Two nonprofits raise $121K to help Whidbey families

The Whidbey Community Foundation and the Goosefoot Community Fund partnered for the fundraising.

Community members struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic will be able to get some much-needed assistance, thanks to donors who raised over $121,000 for a good cause.

The Whidbey Community Foundation and the Goosefoot Community Fund partnered together for the fundraising effort, known as the Essential Needs program. The two nonprofits contributed $25,000 each and set out to match those funds.

After just three months, the goal of raising $100,000 was surpassed by $21,000.

The Opportunity Council Island County Service Center has been distributing the funds. Director Melissa Frasch-Brown said 17 families were assisted with the funds in September. A total of 35 families have been served since May.

“This program has been such a tremendous help for our community,” Frasch-Brown said. “Especially during COVID. We are very appreciative of their efforts and their generosity, along with the community’s generosity. It feels wonderful to be able to assist our community members in a way that we generally aren’t able to.”

Jessie Gunn, program director for the Whidbey Community Foundation, said the funds have gone far in helping elderly couples and single mothers with multiple children.

Many household incomes of the families helped were hovering around 50% of the area median income, but had been as low as 30% in some cases.

“Many households needed that direct assistance that other streams of funding weren’t filling the gaps for,” Gunn said.

Examples include costs for child care, utilities and housing set-up. Gunn said that a number of single parents were living in transitional housing.

“Direct assistance has helped with things like moving costs, moving from a shelter into a more stable house,” she said.

She recalled a story of a single mother with three kids, a new baby and a broken refrigerator. The mother had resorted to using a cooler to store all the family’s perishable food items.

She and Frasch-Brown have seen the demand for assistance increase, especially in September.

People in need can still apply for a slice of the funds from the program. Households with a Whidbey zip code and with no more than 80% of the area median income in Island County are eligible to receive money from the Essential Needs program.

To request assistance, call 360-679-6577 ext. 2139 or 2135 and leave a detailed message mentioning the Whidbey Island Essential Needs program.

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