By Robin Bush, ISR Community Education Specialist
The Island Senior Resources building in Bayview is closed to the public, but inside it is a flurry of activity! All our essential services are still being provided to all of Island County since COVID began: Meals on Wheels, Aging & Disability Resources, Family Caregiver Support, Medical Transportation, Medicaid In-Home Care & Case Management, Support Groups, SHIBA Medicare Assistance (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors), Medical Lending Library, and Social Security classes. In addition, some services are provided via Zoom (support groups, SHIBA, and social security classes), which allows access to many more people who could not attend in person.
In 2017, we shifted our focus from being an activity center to being a resource center serving seniors, adults with disabilities, and those who care for them. No other organization on the island provides the depth and range of essential services we do. With competition for activities across south Whidbey increasing and participation in the activities we offered significantly dropping, activities were turned over to local groups who utilized our facility for their gatherings and classes.
Community Meals continued in Bayview until the facility was closed to the public in March of 2020 due to honoring county and state COVID safety precautions for our community members, staff, and volunteers. Since then, the demand for Meals on Wheels has increased so substantially that the space which previously served as our dining room is now fully utilized for meal preparation, packaging, and delivery prep for Meals on Wheels. We are providing 64,000 meals each year to our community from our kitchens in Bayview (delivered weekly by volunteers to Meals on Wheels participants in South Whidbey, Coupeville, and Oak Harbor)
We also consolidated our offices in Freeland into the building in Bayview to save overhead costs and focus our financial resources on service delivery. Every room in the Bayview building is being used to the fullest to coordinate services, with no room remaining to offer community activities. We are all fortunate that activities previously held at the center are slowly finding new homes elsewhere to provide socialization opportunities for community members of all ages.
For some, it may be hard to say goodbye to how the Bayview building was used in the past; we all have fond memories of past eras, but ISR is adapting to respond to a community in transition: budgets are stretched tighter than ever, and essential services are needed at a much higher level by more people.
ISR is celebrating its 50th year anniversary this summer, and we are making the necessary changes to assure sustainability of services for the next 50 years.
Island Senior Resources’ mission is to provide resources that enhance the emotional, social, and physical well-being of seniors, adults with disabilities, and those who care for them. We remain dedicated to this mission and strive to meet the ongoing and increasing needs of the community. We are here for you!