Whether struggling with sudden increases in rent, emergency home repairs, or even funeral costs, people suddenly in need are finding a beacon of hope through the Whidbey Island Essential Needs Program. Spearheaded by Goosefoot Community Fund and the Whidbey Community Foundation, and administered by Opportunity Council, the Essential Needs Program has been instrumental in helping Whidbey Island locals meet critical needs that fall outside the scope of the assistance  usually offered by Opportunity Council or other organizations.

Real Impact on Real People

The program’s impact is tangible. From helping a family rebuild after losing their home in a fire to providing new mothers with essential items like car seats, the Essential Needs Program has made a significant difference in numerous lives over its years in action. The Essential Needs program means the Island County Opportunity Council team is able to say “yes” more often during critical moments. Too often, one major life event can be the catalyst for falling into circumstances that make it hard for individuals and families to find their footing.

One such example is Mariah, a local woman battling illness who was at risk of having her power shut off due to not being able to afford some repairs. Thanks to the Essential Needs fund, the Opportunity Council team was able to rally support around her: finding a local electrician to make the repairs and working with others to make sure Mariah had electricity and heat during an incredibly vulnerable time.

The Power of Community

Since its inception, the Essential Needs Program has shown how powerful community support can be. In 2023 alone, the program raised over $109,000, surpassing its goal and ensuring that many more Whidbey Island residents could receive the help they need. This incredible achievement was made possible by generous contributions from local businesses, community members, and fundraising events. Between May and the end of July for the past four years, Whidbey Island residents have come together to raise more than $480,000 to help their friends and neighbors in need.


This year, Goosefoot and the Whidbey Community Foundation are raising money for the Essential Needs Fund through July 31, 2024. This fundraising drive aims to continue the vital support provided to Whidbey Island residents, ensuring they have access to essential resources during times of crisis. Donate online via the Whidbey Island Community Foundation or through the Goosefoot Community Fund.

What the Program Covers

The Essential Needs Program addresses a variety of urgent needs, such as:

  • Childcare Subsidies: Helping parents afford quality care for their children.
  • Utilities: Assisting with essential household bills.
  • Rental Assistance: Preventing homelessness by covering rent in times of crisis.
  • Transportation: Ensuring residents can get to work or medical appointments.
  • Extraordinary Expenses: Covering one-time urgent costs like car repairs, medical bills, and emergency home repairs

Getting Assistance

If you or someone you know needs help, the Opportunity Council Island County Service Center is ready to assist. Households must have a Whidbey Island zip code and meet certain income criteria to be eligible. Assistance can be accessed by contacting the Resource Center directly, either online, by phone (360) 679-6577, or in person at 231 SE Barrington Dr. Suite 100 in Oak Harbor.

How to Help

Supporting the Essential Needs Program is a fast and easy way to make a difference for people struggling to make ends meet. Donations can be made directly online through the Whidbey Community Foundation or Goosefoot Community Fund websites. To make things even easier, folks who want to build their contribution into their usual grocery shopping can round up their purchase or tack a few dollars onto the total at The Goose Community Grocer.

The Whidbey Island Essential Needs Program exemplifies the spirit of community and the power of collective effort. By working together, we can ensure that all our neighbors have the support they need to thrive.