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Martha & Mary Kids founder retires

Joanna Carlson was celebrated Jan. 25 upon her retirement after 30 years at Martha & Mary Kids.        - Kipp Robertson/ Herald
Joanna Carlson was celebrated Jan. 25 upon her retirement after 30 years at Martha & Mary Kids.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson/ Herald

POULSBO — Joanna Carlson has guided Martha & Mary Kids Children’s Programs and Services from an enrollment of five children in the early 1980s to hundreds today.

Since Carlson started Martha & Mary Kids, more than 1,000 children have been enrolled.

“She’s definitely been a builder,” Martha & Mary CEO Chad Solvie said.

The woman who shepherded the program from a single red, wood building to locations around Kitsap has retired. And on Jan. 25, friends and employees of Martha & Mary celebrated Carlson and her career.

Tamara Palodichuk, the new director of Martha & Mary Kids, worked with Carlson for more than 10 years. She said Carleson taught her how to be a leader, and how important community is.

Taking over for Carlson is a difficult act to follow, she said.

“The shoes she left me to fill, you just can’t,” Palodichuk said during the retirement party.

Palodichuk said she would like to see Martha & Mary Kids continue to grow.

The program was established in 1983. Originally, the program was used to provide Martha & Mary employees a place to bring their children. Now, Martha & Mary Kids provides services for children in the community, ages one month to 12 years: child care, academic preschool, junior kindergarten, private kindergarten, before- and after-school programs, an intergenerational program, and enrichment programs.

The intergenerational program brings children and Martha & Mary residents together frequently for activities, and is considered beneficial to children and residents. According to Martha & Mary, the program is “the largest child care program attached to long-term care in the country.”

Besides its services in Poulsbo, Martha & Mary Kids has an early learning center and kindergarten in Silverdale.

 

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