$109K raised for essential needs

Two Whidbey Island nonprofit groups have raised more than $109,000.

Two Whidbey Island nonprofit groups have raised more than $109,000 for a program that provides families with funds for child care, utilities, rent, transportation and other expenses vital to life on the island.

The Goosefoot Community Fund and the Whidbey Community Foundation partnered for a third year to raise funds for the Essential Needs Program, according to a press release from the groups.

The funds help fill financial gaps that aren’t met through existing funding streams. The program is administered by the Opportunity Council, the county’s nonprofit human services center. It has helped more than 300 households, most of which earn less than 30% of the median income in Island County.

Starting in May 2023, the fundraiser for the Essential Needs Program was seeded with $50,000 ($25,000 each from Goosefoot and WCF) with a collective goal of $100,000.

The Goose Community Grocer again designated the Essential Needs Program as its Roundup for Charity recipient from May through July and alone raised over $29,000. The Goose team exceeded their previous year total by $3,000 and had their single biggest month in Roundup history.

The charitable program has made a real difference in the lives of Whidbey residents. A housing case manager with the Opportunity Council noted that six families in the current caseload have utilize the Essential Needs Program for furniture, while many other have benefited from the funding in the past. The social worker noted that one family lost everyone in a house fire and became homeless. The program paid for beds for the children.

The organizers noted that the success of the program is due to the generosity of the community.

“The fact that we surpassed our goal again this year makes me think that generosity must be in everyone’s DNA in our remarkable community,” said Elise Miller, executive director of Goosefoot. “It’s astonishing how much people give — over and over — to ensure our neighbors get the support they need when they need it. Yes, even 27 cents can truly make a difference when so many others pitch in too.”

Jessie Gunn, executive director of the Whidbey Community Foundation, agreed.

“Our community continues to amaze me,” she said. “What a true testament to the generosity of Whidbey that each year for the past three years we have exceeded our fundraising goal for the Essential Needs Program. Philanthropy is a love of giving and helping one another. Thank you Whidbey for helping one another.”