A volunteer rings up a purchase at Senior Thrift, which is operated by Island Senior Resources as a revenue source to support its numerous programs and services. The nonprofit agency’s “Together We Care,” campaign is attempting to raise $10,000 on Aug. 1. (Photo provided)

A volunteer rings up a purchase at Senior Thrift, which is operated by Island Senior Resources as a revenue source to support its numerous programs and services. The nonprofit agency’s “Together We Care,” campaign is attempting to raise $10,000 on Aug. 1. (Photo provided)

Island Senior Resources aims to raise $10k Aug. 1

Growing demand for essential services strains nonprofit agency

For nonprofit organizations, a goal of raising $10,000 is standard fare.

But not many aim to accomplish it in one day.

But that’s the “challenge to our community” of Island Senior Resources that’s determined to raise $10,000 in 24 hours on Wednesday, Aug 1.

“We set a high fundraising goal,” said Executive Director Cheryn Weiser, “because money from grants and the United Way has been flat for years. We’re trying to meet the needs of outreach to the community.”

Island Senior Resources, formerly known as Island Senior Services, is a private, nonprofit organization that provides numerous programs and resources to help people age 50 and older remain independent, safe and informed.

Services are available at its main centers in Bayview, Oak Harbor Senior Center and Camano Center. It also provides some resources and information at churches and other locations.

Transportation to medical appointments, family caregiver support and in-home case management are among its services. It also keeps people fed through Meals on Wheels and lunches served at seven locations on Whidbey and Camano islands.

People age 18 and over who have disabilities are also served by many programs of Senior Resources.

There’s much more to senior services these days than domino and bingo games.

“We help answer questions about housing, finances, Medicare, Social Security and we have an adult day program and provide nutrition,” Weiser said. “We’re the last organization in Northwest Washington that bundles all these services under one roof.”

For 20 years, it’s coordinated a program called Time Together. It’s a daytime program that allows caregivers and family members to take a respite from daily support duties as their loved ones are cared for by qualified staff and volunteers. The program is available at the Oak Harbor Senior Center and is about to be re-established in a renovated space at St. Augustine’s-in-the-Woods Episcopal Church in Freeland.

The organization provides transportation to get residents to health care appointments, pharmacies and grocery stores. However, there aren’t enough volunteer drivers to keep up with demand.

About 10 percent of Island County residents —- one in eight people — use Island Senior Resources. Many more could, Weiser said, because residents age 65 and older comprise 60 percent of the population in Coupeville, South Whidbey and Camano.

“The needs are just skyrocketing,” she said. “It’s been an uphill battle for years to keep up with the demand.“

Island Senior Resources isn’t a government-run program, although that’s a common assumption of the public, Weiser pointed out. It’s a nonprofit group that receives county funds to provide certain services. County funding was cut in half in 2011 to $156,000 a year, Weiser said.

Island Senior Resources’ annual $3.2-million budget is a mix of government funding, private grants and community donations. The organization raises some money through sales at Senior Thrift in Freeland. Retirees choosing to live in the scenic —and rural — beauty of Whidbey and Camano islands may not be aware that local senior services depend heavily on private donations.

“We have a much greater segment of the older population that any surrounding county,” said Robin Bush, outreach manager. “In Island County overall, 25 percent of the population is age 65 or older.” People can donate to “Together We Care” in person at Island Senior Resources locations, by mail and online.

Donations are accepted through Aug. 1. To donate, go to www.senior-resources.org/donate or mail to Island Senior Resources, P.O. Box 939, Freeland, Wash. 98249 (in memo, write “Together We Care.”)

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