An Afternoon Celebrating 50 Years of Service!

by ISR’s Charles LaFond and Melissa Overbury-Howland

There is something truly special about the gathering of friends united by a vision.

Island Senior Resources (ISR) celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 31st at Greenbank Farm with over 300 donors, volunteers, staff and supporters. It was a glorious, sunny day with a cooling breeze; there was good food, good music, and good purpose: to thank and celebrate the people that shaped the success of ISR and come together as a community.

As people started to gather around the lemonade and water stands, one could hear the bursts of joy from friends seeing one another again, laughs from colleagues finally meeting face-to-face, and acquaintances bonding in conversations over a common interest – our mission.

After refreshments, our guests listened to readings of some of the letters to be added to our 50-year time capsule. How different might the world be in 2072 AD! What would we like to say to our future selves, our future generations? 70-year-old donor and friend of ISR, Helen Richards, read alongside Sarah Aree– a 17-year-old graduate from South Whidbey High school; although different in nature, both letters held a great deal of compassion and hope for the future.

In a moment marked with gratitude, our new Executive Director, Michele Cato, expressed: “We have so much to celebrate and be grateful for… we are truly celebrating the hundreds of thousands of people cared for over the past 50 years and those who cared for them. We are celebrating hundreds of thousands of meals delivered by volunteers and home check-ins made. We are celebrating millions of miles driven by compassionate volunteers to medical appointments… We are celebrating ISR, an organization that has been tenacious in its pursuit of excellence and advocacy on behalf of Island County’s seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers.”

Finally, Development Director, Charles LaFond, delivered an inspiring call to action for the next 50 years ahead: “I have a dream about the work we do at Island Senior Resources. A dream of a day when we cherish all aging seniors. A day when all adults with disabilities are cared for and cherished by their neighbors. A day when all caregivers are given time to rest, or paid a living wage. A day when no aging senior is left alone in a house for weeks at a time, and when their Medicare questions are answered, and they don’t lack food because they ran out of savings.

I dream of a day when we sit at the feet of our elders and listen to their wisdom rather than place them in institutions.

But I also had a dream that we would raise more money to solve these programs…and that dream, THAT DREAM came true these past three years. Thank you.

I have a dream for the next fifty years…that the lie of self-sufficiency is replaced by the decision to care for our neighbors. That these are not just beautiful islands, but also GOOD islands – made good, by people like you.”

Our celebration of the past was followed by a meal to launch the next 50 years! We enjoyed a delicious dinner of smoked pulled pork, courtesy of Rub Number 4 BBQ and the John Meyer family, a colorful Greek salad from Serendipity Catering and rice squares and buns from our wonderful kitchens at Island Senior Resources. To top it all off, guests were treated to some very yummy ice cream bars thanks to Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co.

As we sat on the lawn listening to the Island Jazz Collective, Ann Jess from The Doodle Biz produced live wall art using many of 600 words that guests had supplied on registration about what ISR meant to them. Event volunteers from Whidbey Westside Rotary and the Coupeville Lions Club made a tremendous effort.

“I recognized the many ‘considerations’ that your many event volunteers showed for us Honored Seniors,” said one of our guests, Ann S., “Like: pointing the way to closer parking for those of us unable to walk distance on unlevel ground, personable parkers (Mike and Kristi Etzell), lots of helpful guides to point the way to destinations, easy access to water and lemonade, the wonderful band playing peppy easy-listening sax music while we gathered, and later ate dinner…..a perfect late afternoon!!  Happy 50th!”

It was a spectacular afternoon. We couldn’t have done it without our amazing supporters – thank you for everything you do.

Here’s to the next 50 years!

Event Support provided by:

  • Whidbey Island Bank (a division of Heritage Bank) for underwriting the entire event
  • Greenbank Farm and the Port of Coupeville for the beautiful venue
  • Rub Number 4 BBQ and the John Meyer family for the yummy smoked pork
  • Serendipity for catering and event support
  • Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co. for cooling off our hot day
  • Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle and Charter for being on reserve for us
  • The Doodle Biz for some amazing wall art
  • Whidbey Westside Rotary club for sending 30 volunteers our way so that our own volunteers could relax and join in the festivities