Sound Off: SPIN Cafe is in urgent need of a new home

  • Tuesday, December 3, 2019 1:01pm
  • Opinion

SPIN Cafe exists to serve people in need. Today, SPIN itself is in need and may be without a home in less than a month.

SPIN Cafe was born from a grassroots effort by a single compassionate individual. We’ve grown and continue to serve the needs of our community’s most vulnerable neighbors. As reported in the Whidbey News-Times, SPIN has recently made improvements in safety and reliability of our services to our guests.

Simply put, a lonely person can count on us for a cup of coffee, a warm smile and a safe place out of the weather. Our guests receive a little of the dignity that most of us take for granted.

But today, we are in critical need of our community’s assistance.

Our lease on Bayshore Avenue expires Dec. 31, and the owner is not negotiating a renewal. We have found no doors open for us elsewhere. There is minimal space available in Oak Harbor that is accessible to vital services needed by those we serve. In the spaces we have found, we are not a suitable tenant in the eyes of the owners.

Homeless people, and those living with poverty, are seen as a threat by so many, when in fact the poor, those who have virtually nothing, are themselves the most vulnerable among us.

A potential space just a few blocks away on Bayshore is on hold indefinitely due to the cost of improvements needed to serve our guests. If we don’t find suitable space by Jan. 1, we will no longer be able to provide daytime shelter or evening meals to our neighbors who need us. We are discussing alternatives within our faith community, but our neighbor churches already have commitments and activities and cannot provide the all-day, every-day space we need.

Please consider these facts about the people we serve, and the needs right here in our community:

Daytime shelter, where we provide coffee and a refuge from the weather, serves around 35-40 guests per day. Our budget allows us to keep the doors open Monday through Friday but not on weekends.

Dinner service at SPIN, which we now provide Tuesday through Thursday at no charge, serves 50-60 guests per service and is open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

One generous church has agreed to open their doors for dinners on Thursdays beginning Jan. 1 if needed. Another currently permits us use of the kitchen to prepare food to be served at SPIN on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a third church prepares and delivers our Wednesday evening meals and provides volunteers to serve our SPIN guests.

Without a new location, these services to our guests are at risk.

As always, we are humbled by the financial support we continue to receive. We count on your generosity to keep going. But at this time we need something extra.

We have tapped all known avenues, and now ask our community to assist us with alternatives. We need prayers and creativity and acceptance and kindness from our community to find a new place for our guests in desperate need.

Without SPIN, our guests, who gratefully accept a cup of coffee and a little dignity, will be outside in the elements every day. Please consider the conditions they will face in the absence of SPIN Cafe.

None of us will rest until we find a new location. If you can, or if you know someone who can, find us a new home, please reach out to me as soon as possible. Please keep us in your prayers, and may God bless you all.

• Tom Saunders represents the SPIN Café board of directors. He can be reached via email at tomsaunders778@gmail.com

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