July 13, 2017

Judy Thorslund has done an amazing job with the website.  I have tried to continue in the spirit of lively and beautiful images, humor, and words of service and family.  Judy will continue to manage the Coalition's Facebook page as well as the Gallery and Our Extended Family pages on the website.  And of course she may, if we are particularly kind to her, consent to contribute to this blog.

Our Island is undergoing change. It is not a leap from point A to point B, but a slow, wandering journey and as a resident of almost 25 years it is sometimes unsettling and not clear to me where it is going.  Some friends say, when they hear of my new job, that they didn't know homelessness was a problem on the Island - while my young granddaughters ask about the person they see sitting in Generation Park in Langley with a shopping cart full of belongings. That tells me we have much work to do.

What we hear is that on North Whidbey the Navy population is increasing so available housing is shrinking and rents are increasing. We are hosting guests who work or are on social security, but no longer can afford to keep their housing.   On South Whidbey we hear that landlords are finding AirBnB and VRBO provides them a better income than a rental lease and that more well-to-do retired folks are moving in or buying second homes, which shrinks the number of rental units available.  School Districts on the Island are seeing an increase in the number of homeless children.  We have much work to do.

The Whidbey Homeless Coalition is also undergoing change, and as with all organizations the transitions bring frustrations, upended communications, and stretched staff. We have gone from two staff in March to six full and part-time staff today, as we  put new programs and approaches in place.  The Board meets twice a month now rather than monthly.  The number of volunteers committing hours and hours to mentoring and volunteering overnight at the Haven is amazing and without them we would be nowhere. (YES, we need more volunteers, but we are so appreciative and aware of the folks we have.)  Some of us get a little testy at times, but we are up to the challenges.  We hope that all of you will join with us, as we have much work to do.