After a 10-year hiatus, Whidbey 101 returned April 29 with a free smorgasbord of more than 40 community partners whose focus is resilience while living on Whidbey Island. Whidbey 101 was held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland and drew a good crowd.
The program is designed for folks who are new to the island and for those who live here and want to become better involved with our community. The event included information for questions such as how to manage septic systems, resources for grandchildren, keeping our drinking water safe, opportunities for volunteers, emergency preparedness, hiking trails, recycling sites, local food resources, services offered by the county and services offered by Whidbey Health.
One of the benefits of visiting the resource fair was a 5-minute treatment by Lynne Donnelly, a practitioner who uses healing modalities such as CranioSacral Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques, SomatoEmotional Release, Zero Balancing, Qi Therapy/Qigong, and Tai Chi Chi Chuan to relieve stress and create healing balance in our lives.
Lying on a sheepskin-covered reclining chair, I relaxed while her gentle hands held my head. She gave me a glial cell treatment, which is used to cleanse waste cells from the brain. Wow! As I lay back with my eyes closed, the roar of the hall disappeared and I felt a sense of immense relaxation.
Lynne was joined by Sarah Birger, a popular yoga practitioner. The women are president and vice-president of the Whidbey Island Holistic Health Association. It promotes quality of life, through focusing on holistic health, education and wellness . With more than 40 practitioners, WIHHA, members’ practices include acupuncture, Functional Fitness, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, Reiki, T’ai Chi, yoga and more.
Other community partners participating in Whidbey 101 included:
- Climate Crisis Action Committee—the City of Langley declared a climate crisis following a petition by United Student Leaders in 2021. The high school students were inspired by young Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who petitioned world leaders to declare a climate crisis in 2018. For the City of Langley, the committee advises Whidbey neighbors to “promote, finance and implement rapid, just, and measurable actions and advocacy that fully meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.”
- Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund —founded by the late Lynn Willeford in 2007. The non-profit raises funds for South Whidbey residents who are unable to pay for medical care. About 200 South Whidbey folks a year are helped. Friends of Friends has disbursed more than $1.4 million dollars since its inception. One of its main fundraisers is the annual Mr. South Whidbey pageant. The title is awarded to the man who raises the most donations.
- Friends of South Whidbey State Parks—the team of volunteers helps maintain our state park’s hiking and bike trails, picnic areas, beaches and more. Caring for Fort Casey, Fort Ebey, Ebey’s Landing, Keystone Spit, South Whidbey and Possession Point state parks, the group replaces rotting steps, cleans campgrounds, removes invasive plants, replaces bridges and restores park benches.
- Goosefoot—a community non-profit which operates the Goose Community Grocer. The market’s proceeds help fund schools, local farmers, families in need, contribute toward workforce housing, and host events such as summer dances and February’s Mardis Gras, and is part of the team for Whidbey Earth & Ocean month, which has organized concerts, lectures and field trips to raise our awareness for Whidbey’s natural resources. Visit here for a calendar of events.
- Hearts and Hammers Neighbors Helping Neighbors —is another non-profit launched by the late great Lynn Willeford in 1994. The popular volunteer event makes home repairs and does landscape maintenance for folks who need a hand up. Each year—except during COVID—the non-profit hosts a fund-raising spaghetti dinner to help pay a day of helping South Whidbey neighbors. This year it is May 6. Sign up to volunteer or recommend a neighbor who needs help.
- Island County Auditor—is Sheila Crider. Her office is in charge of Island County elections and voter registration, payroll, accounts payable and financial reporting; provides licenses for vehicles, vessels and marriages; records official and historical documents.
- Island County Dept. of Emergency Management—works with the state and regional emergency management agencies to plan and coordinate actions for the preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery from natural and man-made emergencies and disasters. DEM provides hazard information, coordinates and provides emergency training for county residents and first responders. The DEM will operate the county Emergency Operations Center (EOC) when it is activated. It provides Homeowners’ guides to landslides and earthquakes, a two-week chart detailing two weeks’ worth of supplies needed should an emergency arise, and, a Map Your Neighborhood guide, which notes that “neighborhoods that are prepared for emergencies and disaster situations save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and trauma and reduce property damage. In addition, contributing as an individual and working together as a team helps develop stronger communities and improve the quality of life in the community. The Map Your Neighborhood program guides you and your neighbors through simple steps to help enhance your preparedness for an emergency. These steps will help you to quickly and safely take actions that can minimize damage and protect lives. It is designed to improve disaster readiness at the neighborhood level and teaches neighbors to rely on each other during the hours or days before fire, medical, police or utility responders arrive.”
- Island County Dept. of Natural Resources—is a branch of Public Health that cares for the island’s natural environment. Its role is to protect public health by monitoring surface water quality, preservation of salmon habitat, educating shoreline homeowners about best practices such as shoreline and vegetation management, drainage issues and structure relocation.
