SPiN Café hopes kindness is a sign of the times

— Created February 10, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Melanie Hammons

We hear the terms “contagion” and “contagious” and quite naturally, those words cause our hearts to skip a beat or two these days. 

But “contagious” can hold positive connotations, too. That’s precisely the driving force behind the “Kindness is Contagious” yard signs available now as an outreach for Oak Harbor’s SPiN (Serving People in Need) Café, says SPiN board member Carol Wall.

“The idea for these signs originated with a man in California concerned about people lacking community,” said Wall. “As he placed the signs throughout neighborhoods, he was struck by how positive a reception they generated. People began reaching out to one another more. The message resulted in more neighborliness, with individuals and families showing deeper interest in the well-being of those around them,” she said.

Valentine’s Day, of course, makes everyone think of, (what else?) love. So the kindness message is especially significant this time of year, but it’s a timely reminder for the rest of the year, too. Wall sums up her ideas about the meaning of Valentine’s Day, ideas that she and others working with SPiN share:

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday when we think about reaching out and caring for others.  So we thought this would be a good time to kick off this program to reach out to the entire community as a whole. It’s also meant to stress the importance of taking the time to care about those less fortunate, including our guests at SPiN.”

Wall says she became involved with SPiN about seven years ago.

“I really wanted to help meet the needs of hungry people around us:  So before I knew it, my husband, Bob, and I volunteered to serve on the SPiN committee.  I also assist with their Facebook page,” she said.

The yard signs distributed thus far on Whidbey Island are already garnering praise, Wall said.

“Our experience so far is that people who see the signs we’ve handed out react with smiles of approval. One local businesswoman I spoke with mentioned how tired and stressed she has felt for quite some time now, and that she believed we could all use a little more kindness in our lives. That’s why we’d love to see our city here covered with signs,” said Wall.

The signs are available upon request for a suggested donation of $25.  The donations will go towards funding programs offered by SPiN Café, which are geared toward individuals and families in need. Monday through Sunday, from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m., sack lunches are distributed to those in need at Hal Ramaley Memorial Park in Oak Harbor.  The sack lunches also are available Monday through Friday at SPiN Café itself.

SPiN’s efforts to assist others go beyond just the distribution of sack lunches, said Wall.

“We are happy to announce that, just this week, we’ve opened the SPiN Café Day Center at St. Stephen’s [Episcopal] Church [in Oak Harbor]. It’s a drop-in center open from 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. SPiN Café staff will be there, and COVID-19 protocols will be in place. We offer amenities such as coffee, snacks and a warm place for people to escape the cold and rain during the day and a way for our guests to share community,” Wall said.

Eventually, the day center operated by SPiN plans to add a computer and printer so guests can conduct housing and job searches. And when Phase 2 allows greater freedom to resume its other outreaches, such as its indoor meal program, more volunteers to assist and donations to fund those hot meals will be needed, said Wall.

“We invite people to take a look at our website for more information. They may also email us at spincafeoh@gmail.  Executive Director Michele Chapman welcomes anyone who’d like to volunteer or ask about other ways they could help to give her a call at 360-929-0281.”

The “Kindness is Contagious” yard signs may be picked up from the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, or by calling or dropping by SPiN Café, located at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, between 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. weekdays. According to Wall, the signs will be available for two weeks, or until the supply runs out.

“Our hope is that if this proves to be as popular as we believe it can be, that it can continue even beyond Valentine’s Day,” she said.

Cold winter weather notwithstanding, people are out in the fresh air these days. They’re also driving through local neighborhoods on their way to work or to pick up take-out orders from local restaurants, or for any number of other reasons.  Seeing a visual reminder of the joy kindness brings to others, on Valentine’s Day and beyond, just might bring a smile to their faces, too.

Learn more at spincafeoh.org. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is located at 555 SE Regatta Drive, in Oak Harbor.