It’s a matter of survival.
The organizations that people turn to for help, such as Camano Center and the Stanwood Camano Food Bank, are themselves in need of help now as their response to the COVID-19 pandemic drains resources.
Some are not sure how much longer they can operate under these circumstances.
“I’ve cut costs and staff as much as I can right now," Camano Center Executive Director Bonnie Eckley said. "I need to let the community know. What this place has meant — so much to so many seniors – is vital to the island. And we are in real jeopardy of not being able to continue.”
Camano Center, the Food Bank and the Community Resource Center of Stanwood-Camano are among the local organizations struggling to stay solvent.
Camano Center and the Stanwood Camano Food Bank rely on proceeds from their thrift stores, and the Resource Center relies on its bookstore. Camano Center, which gets no government funding, also relies on renting its facility for community events.
“In early March, we shut down all operations due to COVID-19," Eckley said. "The thrift shop — closed. Events — all canceled. Concerts — canceled. Every source of revenue — gone in an instant."
The center has cut expenses by 75%, dropping everything that is not essential to delivering critical community services. But more help is needed, she said.
“Each day we are keeping people in groceries and medications," Eckley said. "We are getting those in need to their critical healthcare appointments, and we are ensuring that a friendly voice calls regularly to check in on them."
The recently approved federal $2.2 trillion stimulus package doesn't include direct money to help these organizations. Some will be able to apply for emergency loans that may be forgiven down the road if certain conditions are met, according to an initial analysis of the legislation by the National Council of Nonprofits.
The Food Bank is also looking for ways to keep serving as operations grow tighter.
By late March, at least 61 food banks in the state either temporarily closed, shifted hours or changed distribution models, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in people who need food, yet we don’t have income coming from the thrift store," Food Bank Community Outreach Specialist Wendy Foster said. "We’re able to keep the Food Bank filled with food to give to people who need it as long as we hit a minimum of $6,000 per week. Right now, that will all be through donations."
The members, those who rely on the food bank to bridge the gap between paychecks, didn’t have enough money to put three weeks worth of groceries in their homes when staying home became an order. They might not be working now, and their needs are greater, she said.
"Without us, they have nothing,” Foster said.
Two weeks ago, 133,464 unemployment insurance claims were filed in Washington — the most in one week on record.
The Resource Center had tenants in a rental building, businesses that had to close. Normally these revenues kept the center from relying heavily on grants. It now projects a loss of $30,000 through the first of May, Executive Director Joanna Dobbs said.
“We were a lucky recipient of $25,000 from the Snohomish County COVID-19 Relief Fund, but those funds are what we are setting aside to provide financial assistance for impacted families and to do outreach in our community," she said. "We still need funds to help us with operations so we can provide the services to distribute those funds."
Donate to the community’s helping organizations by visiting their websites or sending a check by mail.
Camano Center: camanocenter.org, 360-387-0222 or mail at Camano Center, 606 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island, WA 98282. Windermere will match the first $5,000 in donations.
Stanwood Senior Center: stanwoodseniorcenter.org
Stanwood Camano Food Bank: stanwoodcamanofoodbank.org or Stanwood Camano Food Bank, P.O. Box 1285, Stanwood, WA 98292.
Resource Center of Stanwood Camano: crc-sc.org, P.O. Box 935, Stanwood, WA 98292
Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation: s-caf.org to donate to a the general Stanwood-Camano Disaster Relief Fund for area nonprofits. SCAF will match up to $25,000 in recurring donations.
Stanwood Camano Food Bank has new hours.
- Food pick-up hours have changed to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays
Camano Center still provides services.
- Free grocery shopping and deliveries for seniors and shut-ins
- Free medical rides for essential trips like dialysis, cancer, diabetes
- Free pharmacy runs for medications
- Partners with Island Senior Resources to provide Meals on Wheels
- “Disaster Buddy” program, supporting the most vulnerable in times of need
- Phone calls to check on vulnerable seniors each day
Resource Center of Stanwood Camano provides essential needs appointments.
The Resource Center can help navigate community resources and financial assistance options.
- Call 360-629-5257 x 1 and leave a message with contact information and needs. You will be called back as soon as possible. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current hours are:
- Mondays & Wednesdays 1-4 p.m.
- Tuesdays & Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.
- Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- or by appointment.