Hancock cuts bait at Fishline

"POULSBO - She's helped offer a hand to the needy in the North Kitsap community for seven years, but the last seven months were too much for former Fishline manager Susan Hancock. Hancock, who has spearheaded everything from fund raisers to food drives during her service at the community food bank, said recent differences with Fishline's board of directors are what ultimately led to her resignation. Her last day was Friday, Sept. 7. When Fishline director Barbara Stuart retired in January after 34 years at the food bank, volunteers and employees at the 3rd Avenue fixture (as well as Hancock) believed Hancock was the obvious choice to succeed her. She has served as interim director of the agency for the past seven months. At the end of the interim period, the Fishline board of directors hired a new person as director and offered Hancock her old job back as manager. In response, she tendered her resignation. It's just a sad, sad state of affairs, she said Wednesday. I've been working there for seven years and have been doing two jobs for past seven months. Although doing both her job as manager and working as director was tough, Hancock said she felt it was chance to prove she was worthy of taking the new position. I agreed to this somewhat unfair arrangement because I wanted to show what I was capable of, and I think I proved myself, she wrote in an Aug. 26 letter to her volunteers, which explained her decision. I feel I have proven my ability to perform the work required. In addition to Hancock's usual duties at Fishline, for the last seven months she also tracked finances, obtained new donations, made public appearances, wrote a grant and secured the design and construction of a new roof for the facility. I have concluded that there is no possibility of advancement for me in this organization, she added. But while Hancock was certainly unhappy with the unexpected development, she isn't alone in her frustration. A number of volunteers share her viewpoint and also made yesterday their last day of work at the center. You don't work for Susan - you work with her, explained Charlie Wilson, who volunteers at Fishline with his wife Mary. Half of the employees there are going to quit, but we don't have an axe to grind. Wilson has worked at the food bank for three years and his wife has volunteered there since 1996. He added, Mary is concerned about the clients more than the personalities. Wilson said he sent a letter to the board of directors about a month ago pointing out that Hancock not only did an excellent job but was also organized and worked very well with the volunteers and clients. He has yet to receive a reply. The Wilsons will stay on at the food bank for the time being. Nevertheless, the loss of three or more other displeased volunteers at the Poulsbo site couldn't have come at a worse time. The food bank is just starting to gear up for its busy winter season, as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It's really sad because I do have a lot of connections in the community, Hancock said, adding that she was aware that some of the volunteers were quitting over the board's decision. I didn't encourage them. My volunteers are important to me, but I definitely didn't say to quit. Despite the circumstances, she said she wishes the staff at Fishline and Sparsum Butikk the best in continuing to help the under-privileged in North Kitsap. It's just a difference between continuity, Hancock remarked. I want the agency to continue - I really do. I still want people to get the help they need. "

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