Home 2 Vashon, a benefit to help islanders pay for the high cost of traveling to the mainland for medical procedures, will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at Open Space for Arts & Community.
The benefit will support Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) efforts to provide ferry tickets to locals requiring trips to off-island medical facilities — a group that includes those who must seek specialty care for many chronic conditions, cancer and even obstetrics.
Last year, the first Home 2 Vashon benefit raised funds to pay for 633 ferry rides for islanders, many of whom faced serious illnesses. This year, organizers are hoping to net even higher proceeds to assist more islanders in need.
The night will include a Syrian meal by the Mustafa family, musical performances by The Kings of Mongrel Folk — a duo made up of Mark Graham and Orville Johnson — and the women’s music group, Listen in the Kitchen. There will also be a live auction of art and jewelry.
The benefit is the brainchild of islander Rich Osborne, who said he was moved to create the event after hearing personal stories of hardship from his friends. One of them, he said, told him that when she took her husband off-island to get cancer treatments, the couple couldn’t afford to buy lunch. Another friend told him that she was thinking of selling equipment from her restaurant business to pay the costs of going back and forth to Seattle for her husband’s cancer treatments.
“I thought to myself, ‘These are hardworking people, not asking for a free ride,’” Osborne said. “It’s not right that they should have to give up their dreams or lives to provide transportation to life-saving treatment.”
Osborne did some research and discovered a program run by VYFS that provides ferry vouchers for people who need them to get to their medical appointments off-island. At the time, however, the vouchers were only provided to those who fell within 10% of the federal poverty level. After raising more than $3,000 to help his friends personally, he proposed the first Home 2 Vashon benefit, which sold out and raised enough money to subsidize two-thirds of the vouchers VYFS provided to Vashon residents last year.
This year, with a sponsorship assist from Vashon Rotary to host the benefit at Open Space, Osborne and VYFS are upping the ante, hoping to raise $17,000 to pay for all the vouchers requested by islanders, as well as a part-time staffer to administer the program.
Osborne said he has been urged to find foundation help for the event but wants to foster a sustainable event that allows neighbors to take care of neighbors.
“What greater message could anyone facing cancer, or whatever medical challenge, get than knowing that our local community has our back and will pay for our medical transportation cost,” he said.