Whether it’s giving up something for someone else, participating in a fundraising walk to defeat a disease, cleaning up a local beach, or changing the way we live, Kitsap residents are coming up with ways to make a big difference in our quality of life and in the health of our environment.
You can make a difference. And it doesn’t always take a lot to do so; collectively, our individual actions add up to better, healthier communities. Here are some examples.
Student gives up birthday presents to help food bank
While Alexis Bethel, a 10-year-old Bremerton girl, was waiting for her mom to get a cup of coffee at a local espresso shop, she noticed a flier describing the North Kitsap Fishline's Food for Thought children's meal program.
The program provides weekend meals for children who get most of their nutrition at school meals during the week.
Struck with concern for her hungry peers, she asked her mom, Christa, if they could find a way to help. Christa loved her child's benevolence, but was concerned about donating since dad, William, was deployed in Korea and money was tight.
Alexis had an idea — for her upcoming birthday, the family could donate food items for the children’s packs, instead of presents.
On April 1, six of Alexis’ friends gathered for her birthday party and packed enough bags to provide a whole weekend of food for 100 children. They had great fun doing this kind deed and talking about other ways to help.
On April 8, Alexis and Christa brought in their donation, just in time to get the packs to children returning from spring break.
“We salute Alexis and her family for such a selfless expression of care for her fellow school children,” said Mary Nader, executive director of North Kitsap Fishline Food Bank and Emergency Services in Poulsbo.
Walk to defeat multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. MS attacks the myelin sheath around the nerve, interrupting the flow of information between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. (Actor-singer Annette Funicello died April 8 of complications from MS.)
The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. And you can help.
Contribute to or walk in the annual Walk MS (www.walkMSnorthwest.org) April 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Klahowya Secondary School in Silverdale, and Bainbridge Island High School, 9330 NE High School Road, Bainbridge Island.
Thousands of walkers are expected at this and other Walk MS events, all of which raise money to fight multiple sclerosis; support programs and services for people living with MS and their families; and fund research into prevention, treatments and a cure.
In addition to the Kitsap County walks, other Walk MS events will be held across Washington state. The Seattle Walk takes place April 14.
The Greater Northwest chapter of the National MS Society set a fundraising goal of $1.6 million for Walk MS Washington, presented by Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food & Drug. Together with a dozen other Walk MS events in Alaska and Montana, the Chapter hopes to raise $2 million during its largest annual event.
“Every Walk MS team member has a different story and motivation for participating,” chapter President Patty Shepherd-Barnes said. “Some rally around a friend or relative living with MS. Others walk in memory of one who is with them in spirit. And many deal with the ups and downs of MS in their own lives.”
To make a donation or learn more, call (800) 344-4867 and press 2, or go to www.walkMSnorthwest.org.
Help beautify and protect our local waters
April is Earth Stewardship Month. Join other community members and clean-up Sinclair Inlet’s shorelines, April 13, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Following the collection of debris, volunteers can contribute to a litter survey by sorting and counting the types of litter that were found. This is a great event for individuals, groups and families.
Areas covered: Evergreen Park; the Bremerton shoreline, from the marina to Manette Bridge; Manette, from the Boat Shed restaurant to Bachman Park on Shore Drive; Silverdale Waterfront Park; and Port Orchard Annapolis Pier.
Volunteers for Annapolis will meet at the Annapolis Pier. Contact John Denis, firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 871-2571.
Volunteers for all Bremerton locations will meet at the Bremerton waterfront at the end of 2nd Street. Free parking is available under the Hampton Inn. Contact Renee Johnson, email@example.com or (360) 337-7224.
Volunteers for Silverdale Waterfront Park will meet at the park. Contact Renee Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 337-7224.
Participants will see first-hand the negative effects that litter can have on our environment. Wildlife can be harmed by mistaking litter for food or becoming entangled in rope or plastic bags. Our region relies on recreation and tourism, but who wants to boat, fish, swim, or sight-see while surrounded by trash?
Event sponsors are Blue Sky Printing, City of Bremerton, Kitsap County Public Works, Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management, Kitsap Trees and Shoreline Association, National Park Service, Still Hope Productions, Inc., Washington Sea Grant, the state Department of Ecology, state Department of Transportation, Washington State University Kitsap Extension, and Waste Management.
Make your home more energy efficient
Making your home more energy efficient is good for your pocketbook, and it’s good for the environment.
Since 2011, the grant-funded RePower program has helped fund energy upgrades and efficiency improvements for more than 700 homes in Bainbridge, Bremerton and Kitsap County.
