Granny’s awards Vashon Community Care $38,000

Granny’s Attic, Vashon’s bustling thrift store, awarded $38,000 to Vashon Community Care, one of the largest single donations in the nonprofit’s storied history, according to Jeannine Emery, president of the Granny’s board.

The gift was one of a handful it gave out earlier this month. All told, the nonprofit thrift store issued nearly $50,000 in grants — including $5,700 to the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness to cover the costs of a dental van and $3,000 to Shape Up, Vashon, a new organization attempting to help Islanders make healthful personal choices.

The grant to Vashon Community Care follows a $16,400 gift it made last year and a $13,000 gift the year before. Emery said Granny’s board and members decided to increase its support of VCC because of the crisis in Medicaid — a situation that is placing ongoing financial pressure on the small nursing home and assisted living center.

The gift is the largest donation Granny’s has given since Highline Medical Group took over management of the Vashon Health Center in 2004. Four years ago, the organization changed its bylaws, allowing Granny’s to support a range of health-oriented organizations in addition to the health center.

“It’s kind of a landmark,” Emery said of the $38,000 gift. It’s also an indication, she said, “of just how much stress there is on VCC’s budget.”

The funds will go towards filling what VCC administrators call the “Medicaid gap” for three clients in their skilled nursing center. Because of budget cuts, Medicaid reimbursements cover only 74 percent of the care center’s actual costs in its skilled nursing facility, said Janelle Ansell, VCC’s administrator.

The gap has taken a heavy toll on VCC in part because of its philosophy that it won’t turn anyone away due to his or her funding source, Ansell said. As a result, “we feel a continued obligation to take people who are low-income,” she said.

Currently, 21 of its 30 residents in the nursing home receive Medicaid, Ansell said. And in its assisted living center, she said, 13 of 31 residents receive Medicaid.

“We applied for the grant, knowing it was a little bit of a long shot. But our financial situation is very challenging,” Ansell said.

“We were ecstatic to learn we’d received the grant,” she added. “It makes a huge difference.”

Emery said Granny’s first priority remains the health center, which it supports to the tune of $9,000 a month. But the health center has not made many grant requests recently, Emery said, “and we were still accumulating cash.”

So at a recent membership meeting, Granny’s decided it had to keep in reserve three months’ worth of operating expenses, or $125,000, freeing up funds to hand out as grants, Emery said.

The fact that Granny’s has so much money to give, she added, is a testament to the community’s support of the thrift store.  It’s not surprising that during a recession people are shopping at the store, she said. But what is surprising, she added, is “that we’re still getting so many good donations.”

Those items that don’t sell go to Goodwill in Seattle, she said, where donations are down.

Meanwhile, she added, Tim Johnson has become Granny’s new business manager, replacing Richard Lipke. Johnson, who chairs the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council, has a background in organic food sales and distribution.

“We’re really excited about his vision,” Emery said. “We’re hoping he’s able to do even a fraction of what he thinks he can do.”


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