Note: I volunteer for South Whidbey at Home, an aging-in-place non-profit started by Lynn Willeford. Alice Goodman asked if I would run this story written by her, Margaret Bendet, and Sam Crespi, and photos by various photographers, about a picnic last July held to honor volunteers. Alice asked that we post a request for more volunteers, as the organization continues to add new members. For more information contact South Whidbey at Home.–Kate Poss

There couldn’t have been a better way to restart than the South Whidbey at Home summer celebration.  It felt like a homecoming of sorts. After a year and a half of isolation and social distancing, we were out in a crowd, breaking bread together, and having a good time. Some were friends, some friends-not-yet-met, and all the faces were smiling.  

Eileen Jackson and Mary Sandford along with Sue Van Etten arriving and meeting with Corrine Bayley and Judith Arnett at the greeting table

This celebratory event was the South Whidbey at Home’s fifth year anniversary—a picnic lunch at the end of July on the grounds of the Baby Island Saratoga Club. The party was for  the volunteers, members, and friends of this local organization that is helping seniors stay in place by providing hands-on service—simple repairs, light house- and yard-work, transportation, and sometimes just someone to talk with. 

Our newest Call Manager Polly Widen and her husband Barry enjoying a lighter moment.

The pandemic was a special challenge for South Whidbey at Home because most of the members and volunteers are in that age division that was most at risk in the Covid pandemic. The question was how to help without putting everyone into greater risk. 

But we did it. We’ve done it for it for five years—including the last challenging year and a half—and that was a wonderful reason to celebrate. There were wrap sandwiches of many varieties, fruit salad, a sheet cake, and all the coffee or soft drinks anyone could manage. 

Nancy Van Wormer, Board Member and one of the picnic organizers along with Neil Rixe behind the serving counter.  Linda Good getting ready to select food.

South Whidbey at Home really knows how to celebrate. The members of this amazing organization that reflects Lynn Willeford’s vision of spirit and intention of the Island community of friends who help others couldn’t have chosen a better day.  The setting was gorgeous, weather gods were smiling, while the tall trees stood as honor guards. The conversation was lively as friends, neighbors, family, and providers laughed, reminisced, and shared stories.

Sarah Birger, Certified Yoga Therapist, in the multi-colored shirt seen over the right shoulder of the woman in blue jacket, led an intrepid group in simple Tai Chi exercises that help seniors maintain mobility and balance.
Attendees trying their hand at the “Getting to Know You” game of questions to find someone who has enjoyed a specific experience such as “Walking to Baby Island at low tide”.

I have to say that, for me [Alice Goodman], this the first big gathering since Covid had struck, and once I’d parked my car and was walking across the grass to the tables set out under umbrellas around the Baby Island Saratoga clubhouse, I just felt happy. It was the first tangible sign I’d had that, yes, we’re making it—we’re making this happen.   

Adele Walimaki, Call Manager, arranging flowers for the tables.
Call Managers Micky Coleman and Mary Solt in deep discussion with Ross Godwin, Board Member to their left, and Sue Van Etten, Ambassador to their right.
Terry Welch, Co-President and Nancy Van Wormer, Board Member, calling raffle prize winners for gift cards donated by many generous local businesses.

Written by Margaret Bendet, Sam Crespi, and Alice Goodman

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