Thursday afternoon, about a half dozen people sat in Spin Cafe, most of them sipping coffee or tea. One of those people, Gerhardt Hofstetter, had been reading a book about famed Apache leader Geronimo as he drank black tea.
“I feel more peaceful here,” Hofstetter said.
The nonprofit’s drop-in day center recently re-opened after closing Oct. 1 in response to the Island County officials terminating Spin Cafe’s contract, citing breaches in the agreement related to employee conduct. The nonprofit recently announced it is also re-organizing its governance.
The county’s $50,000 paid for staff and professional development, efforts to stabilize homeless individuals and families, and management of the day shelter.
Tom Saunders, Spin Cafe board member and spokesperson, said the Bayshore Drive center has been re-opened mostly due to donations. The nonprofit is also supported by grants.
“The public support of this is incredible,” Saunders said.
Among the changes is the departure of Founder and Executive Director Vivian Rogers-Decker, who said in a press release she looks forward to more time with her family and furthering her education.
The board is heading operations, Saunders said. There are now only two paid positions at the organization: one full-time cook/supervisor and one part-time employee that supervises the drop-in center. The board recently inked a new code of conduct and code of ethics to address the county’s grievances that had led to the contractual termination.
Among the new codes is a fraternization policy in response to county allegations that a staff member had a romantic relationship with one of the clients. Many of the other policies ensure staff members stick to tasks that they’re qualified for and refer clients to counselors or the county for other services.
Island County Human Services director said she’s been communicating with the nonprofit about the changes and is open to renegotiating an agreement.
The cafe offers hot beverages and sometimes lunches during the day and serves free dinners on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Mike Spellacy, who sat with a coffee and some bread Thursday afternoon, said he comes to the center every day.
“I need a place to keep warm,” he said.
He explained that he’s on Social Security and hasn’t been able to find a place he can afford. His dilemma is a common one: If he finds a job, he can’t work too many hours without losing his Social Security benefits. Either way, he’s not sure he can find an affordable place to live.
Saunders said the function Spin Cafe serves has not changed.