SPIN's Jayla Lawing has a few simple requests. If you can help, please contact her directly at email@example.com or 360-682-5949.
Jayla says we could really use:
Gravel -- to fill the low spots in the parking lot
Tablecloths -- We take pride in treating our guests special. Our tablecloths could use a break for cleaning and rotation. Some need to be replaced.
Picnic Table - our current table is on its last leg.
Thanks so much!
By Vivian Rogers Decker, SPIN Café Founder
SPIN was founded with a singular mission: Serving People in Need. That's what we do, and it's still our driving mission. Picture
Vivian provides a little sunshine and a lot of hope.
We provide basic services of food, dignity, and connection to the members of our community who have nothing, to people who aren’t even on the bottom rung of the social ladder. SPIN provides this vital service in response to a deep need among our neighbors. We see success stories among our guests every day. But still, people struggle to survive.
Take for example a citizen who struggles with mental illness, who has no private place to bathe, who ends up in a revolving door at the hospital, where a social worker tries and fails repeatedly to find respite care for the patient, so this same disabled neighbor of ours ends up back on the street. If there’s a public health concern involved, public shelter and other public facilities' spaces are not an option.
Like it or not, here in the richest nation on earth, even after centuries of public health crises and billions of dollars spent on research, there is no long-term solution to guarantee this citizen’s safety and health. At SPIN, we believe that when we know better, we do better – but after so much time and learning and effort to care for the most vulnerable, do we, as a community, really "know" better?
In spite of these challenges, we continue to improve lives little by little, one person at a time. With your ongoing support, SPIN will soon move into a bigger space with showers and laundry and more room for basic services. The needs of our neighbors won’t stop there, but this will be a great step forward.
Thank you for your kindness,
Last April, SPIN Café announced acquisition of an expanded location to better serve our guests and provide for the needs of the community. As detailed in the Whidbey News Times, the additional space will include a commercial kitchen, laundry, showers, and some privacy for guests accessing resource center services.
Soon to be more than just a pretty picture: SPIN's new expanded location. Since that announcement, SPIN Board of Directors member Tom Saunders has taken the lead on preparation of the space for occupancy. Tom provides us here with an update.
Since April, much has happened. All drawings for the newly designed 3,600 square feet are completed except for electrical, which is expected in early August. Assembly of all paperwork necessary for permitting through the City of Oak Harbor is underway, with approval anticipated by October. Due to the scope of work and cost to complete, construction will be in two phases. Phase One will include the Drop-in and Resource Center which will also include washers, dryers, and a shower. The dining room will feature seating for 72 guests! With multiple seatings, this means we’ll be able to serve over 100 guests for dinner. The cost of this phase is estimated to be nearly $400,000 and require 90 days to complete.
Phase Two will complete construction of the commercial kitchen areas with estimated cost of $100,000. When we can finally prepare our guests’ meals on site, we hope to be open for dinner seven days a week.
This phased approach was necessary in order to address the December lease expiration at our present location and the need to have a new location available for our guests by that time. Funding for each phase must be ensured before we proceed with construction.
Our Board has developed a Plan B – for a temporary location of our drop-in center and meal service – in the event funding is not achieved in time for us to complete the project by the end of the year. But we are counting on the generosity of our community and our supporters to pull us through. The Board of Directors are excited about our new location and are working diligently to see its completion in the very near future.
They’re just figures on a page. But every one of them represents a victory, however small it is, in our mission to Serve People In Need.
Look behind the numbers. Be inspired!
Your SPIN staff reports numbers to the Board of Directors every month. Inside those numbers are the stories of progress in our efforts to serve our guests with dignity and respect, and to help them get their lives back.
A recent monthly staff report contained these black and white numbers:
2 – new guests who came to us after they were released from prison. SPIN provided them with connections to employment, housing, and counseling.
3 – new volunteers. It is a huge commitment to step up and be a part of the SPIN mission. Thanks to every single volunteer.
51 – guests served with laundry services. Don’t forget that the need for dignity through clean laundry was an original inspiration for the founding of SPIN.
52 – shower passes issued. So many of us take our cleanliness for granted. It’s a dose of reality to know how many of our neighbors can’t just step into their own private bathroom and turn on the water.
338 – volunteer hours, by 25 dedicated members of our community.
527 – dinners provided, an average of 52 per day served.
998 – total guest visits, an average of 32 neighbors coming to us every day for warmth, friendship, nutrition, and connection to vital services in our community.