- Island County Environmental Health—has advice about bats, drinking water, ground water, indoor air quality, landlord-tenant issues, living with wildlife, onsite septic systems, issues outdoor burning permits, advises on residential heating tanks and heating oil, inspects schools to maintain health and safety protocols, maintains septic records and permits, and inspects solid waste disposal sites.
- Island County Noxious Weed Control Board—educates homeowners about control of noxious weeds and non-native plants. Some plants—in the Class A category such as cordgrass, garlic mustard, giant hogweed, knapweed, meadow clary, purple star thistle, Spanish broom and milk thistle— require landowners to eradicate them before they spread. Poisonous noxious weeds include poison hemlock, tansy, and spurge laurel. Invasive and aggressive plants that threaten waterways include spartina, knotweed and hairy willowherb. Aggressive invaders include garlic mustard, Scotch broom, Canada and bull thistle, and yellow archangel.
- Island County Public Health—is committed to maintaining and improving health of its citizens, monitors leading cause of disease and death, oversees Environmental Health and Natural Resources departments, provides health services such as access to baby and child dentistry, monitors and takes steps to prevent communicable disease, provides guidance on COVID, provides resources for chronic disease prevention, provides resources for preventing injury, educates new families on best practices for wellness during pregnancy and nursing, and provides education, nutrition and health screenings for pregnant mothers and their families.
- Island County Public Works—operates a GIS Mapping Center, provides GIS data downloads, administers the county’s parks and trails, operates solid waste and recycling centers, builds and maintains roads, provides traffic and transportation planning, and advices on surface water and drainage projects.
- Island County Shore Stewards—Since 2003, nearly 1,000 waterfront residents, farmers, parks, port districts, cities and businesses on Whidbey and Camano islands have joined Shore Stewards to learn better ways of managing their land to preserve critical habitat for fish, wildlife and birds. With WSU it published a Guide for Shoreline Living.
- Island Senior Resources—is a nonprofit which provides essential services for seniors, the disabled and their caregivers. Examples of services include aging and disability resources, Medicaid in-home care, medical equipment lending, medical transportation service, Medicare advising, nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, private in-home providers, and support groups. One of its fund-raising arms is the Senior Thrift store in Freeland.
- Island Transit—provides no-fare bus service six days a week, subsidized ride share and vanpools free Para Transit service for those who qualify. Island Transit emphasizes safety for its riders on and off the bus.
- Lighthouse Environmental Programs—is run by volunteers at our Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Their restoration and outreach are funded in part by the Washington State Lighthouse license plate program. Funds from the tax deductible Lighthouse Plate purchase provides yearly grants that help volunteer groups keep Washington Lighthouses open to the public. Lighthouse Environmental Programs are a partner of Sound Water Stewards and have provided tens of thousands of dollars for more than two decades to support Orca Network, Waste Wise Volunteers, and Whidbey Watershed Stewards. Tours, weddings, an interpretive center and a gift store are available.
- Marine Resources Committee—is a grassroots advisory board to county government. Their goal is to protect and restore marine resources in the Salish Sea through scientific monitoring, restoration projects and community education.
- Opportunity Council—is a private, non-profit agency serving homeless and low-income families and individuals. Its mission is to help people improve their lives through education, support, and direct assistance.
- Organic Farm School dates back to 2009 when it originated at the Greenbank Farm. Nowadays Judy Feldman manages the Maxwelton Valley-located farm school which teaches students skills from hoeing to planting, harvesting, marketing and creating one’s own business. Produces is sold at Payless, the Tilth Farmers’ Market, at its farm stand, and through CSA’s. The Organic Farm School is a non-profit organization that trains aspiring farmers to start and manage community-scaled organic farms through academic and experiential studies, including work on the OFS farm.
- Soroptomists International of South Whidbey Island—is a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for women and girls on South Whidbey Island and throughout the world. Through volunteering, mentoring and fund-raising, scholarships are provided to support, for instance, women re-entering school and deserving young women who need a hand up. Founded in 1989, the group provides women’s opportunity awards, apprenticeship awards, Live Your Dream scholarships, high school senior scholarships, and high school senior pro-tech awards.
- Sno-Isle Libraries—operates five libraries on Whidbey Island and maintains 23 libraries in Island and Snohomish counties. It is currently sponsoring Whidbey Reads—where the island reads one book—The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin. A number of bee and nature-related events were planned for the month of April.
- Sound Water Stewards—trained volunteers who steward our land and provide education for our island’s marine environment.
- South Whidbey at Home—is another of Lynn Willeford’s non-profit ideas created in 2015. It supports aging in place, advocates independence and creates community. Modeled on a Boston member-based non-profit which began in 2002, the successful program carries on. It It offers its members volunteer help for minor needs, connection to trusted businesses when paid professionals are required, and group social and educational activities.
- South Whidbey Cares Coalition—is housed at the South Whidbey Community Center. Its goal is to reduce underage use of alcohol and marijuana, improve academic performance and reduce juvenile crime. The coalition is a partnership of parents, youth, educators, health professionals, law enforcement, faith leaders and local government.
