— by Margie Doyle —
A young woman values the community and mission of OPAL Community Land Trust and realizes that “the best things in life aren’t things.” And so when she was given the large (to her) gift of $50, her thought was to donate those funds to OPAL’s affordable rental project, April’s Grove.
Brita Brahce has shared a home in OPAL’s Wild Rose Meadow neighborhood with her mom Linda Ellsworth for the past two years. Before that Brita lived on the mainland, off and on.
Brita can often be seen in her signature pink jackets as she volunteers for the Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels, and reads to kids at Children’s House, dressed as Princess Brita. She’s an active member of Orcas’ theater community; recent roles include a monk and villager in “Spamalot” and a villager in the upcoming “A Christmas Carol.”
Brita likes how safe it is on Orcas Island, and living close to everything in Wild Rose Meadow, just a 15 minute walk into town. When she received $50 for Christmas, she gave it to Lisa Byers, Executive Director of OPAL, in hopes of advancing the rental apartment project planned for North Beach Road. Brita says, “I don’t need a whole lot of material, not a lot of old stuff.”
She and her fiance Chris Pelroy are both on SSI (social Security Income) and with no paid employment, they need an affordable place to live. “At $300 a month, [an April’s Grove apartment] is perfect for us,” says Brita.
Lisa Byers said, “Brita’s gift is huge. It’s so important for us to get individual contributions. It’s so important to demonstrate that people on Orcas find it important to give; to show local support.
“The new goal toward making the April’s Grove apartments a reality is to raise $450,000 by January 15, 2018. With Brita’s gift, we are about $100,000 into it,” Byers said.
She added, “We’re looking for pledges, not necessarily donations. They will enable us to compete for tax credits which are a big source of funding for us.”
As further explained on the OPAL Community Land Trust website:
“The funding plan has four elements:
(1) donations and 3-year pledges from islanders and other supporters,
(2) a grant from the State Housing Trust Fund,
(3) Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission,
(4) a mortgage small enough to be repaid with rental income.
“Each successive source of funding relies on the previous one. We need local support to help make the application to the Housing Trust Fund competitive, and we won’t get the Tax Credits without the Housing Trust Fund grant.” (www.opalclt.org)
For in-person gifts, OPAL Land Trust offices are at the northwest corner of Lovers Lane and Enchanted Forest Road. Its website is www.opalclt.org and phone number is 360-376-3191.