Journal of the San Juan Islands


Town, Resource Center seek to bolster utility assistance program

August 13, 2013 · 1:12 PM

The Town of Friday Harbor and San Juan Island Family Resource Center have updated a joint project known as "Harbor Life Ring" to better assist town residents experiencing financial hardship to pay their utility bills.

Through the Harbor Life Ring program, a household is eligible to receive a grant to cover the cost of one month of utility bills, once a year. Applicants are screened by the Family Resource Center, a non-profit agency headquartered in Friday Harbor that provides a wide array of programs and services, as well as referrals in support of island families.

“We hope this new name and effort will strengthen the program, now that we are seeing more people in need” said Joyce Sobel, director of FRC.

A portion of of funding for the Life Ring program is provided by the Town of Friday Harbor, as part of its annual budget. Additional needs of the program must be met through donations by the public, according to town officials.

“We include a spot on your utility bill every month for contributions to this worthy cause” said Wendy Picinich, town treasurer. “100 percent of the money donated with your bill goes to the Family Resource Center to run this program”.

In addition to managing Harbor Life Ring, the Family Resource Center helps mentor children from elementary to high school level, provides pre-natal to three-year programs for young parents, and emergency counseling and support for families in crisis. The Resource Center emphasizes personal responsibility and works to strengthen abilities of its clients to raise healthy and resilient children.

The Town is seeking donations to create sustainable funding for the “life ring” the program provides.

“This is an incredibly generous town and island that always steps up for important projects” Mayor Carrie Lacher said. “We saw an increasing number of families that needed help this last year. Please consider giving as you fill out your own utility bill.”

Donations are tax deductible. For additional information, contact Joyce Sobel, 360-378-5246, or Wendy Picinich, 360-378-2810.



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