At the Strawberry Festival 2015 parade, our first on Vashon, my husband and I were offered seats in front of the Tea Shop by two very friendly women, Chris Jovanovich and Brigette Webb. We learned that they were caregivers and that they also kept medical equipment and gathered supplies that were available to islanders without charge. This is how we came to know and appreciate the scope of their work and the ongoing needs of Vashon.
Perhaps the Vashon Care Network is best known for its Care Closet, which has been helping islanders for over 12 years. The inventory has journeyed from being stored in caregivers’ garages to the Vashon Funeral Services garage and, for the past two years, at the Vashon Lutheran Church education wing. Islanders’ use of the Care Closet equipment and supplies has grown so that the church facilities are now full and overflowing. (And, yes, there is additional equipment currently stored in garages.)
This information about the Care Closet might surprise you. Did you realize that annually:
- 1,200+ islanders receive loans of medical equipment and free supplies;
- An average of 1,800 pieces of medical equipment are processed through the Care Closet;
- Several hundred pieces of equipment that are surplus are passed along to other non-profit organizations on the mainland;
- The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as its economic repercussions, have increased the need for supplies. Additionally, labor by volunteers has increased significantly to clean and sanitize all equipment before it is stored.
The umbrella organization that grew from the original Care Closet, the Vashon Care Network (VCN), is a registered non-profit 501c3, all-volunteer organization. Specifically, VCN:
- Helps families navigate many care options available on and off-island for individuals in need of care/assistance;
- Provides an updated Community Resource Directory;
- Arranges Caregiver Support and Education options;
- Partners and networks with several other island community services
- Maintains and runs the Care Closet (Vashon Lutheran Church at 18623 Vashon Highway SW)
On Oct. 15, VCN kicked off a campaign to build two small barns, to be located adjacent to the Vashon Lutheran Church parking lot. The funding program has been labeled the Barn Dance Initiative.
Please join us in funding two barns. Look for the posters around the island. Go to our website (vashoncarenetwork.org) for additional information. You may donate through the website or send a check to Vashon Care Network, PO Box 13135, Vashon, WA 98013.
The campaign goal is $25,000 to provide two small barns, to provide two 12 by 16-foot structures with 10-foot walls, lofts, insulation and finishing. The barns will provide more accessible, centralized storage, allow for more regular hours for pickup and return of supplies and equipment, and improve inventory and lending procedures.
Granted, this initiative will conclude with a virtual barn dance, but despite the pandemic, we will still feel the need to celebrate the benefits received by our community.
Find out more about all the work of VCN at vashoncarenetwork.org or call 206-473-8715 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org) to inquire about equipment and supplies at the Care Closet. Deliveries of equipment and supplies are possible, for those who can’t pick them up. — Judy Carr is a board member of the Vashon Care Network.