On a recent slightly overcast day, members of all four Rotary Clubs of Whidbey Island banded together for a good cause.
Volunteers from Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island, Rotary Club of Whidbey Westside, Sunrise Rotary Club of North Whidbey Island and Rotary Club of Oak Harbor spent their Saturday afternoon fixing up the House of Hope in Langley.
The home, which provides much-needed transitional housing for individuals and families in danger of becoming homeless, is operated by the Whidbey Homeless Coalition.
Since its opening in 2015, the House of Hope has helped a total of 39 families. The five-bedroom, three-bathroom home was originally built in 1943 and is showing its age.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the average stay at the House of Hope hovered around 90 days. In the past two years, as affordable housing has become more and more scarce on Whidbey Island, stays have extended to somewhere between four and six months on average.
“It was really nice to see all the community and the Rotarians rallying around us to support this cause,” said Tanya Stager Gran, the interim executive director for the Whidbey Homeless Coalition.
A total of 16 Rotarians and 22 community representatives from the House of Hope – including current residents of the home – painted several rooms, replaced a toilet, reshingled a storage shed roof and repaired its door, and built a picnic table and the enclosure for a children’s playground.
Michelle Munro, the incoming president for the Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island, said the Rotary Clubs have plans within the next few weeks to make even more repairs. In addition, the clubs have helped provide a new water heater, refrigerators, a dehumidifier and sump pump.
“The residents had choices on Saturday, and they were choosing to help on several of the projects,” Munro said. “We couldn’t have done it without them as well as the volunteers and staff from House of Hope and Whidbey Homeless Coalition.”
To complete the work, the clubs received a grant of around $8,000 from Rotary District 5050, which is composed of Rotary Clubs in Washington state and Canada.
Businesses that provided support include the Home Depot, Flowers by the Bay, OSM Eats, Whidbey Island Grown and Landshapers.
Perhaps one of the most exciting additions to the House of Hope will be the new playground in the backyard. The clubs also helped convert half of the house’s basement to a playroom.
There are currently three kids living in the home, although there have been as many as nine at one time.
“Their guests, a lot of times, are families with kids,” Munro said. “They do their best to make everyone feel secure and we really did want to further that but also make it a really welcoming place for kids to call home for a while.”
Participants as young as middle school age to those in their 80s participated in the day of service.
Munro said the Rotary Clubs of Whidbey Island chose the House of Hope to serve with the grant money because the Whidbey Homeless Coalition has helped residents from all over the island.