Donna Polizzi: Extraordinary caring and kindness at Oasis

Donna Polizzi: Extraordinary caring and kindness at Oasis

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The OASIS Center in Orcutt is truly the heart of Northern Santa Barbara County. Life is unpredictable in many ways. The unknown and isolation have taken its toll, and the COVID-19 crisis is especially trying and frightening for many senior citizens.

The OASIS, located at 420 Soares Ave., in Old Town Orcutt, is a non-profit advocacy group that has been serving our aging population from that location since 1984, but has roots in Orcutt that go back to the 1950s as the Orcutt Senior Club. In March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the stay at home order, the OASIS team stepped up as champions to comfort, advocate and support the members of the center.

Four active staff members and two board members called 1,400 OASIS members to support them during this crisis.

"Most importantly, we want every OASIS member to know that they are important to us and ensure that they are not alone. We have reached out to all of our members and will stay in contact with those who are most vulnerable or live alone. Our goal is to be certain that all of our members' basic needs are met. Until we reopen, many members are isolated and need to know we’re still here for them," said Doug Dougherty, CEO.

The OASIS exists to provide a safe place for seniors to go, connect, seek advocacy, or make friends and have fun. Over 150 different types of classes are offered. Under normal conditions, members can come together Monday through Friday for lunch and classes that range from safe driving to exercise, grief, art, and music.

On the second Monday of every month, a farmers market provides free produce to ensure that the most vulnerable members of Orcutt continue to have healthy options. And again, through the help of some brave volunteers, the OASIS team has been sucessful at distributing commodities to families in need on the third Thursdays of March and April, which has helped over 100 families. Until the center reopens, these two programs will continue as a drive-thru.

The OASIS staff, board, and volunteers responded in new ways to serve members during this shutdown. They have launched virtual programs like Functional Fitness to help keep members active. Staff did the research and held a virtual auction to raise funds to keep the center going since the 2020 Annual Gala and Fundraiser was canceled.

The OASIS is entirely dependent upon donations and grants to operate and provide essential services to seniors. With 1,400 members, the OASIS has outgrown its current facility. It is in the process of a capital campaign to build a new facility that will accommodate more members and offer additional services in Orcutt.

If you'd like to become a member or support the OASIS, they can be reached at (805) 937-9750.

Donna Polizzi is founder of Keys 2 The Coast and a campaign consultant for the OASIS. Visit Keys2theCoast.Com or Facebook Keys2TheCoast.

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