OASIS Major Fundraiser Goes Virtual During COVID

The annual Spring Gala Dinner and Auction benefiting OASIS (Orcutt Area Seniors In Service) was shifted to an online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’ Roaring 20’-themed fundraiser was planned for March 20, just one day after Governor Newsom ordered California to “helter-in-Place.”With no time to reschedule, OASIS President and CEO Doug Dougherty and his team went to work, spending countless hours individually calling their 1400 members and adapting the event.

“We got it online. We had a silent auction and some other opportunities to donate,”Dougherty said. The OASIS staff worked with caterer Cool Hand Luke’ to coordinate meals and vouchers with members and sponsors who purchased event tickets. “e couldn’ have worked with a better organization. They were amazing. Short-staffed like everybody else, and they managed to pull it off,”Dougherty said.

The annual fundraiser is a big event for OASIS, accounting for about one-third of the nonprofit organization’ yearly revenue. Dougherty understands it is difficult to ask for donations during an economically uncertain time, so he was happy with the outcome. “e raised a little more than half of what we usually raise, and that, for what our expectations were, for the community to come rally around us that way, our hearts swelled,”Dougherty said.

OASIS serves members of the community’ aging population through classes, activities, and services. According to Dougherty, the senior center is a “ome away from home”to many of their members. The facilities have now been closed for over two months, and Dougherty is concerned. “t’ scary because of the mental side of things. We may not get people back out of their houses again if depression is allowed to set in,”Dougherty said.

During normal circumstances, as stated on the OASIS website, they “ork especially hard to prevent the conditions that may lead to our seniors becoming inactive, lonely, neglected or abused.”Dougherty says he has seen a large increase in depression and anxiety among seniors because of the quarantine. “or OASIS, this is tragic. Not only are seniors the most at-risk for contracting COVID-19, they are now being forced into isolation, the very condition the senior center is there to prevent,”Dougherty said.   

OASIS is beginning to slowly reopen their doors with limited class sizes by invitation and maintaining social distancing practices. “e’e doing a pilot to see how it works. Everyone is wearing masks and maintaining more than six feet distance,”Dougherty said, “t was so sweet, because some of them are wearing their nice dress clothes to return and come to an exercise class. They were so excited and they said it felt like they were getting ready to go on a date. Tears in their eyes, cheering.”OASIS has also posted various class videos to their YouTube channel for members to access from home.

Looking forward, OASIS is anticipating their new, permanent facility on the corner of Clark Avenue and Foxenwood Lane which will be considered for approval by the County Planning Commission in upcoming weeks. The plans for the new site will increase OASIS’facility square footage by three times. It will replace their current home which consists of portable trailer units intended to be temporary since the 1980’. Dougherty is asking the community for letters to the County Planning Commission from the community in support of the new construction.  Letters can be submitted to PAD@co.santa-barbara.ca.us.

Lindsay Grabau reporting