In the time it took to read these few short words, SPIN likely ticked off a few more numbers.
Randy Beumer paints a simple picture.
“We all aspire to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”
In the words of Micah 6:8, Pastor Beumer sees the inspiration behind his Christian Reformed congregation’s support for SPIN Café.
Christian Reformed Church members unite to support SPIN (courtesy of Randy Beumer) “When SPIN was just starting, some members of our church had friendships with people at SPIN. We’ve been preparing the Wednesday night meal here in our church ever since, and taking the food down to SPIN. We’ve been doing it for close to four years.”
Pastor Beumer is quick to pass the credit around for all the work done by church members. Fran Stevens, he says, was key in starting this ongoing commitment to preparing meals for SPIN, and Maryann Rientjes has been Fran’s partner all along.
Longtime dinner prep partners Fran and Maryann. (courtesy of Randy Beumer) The crew “likes coming up with new meals, and getting creative with new ways to take care of people. One of the greatest things for me is to see how much our crew enjoys doing this together every week. It’s great fellowship, and they have a great time together, working behind the scenes as a team. They all have this regular time together, providing a hot meal for someone else, and it’s a lot of fun. We celebrate the chance, we feel privileged to have the chance, to be able to help others.”
When his church first started preparing meals, Pastor Beumer went down to SPIN Café and got to know people. “This is the ministry of Jesus,” he says, “to care for those in need, clothe the naked, feed the hungry. It’s part of our call to have a gracious response to what God has given us - to spread that kind of favor that we’ve received from God to other people. It’s more than just His word. Word and deed go hand in hand.”
The Christian Reformed Church, in partnership with Oak Harbor United Methodist, took on an extra level of service when the congregation agreed to host the Haven overnight shelter. Beumer remembers a visit from Faith Wilder, board chair of the Whidbey Homeless Coalition, to make an appeal to the church council.
“The timing was right, and we had the space available. The Lord provided a lot of open hearts. We made good connections with the Methodist Church, and we felt we could work together with them.” Beumer acknowledges that some church partnership arrangements don’t work well, but CRC’s church council was confident that this one was well organized. Having another church to work with, he says, really helped to share the load. And now, for nearly two years, The Haven regularly moves between the CRC church on Swantown Road and the Methodist Church downtown.
“We hope there are other churches in line” to share the load, says Beumer. But for now, they gladly continue to serve. Picture The Haven celebrates volunteers. (courtesy of Randy Beumer) As he continues to discuss community service, Beumer goes back to that humility in the passage from Micah. And he can’t keep from praising his own parishioners for their quiet, low-fanfare dedication.
“We try to see others as better than ourselves. We know we could be there too, in other circumstances. We try to align ourselves with the will of God. People in our church do a lot of things without blowing their horn and trumpeting about it. I’ve been serving here for twelve years and people just keep stepping up and serving, and I don’t always know about it. A crew from our church has been doing laundry regularly at the Haven for two years, on their own time, without being asked, and I didn’t even know... I just recently found out about it.”
Asked about challenges his congregation faces in this relationship, Beumer says “the church sets aside donated funds for this ministry, and our frugal cooking crew finds places that will donate food or provide the best deal, but it’s still a challenge.”
Beumer has a fond memory of visiting SPIN for dinners, and meeting Mary, an older woman who was a regular guest. “She passed away a few years ago,” he says. “But she just wanted to get to know people, have some fellowship in our community. SPIN was a great way for her to connect. She was a blessing. She was lonely, she was on a fixed income, and SPIN provided community for her. SPIN meets more than just a physical need.”
Pastor Beumer and his congregation continue to get reminders of the mutual blessings of their work. In January of 2018, a guest at the Haven had a heart attack and passed away. Church members knew him after he and his friends had attended their Christmas Eve service, so his death struck deep in both communities – Haven guests and CRC members. When the man’s friends asked Beumer to lead a memorial at SPIN, he stepped up without hesitation.
SPIN was packed that day, in that little friendly space, with church members and friends. “It was a privilege and an honor to be there and to help the whole community find closure,” says Beumer.
You can almost see Micah smiling as his lessons – and the blessings – continue to flow.
Laura Beumer works the crowd at an annual food drive. (courtesy of Randy Beumer)
Oak Harbor Christian Reformed Church is located at:
1411 Wieldraayer Road, Oak Harbor 98277
Services are held Sundays at 10AM.
Phone (360) 675-2881
Robin Hubert Lamont