DSCN1086Helping Hand  is moving to the campus of Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland the last weekend of January and will be open to see clients Feb. 2.

“Though we are sad to be leaving Langley, this new location will actually be more convenient to many of our clients as well as our volunteers,” said Rosemary Martin, Helping Hand’s part-time executive director. “It is on a main bus line and will have highway visibility. We are very grateful to Trinity for donating office space for us.”

The organization will be open in the new location at the corner of Woodard Avenue and Highway 525 on Feb. 2. Office hours will be the same: weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. The phone number will also remain the same: (360) 221-7777.

Helping Hand serves the working poor, the unemployed and under-employed, the homeless, single parents, seniors, the chronically ill, and others who find themselves facing sudden financial hardship resulting in an inability to pay for basic services.

The local Christian nonprofit charity is supported by a coalition of South End churches as well as local donations and local and regional foundation grants.

It began in 1981 as a telephone counseling service by local counselors Dick Vesque and Robin Dilley. Originally called South Whidbey Lifeline, it started with a $200 grant from Good Cheer and first operated from a space provided at the rear of the Clinton Liquor Store. In 1982 it moved to St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley.

It became apparent that many of the problems that callers faced were financial, and an advisory board was formed which included local philanthropist Judy Yeakel, the Rev. Bill Burnett from St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church, and Pastor Bill Beck of Trinity Lutheran Church. The charity underwent a shift of emphasis from professional counseling services to providing emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities and other basic needs. It also became a referral source for several South Whidbey churches to provide a more coordinated form of assistance to people requesting financial help.

In 1986, Yeakel purchased a house at 816 Camano Ave. opposite the County Fairgrounds, and dubbed it the “House of Hope.” Helping Hand moved in, sharing the building with Pregnancy Aid, which also served as a meeting space for several 12-step programs.

Yeakel died in 2014, and as part of her estate, the house will be sold. Trinity Lutheran Church offered to provide Helping Hand with offices which had been used by the now defunct Whidbey Island Share a Home (WISH) nonprofit, and most recently were being used to store donations for the homeless in Seattle and Everett. (An adjacent classroom will now be used for sorting and storage.)

“This critical ministry is a part of a social ministry system that provides needed assistance to our neighbors, and we are very happy to welcome Helping Hand to our Freeland campus,” Trinity Lutheran Pastor Jim Lindus said.

In 2014 Helping Hand served 682 people, including families with 154 children and made grants totaling $65,576 on behalf of South Whidbey residents. The highest areas of assistance are utilities and rent: $28,960 in direct payments to Puget Sound Energy were made to prevent shutoffs, and $20,302 was granted for rent assistance to prevent homelessness.

Other grants were made for propane, telephone bills, car repairs and emergency lodging/camping fees. A maximum of $400 per 12-month period may be paid on behalf of a household after meeting with a volunteer and supplying basic information.

Donations are being accepted online at www.HelpingHand ofSouth Whidbey.org to help defray expenses of the move.


The place to be this Saturday evening, January 10, at 7 p.m. is the Friendship Hall at Langley United Methodist Church for a Coffeehouse Jazz fundraiser for Helping Hand.

Rachael Arand will speak on our crisis of Homelessness.
Rosemary Martin will be speaking about Helping Hand.

Trio Nouveau & Kaj Lund Olsen will be performing along with other musical guests.

The event is designed as a coffee house with candle-lit tables and room for dancing dancing. There will be cookies and a selection of free food, with donations appreciated. All proceeds will go to Helping Hand.

For more information on this event, click to Facebook:

So come and celebrate the Seahawks win and help a good local cause.