Habitat for Humanity of Island County is engaging Whidbey and Camano artists in the fight for affordable housing.
The nonprofit will hold its first “Upcycle-it” fundraiser from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 at The Center in Oak Harbor, located at 51 SE Jerome Street. Habitat Resource Development Manager Kathy Blair said the Island County branch of the organization has never held an event like this one before.
“This is the first time we’ve held a fundraising event in quite a while,” Blair said. “We are looking forward to community support and hope we can turn this into an annual fall event.”
Crafters and artists from Whidbey and Camano islands have spent the last several months “upcycling” pieces of furniture from the Oak Harbor and Freeland Habitat stores, creating unique and functional works of art to be auctioned off at Saturday’s event. There are currently 19 pieces up for auction, though Blair said there may end up being as many as 25.
In advance of the auction, members of the public can also vote for their favorite upcycled piece online at islandcountyhabitat.org/upcycle-it-contest. The artists whose pieces receive the most votes will win prizes.
Sandy Foster, a relatively recent transplant to Whidbey Island, is one of the artists participating in the contest. She is a glass artist but enjoys branching out and trying other kinds of projects, as well. She already enjoyed painting her house and furniture, so when she learned about the Habitat event online, she thought it would be a good fit for her skills and interests.
“I love that you can help families in the county, not just by throwing money at an issue, but getting community members involved,” she said.
Foster upcycled two pieces of furniture for the event. One is a coffee table that she painted to give it a “country chic” aesthetic. The other is a chair that she separated into two pieces and painted, making it a decorative and functional entry bench unit.
“It was just a fun, silly piece,” she said of the latter.
Foster has a background in nonprofit work and joined the committee organizing the Upcycle-it event when she decided to participate in the auction. She said working with Habitat has helped her get to know her new community better.
Besides bidding on their favorite upcycled items, event guests can also enjoy a boxed lunch provided by Haggen and create their own craft by upcycling a picture frame into a bulletin board.
Furniture won’t be the only items up for auction, either; Island County “experience packages,” including such excursions as kayak and zipline adventures, wine tastings and nature tours will also be up for grabs.
Members of the seven families currently in the Habitat Homeownership Program will be in attendance to share their stories. One of those families comprises Annie, a single mother, and her two daughters. Habitat did not share Annie’s last name to protect her privacy.
“I’ve watched as family and friends have become homeowners, but it always felt so out of reach for my family,” Annie said.“I want to have a home that my kids can always come home to. With this opportunity, I feel like I have that.”