There’s enough money for 900 more homes, but the grant’s life is expiring. Upgrades and other improvements must be completed by July 15.
You can learn more at RePower’s last event April 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Woodward Middle School on Bainbridge. Participants can get a special rebate of $800 on upgrades and improvements, in addition to other assistance.
In July 2010, the City of Bainbridge Island and City of Bremerton were selected as two of 20 communities in the United States to receive a BetterBuildings grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. With this award, the cities and key partners came together to implement the RePower Bainbridge and RePower Bremerton programs. RePower Kitsap is funded by two separate grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.
All told, the three RePower programs will hopefully reduce the energy consumption of 6,550 homes countywide. That’s good for the pocketbook, for the environment, and for our future.
For free, RePower Kitsap will visit your home and conduct an energy audit of your home. They’ll identify energy leaks and determine ways you can save energy. They’ll connect you with cash incentives and tax credits to offset the cost. They’ll also replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use two-thirds less electricity and last 10 times longer than traditional light bulbs and fixtures; and they’ll replace your showerheads with low-flow heads, for free.
Keep Kitsap clean every day
Take a drive or walk and you’ll probably see roadside litter and illegal dumping.
It may be cigarette butts, beverage containers, or fast-food wrappers tossed from a car. Or mattresses, sofas, appliances, or even harmful chemicals that someone has dumped along the side of the road.
It’s not just an aesthetic problem; litter poses an environmental problem.
Despite years of campaigns to curb the problem, garbage still finds its way onto roadsides, public and private lands, streams, and eventually Puget Sound where it can pollute beaches and wildlife habitat.
It’s a big job to clean it up and keep it clean.
Kitsap County Public Works Department’s Solid Waste Division and the Kitsap Public Health District work constantly to clean up litter and improperly disposed garbage. The Clean Kitsap Program — a program administered by the county Solid Waste Division — coordinates the cleanup of hundreds of miles of county roadsides every year, along with thousands of pounds of illegally dumped solid waste at parks and public lands. This program is funded through a $1-per-ton fee built into the solid waste disposal rate at the Olympic View Transfer Station, and grant funding from the state Department of Ecology.
Some highlights from the Clean Kitsap Program in 2012 include:
— Inmate litter crews cleaned up more than 20 tons of litter along more than 1,300 miles of road.
— County staff cleaned up 367 illegal dump sites, totaling almost 100 tons.
— County staff assisted in the cleanup of nine properties, totaling 40 tons of waste through the voluntary cleanup assistance program.
— 171 Adopt-A-Road Volunteers removed more than 3,000 pounds of litter from 264.5 miles of roadway.
— Residents used the Clean Kitsap-sponsored “Tire Roundup” in April 2012 to properly dispose of more than 25,000 tires.
— Residents brought approximately 45 tons of furniture and other household bulky waste to the Kitsap County Furniture Round-Up Day at the Olympic View Transfer Station on June 10, 2012.
The 20 tons of garbage picked up by the inmate crew, which filled more than 6,000 bags, took more than 7,500 manhours of labor. Using the inmate crew saved the county $158,299.
The Kitsap County Public Health District has a different focus, conducting investigation and enforcement of illegal dumping and premises complaints. In 2012, the Health District investigated 532 complaints, 142 of which were illegal dump sites. Inspectors have the ability to issue civil infractions for violations of the Health District’s Solid Waste Regulations, including illegal dumping. The fine is $524 per violation per day.
So what can you do to help the problem? Officials with Clean Kitsap Program recommend:
— Use a qualified, permitted contractor to haul your waste to the transfer station. The Health District advises calling your service provider to discuss removal of waste in excess of your normal collection volume if you subscribe to curbside garbage collection. Go to www.kitsapcountyhealth.com/environment/ under “Waste Handling A – Z” for a list of permitted contractors.
— Be sure to cover and secure your load before heading down the road, including tying down the lids on garbage cans.
— Reduce litter in your neighborhood by bagging and tying garbage for curbside pick up, so items don’t spill out when the garbage truck empties it.
For information about the Clean Kitsap Program, the Adopt-A-Road program, and guidance for how to properly secure your load, go to www.kitsapgov.com/sw/cleankitsap.htm.
To report illegal dumping, call the Kitsap Public Health District, (360) 337-5235, or fill out the online Illegal Dumping Complaint Form at www.kitsapgov.com/sw/cleankitsap_3.asp.