2021 GiveOrcas Grant Request

Project/Program Description   

Under the well-recognized banner of Hearts and Hands (H&H), Orcas Senior Center (OSC) established Buddy-Check-In, the only program on Orcas island that systematically monitors the status of our most vulnerable seniors. This year’s health and safety restrictions made it clear that such a service had long been needed in our community. To launch Buddy Check-In, we reached out to 1893 seniors, matching interested seniors with Buddy volunteers. Today, the program provides weekly wellbeing checks and identifies service needs for 64 vulnerable seniors.  

OICF funding will sustain and expand OSC Companion Services for another year. It will allow us to: (i) continue to provide Buddy Check-In; (ii) resume H&H visits; (iii) integrate Buddy Check-in with H&H to create a comprehensive Companion Services program; and (iv) add clients and services, such as home deliveries of essential goods.

Need/Problem Statement   

Our experience under mandatory health and safety restrictions revealed that many Orcas seniors already had only a slim buffer for survival. Designed to safely provide emotional support, Buddy Check-In quickly revealed an existing unmet need to connect vulnerable seniors with physical supports they lack to age safely in place. The need had been there all along: to help keep isolated or vulnerable seniors protected, socially connected, and physically supplied so they may not just survive, but thrive. Working alongside San Juan County’s preparedness and response team, a group of 39 Volunteer Buddies have referred needs from and delivered supplies to needy seniors. When these county services stand down, the needs of those seniors will not go away. If funded, this grant will allow OSC Companion Services to stand in the identified gap, to sustain and strengthen its support, and to continue to supply critical services to seniors for another year. 

Project Outcomes   

Our short-term goal is to keep elders healthy and safe. Long-term, our goal is to assure vulnerable clients continue to get the services they need. Success means that our comprehensive Companion Services program improves quality of life for many seniors, allowing OSC to help others Age Well on Orcas. “Output” success will be gauged by number of Senior Buddies, H&H matches, volunteer hours, phone calls, and home visits and deliveries. To determine “outcome” success, we will survey seniors and volunteers to determine whether the programs foster hope and a positive attitude to seniors, and feelings of efficacy and community engagement to volunteers. We anticipate resuming H&H services and increasing home deliveries of essential supplies. This grant will also allow OSC to fill the gap when San Juan County shuts down its temporary assistance to seniors. With these enhanced services, we hope to at least double the number of clients currently being served.


Our 2021 cost to run the Companion Services (CS) program is estimated at  $25,122, comprised of the CS Coordinator salary of $21,926.67, IT costs for improved volunteer portal access of $2,000, software licenses of $179, and indirect expenses of $1016. CERF funding in early 2020 in the amount of $10,000 was used to launch the Buddy Check-In pilot program. In mid-2020 a second round of CERF funding allowed the program to continue, but it will be depleted by April. Therefore, we request an OICF grant of $19,000. OSC will allocate up to $6000 in matching funds from its operational expenses to the GiveOrcas campaign. Thus, for every $2 donated, OSC will contribute an additional $1 (up to $6000). All proceeds from GiveOrcas will be used for Companion Services and not for general operating expenses. Funds will allow us to operate for another year, firmly establishing Buddies as a core service of OSC, and allowing us to resume H&H and expand services to include home deliveries.