend much of the day stuck in their cages. The new center is about 1,100 square feet, and a large room with a colorful City Beach mural serves as a play area for the cats.

“We can just let the kittens loose, and they have a free-for-all,” Shelter Operations Director Shari Bibich said. “The kitties love it, we love it and I wish my office was here.”

The move was referred to as a “labor of love” by many WAIF members. They said the community outreach and support for the project was outstanding. Former WAIF board member and treasurer Pamela Price, who opened the first thrift store on Pioneer Way, said local businesses and individuals donated not only their time, but their old cabinets and counters for store displays. Additionally, Price said as soon as word got out about the move, many neighbors arrived with their trucks willing to haul merchandise.

Before the actual ribbon cutting, WAIF Executive Director Steven Paysse took time to thank Price and the volunteer army, while City Councilman Scott Dudley reminded the crowd that just because the move is complete, doesn’t mean the help should stop.

“On behalf of the city, WAIF does so much,” Dudley said explaining how WAIF creates jobs and gives low-income families an affordable place to shop.

“We look forward to continually supporting WAIF,” he said. “We can support them by donating goods, buying goods and adopting animals.”

The Midway thrift store opened on July 15 and the cat adoption center was completed on Sept. 1. As of Thursday, eight cats had already found homes. Though a bit belated, Tammi Petty, the special events coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, presented WAIF with its “first dollar” for the store and commended the organization on its achievement.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been in WAIF, and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” she said.

Good deals, great cats:

50 Midway Blvd.


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