The success of the first year of operation of The Exchange can be measured several different ways. One way is how much it contributed to the well-being of the greater Orcas Island community. We saw a very specific example of how one donor’s luxury item was an absolute necessity for another family.
Joey Gonzalez of Rockin’ Dogz Grooming makes his living caring for islanders’ dogs. In the past 18 months, Joey began experiencing increasing back problems. His doctor restricted his lifting first to 60 pounds, then to 30 pounds maximum. This meant he could no longer lift dogs onto his grooming table or into the bathing area. Once he got to the 30 pounds limit, he was nearly out of business, and his customers had to look for other groomers.
Just after The Exchange opened in late 2017, a donor gave us an electric dog grooming table. When Joey and his wife, Stephanie, learned of its availability, it gave them hope of returning to a business without medical restrictions. Joey bought the table for a fair price to both The Exchange and to Joey, which was well below the new price of nearly $1000. Joey immediately realized the possibilities, and began to see a return of his clients. The electric table allows him to get larger dogs onto the table without lifting them, and the wheeled structure enables him to get dogs to the bathing area, again without lifting.
Stephanie and Joey are so thankful for the electric table, and credit The Exchange for making it all possible. This was a really specialized item that appealed to very few people. The Gonzalezes recognize that without the new Exchange, they would probably never have known about the table. Joey said, “Having this table has meant the world to me. My education and training can still be put to use to take care of my family, and enable us to stay on Orcas Island—this is our home.” Stephanie added, “We’ve found so many other good things at The Exchange, both related to our business, as well as necessary items for our home.”
On behalf of all the staff and volunteers that make The Exchange work on a daily basis, we are encouraged and motivated by success stories like Joey and Stephanie. It feels great to be doing a service to the community while moving toward the Orcas Recycling Services’ goal of zero waste.