Island Senior Resources Learns through Transition 

By Michele Cato, Executive Director Island Senior Resources 

Island Senior Resources (ISR) reopened our Bayview and Oak Harbor doors to the public on July 5, and we are serving lunches in Bayview and Coupeville on Wednesdays.  With our reopening, the questions from the community have been flying fast and furious.  Simple questions might have simple answers but complex reasons behind them: 

  • “Will Not Your Grandma’s Bingo be starting up again?” (No.)
  • “Time Together?” (No.)
  • “Fun Band?” (No.)
  • “Bridge?” (Yes.)
  • In-person access to our Aging and Disability Resource staff or SHIBA volunteers?  (Yes.) 

There is no easy explanation for why ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to these or similar questions.  ISR’s mission, availability of resources (money, space, and people), and prioritization of the community’s needs drive our decision-making.  As we transition out of COVID-19, onboard new staff, assess changing client needs, and respond to new funding/contracting realities, we are experimenting, adjusting, and adapting based on lessons learned.  

Many key decisions were made even before the pandemic hit regarding ISR’s central purpose and the status of the Bayview building.  Our mission drives us to prioritize and provide essential services to the most vulnerable across Island County in nutrition, transportation to medical providers, case management, and access to aging and disability resources.  Staffing and funding levels determine the breadth and depth of our service delivery, and we continually seek good staff and supportive donors that share our vision.  We are currently evaluating the highest, best use of our physical space (ISR/Bayview and the Senior Thrift in Freeland) and expect to have the results of that study by fall.  In the meantime, space at Bayview is extremely tight, and we cannot offer the senior center activities many of you have previously enjoyed.  

I believe we should envision the future from a position of abundance not scarcity, resilience not status quo.  Program priorities must shift according to the ever-changing needs of those we serve and seek to serve.  This fall, we will be hosting a series of small group conversations about the needs of our aging community.  If you are interested in participating, please contact me at or P.O. Box 939, Freeland, WA 98249.  We want to strengthen our representation across the county – especially in North/Central Whidbey and Camano – and would like to encourage participation by people of all walks of life, education levels, work status, ages, races, ethnicities, religions, gender identification, sexual preferences, and abilities.  Please join us.  We want to learn from you, your lived experiences, and your ideas about a thriving aging community!  May we all age gracefully and healthily together.