Small Miracles: A huge help in troubled times

— Created February 24, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Unexpected medical expenses can be a difficult financial burden in the best of times; throw in a global pandemic and those unexpected costs could prove to be catastrophic for some.

That’s where Small Miracles can help in a big way.

Small Miracles Coupeville Medical Support Fund has been helping Whidbey Island residents in the 98239 Zip code with medical expenses since 2006. A small team of volunteers works to meet requests and fulfill needs year ‘round. Yet this organization rarely solicits requests for community financial support.

“We only have one mailing, which we just sent out for the year,” said Vern Olsen, who started Small Miracles with his wife, Martha. “People can mail a contribution back with the self-addressed, stamped envelope. Some people send it in at the end of the year, some do it every month. It’s totally up to them. We never go back and ask for more. We just want people to know we’re still here, meeting the needs of the community and if they’re interested, to think of giving to Small Miracles.”

Olsen said several community members have even offered to share some of their federal stimulus funds with the organization over the past year. He said he is constantly amazed at the Whidbey Island community.

“This island is known for its giving,” he said. “I’m so proud to be a resident of Whidbey Island; people seem to have good hearts here, they really do.”

Small Miracles helped 10 people with medical and dental bills in its first year. Since then there has been a steady increase in need for the kind of support the group can offer. Now the organization helps an average of 50 people a year with various amounts for a variety of needs.

As those needs rise, so does the need for support. Olsen encourages people to think about lending a hand during these extraordinary times.

“So many times people put medical expenses on the back burner,” he said. “They have to have food, clothing, they have to pay for rent. All these things are immediate needs that must be paid before they get to the ‘extras,’ like medical bills; they go on the back burner.”

Putting those bills off or being unable to pay them can have devastating consequences, such as being referred to a collection agency, forcing people to have to pay even more. This is where organizations such as Small Miracles can lend a hand. Olsen said the group has established connections with staff at WhidbeyHealth, for example, that can help people make arrangements to pay their bills.

“When we talk to a doctor, dentist or medical facility, they might lower the amount owed, knowing they’re going to get that money through Small Miracles,” he said. “So we’ve helped in two different ways: We’ve helped them financially and we’ve eased their minds, knowing they don’t have this worry that’s sitting there forever. Peace of mind is probably the key thing for people in need. It gives them a sense of control, knowing they have someone who will help.”

The organization has established connections with other nonprofits on the island and is able to refer clients to other organizations if needed.

“We work with people to tell them about other agencies that may be able to help in specific situations,” Olsen said. “For instance, the Lions Club can help with hearing issues, the Soroptimists can assist with mammograms. We can refer to other agencies when it’s appropriate. There is a real camaraderie with other nonprofits on the island that deal with medical needs.”

Small Miracles is available to all those in the 98239 Zip code and can assist with doctor and hospital bills, dental bills, prescription costs, travel costs related to medical expenses and other unexpected medical expenses. Those in need of assistance can leave a request online or via voicemail at 360-672-5651. Visit for information or to make a donation. All donations are tax deductible.