- South Whidbey Historical Society—collects, preserves and restores artifacts from the South Island’s colorful past. It sponsors regular “Then and Now” evening presentations that focus on South Whidbey Island history and maintains its “Virtual Museum” which contains digital images of our collections.
- South Whidbey Tilth Farmers’ Market—it encourages regenerative, organic and GMO-free growing methods among its farmers. This year’s farmers’ market opens April 30 and runs through Oct. 15. Founded in 1982, and purchased its property on Hwy. 25 and Thompson Road in 2000. Not to be missed is its Old School Market, aka OSM, pronounced awesome, makes fresh pizza, vegan dishes and baked goods in its kitchen and offers freshly prepared take-out food year-round.
- Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation or WAIF—WAIF manages animal adoption facilities in three locations on Whidbey Island (Coupeville, Oak Harbor, and Freeland). Through donations of time and money, WAIF operates with a life-saving philosophy to provide care for healthy, adoptable pets until they are placed into permanent, suitable homes regardless of time or space constraints. WAIF also operates two retail locations that help raise funds. It depends on donations for maintaining the current level of care for homeless cats and dogs, and to support low-income pet owners.
- Washington State Dept. of Agriculture—provides fee-based services to the agriculture community, promoting Washington agricultural products, and ensuring regulations are observed. It works with farmers and ranchers to ensure food safety and environmental protection.
- WSU Community Litter Cleanup Program—no-one wants to see trash at our beach and some of it endangers marine life. Volunteering with this program usually on Tuesdays ensures our beaches will be protected. Volunteers are furnished with bags, gloves and other cleanup gear. It has currently partnered with NOAA to map marine debris and plastics collected.
- WSU 4H Program—is open to all youth, ages 5 to 19.Typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology, and animal science. WSU 4-H offers activities for families that can be done outside of a commitment to a club, and resources for educators to use in their classrooms.
- WSU Master Gardeners—with more than 90 trained master gardeners, these trained volunteers staff free public plant clinics in various retail and public market locations in the north, central and south end of Whidbey Island. They provide advice on plant problems and offer vegetable, tree and ornamental plant gardening advice and valuable information about the integrated pest management control of noxious weeds and pests. They offer a free series of open to the public seminars at the Master Gardener Educational Garden at Greenbank Farm from May through October each year.
- WSU Waste Wise—with no landfill and much of our drinking water obtained from the island’s aquifers, it makes sense to recycle and reuse our refuse. Waste Wise volunteers teach the practice of composting and vermiculture and how to safely handle household hazardous wastes. They offer simple steps on living more lightly on the Earth.
- Whidbey Audubon Society—protects birds through education, outreach and research. The birders host field trips. For the first time it will host Wings over Whidbey, May 18 to 20, 2023. It is a community birding festival to include educational and informational presentations, a photography class, guided birding tours, a bird photo contest for children and youth, and the return of the Bird in the Hand event featuring our bird specimen library.
- Whidbey Camano Land Trust—Founded in 1984 the nationally accredited non-profit has stitched together a quilt of open space, partnered with landowners and island communities to help expand county and state parks, protected natural areas and local family farms, increased trail and beach access, and protected and restored fish and wildlife habitat. Since its founding the Land Trust has preserved more than 10,000 acres of shoreline, tidelands, trails, forests, open space, farmland, and wetlands on Whidbey and Camano Islands.
- Whidbey Community Foundation—a non-profit formed in 2016, whose aim is strengthening nonprofits, increasing grant making impacts, and reaching donors with more options to leverage their philanthropic interests.
- Whidbey Health Foundation—operates our medical center, neighborhood clinics, walk-in clinics, surgery and joint replacement, primary care, cancer care, family birthing center, emergency room, emergency services, a women’s care clinic, diabetes management, rehabilitation, behavioral health services, hospice, palliative care, lab, diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, skilled nursing, intensive care, men’s health, medical nutrition, respiratory therapy, sleep care, wound and colostomy care, and life flight transport to higher level specialized care facilities such as Harborview in Seattle.
- Whidbey Island Conservation District—serves all of Whidbey Island and its purpose is to engage our community with voluntary actions that keep our air, water, soil, habitats, and working lands healthy for all. A political subdivision of Washington State, it is a non-regulatory agency; it does not enforce compliance or impose penalties, but instead works collaboratively to help people responsibly and efficiently manage their land. At the event folks at the WICD answered questions about natural yard care and sustainable forest practices.
- Whidbey Island Grown Cooperative—is a cooperative which operates a Food Hub, which brings together more than 40 local food producers in one online marketplace. It publishes an Eat Local Guide, which details which produce is in season locally. The non-profit was launched in 2009 with the help of the Northwest Agricultural Business Center (NABC) as a group of farmers and community members seeking to promote local agriculture on the island,
- Whidbey Watershed Stewards—began in 1991 as a salmon education experience for South Whidbey students who released juvenile salmon into Maxwelton Creek. Formerly the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom, the group has since expanded to include watershed restoration. It is restoring a salmon run to Maxwelton Creek, teaches marine science at its outdoor classroom and encourages watershed stewardship.