The wheels are going ’round for new Martha and Mary program

POULSBO — It was fitting that at Martha & Mary’s most recent fund-raiser, children in attendance sang “The Wheels on the Bus.”

The Poulsbo-based non-profit organization is hoping the song’s proverbial wheels will begin spinning for real.

With a campus now in Silverdale and a wide range of programming from early child-care to elderly assisted living, Martha & Mary administrators believe new transportation, in the form of a school bus, is needed to connect its various centers.

The bus could also be used connect to elementaries whose students go to Martha & Mary for before or after school programs.

“We don’t have a bus big enough and we’ve been limited through renting a bus from Laidlaw,” M & M School-age programming director Mike Birch said. “Renting is also quite expensive.”

The price tag for the bus is $50,000. Nonetheless, fund-raising efforts thus far look promising. Martha & Mary held a luncheon and silent auction last Sunday at Kiana Lodge, which is estimated to have raised $15,000.

“The community has been very supportive,” said Martha & Mary assistant administrator Marcey Farron. “We’ve had a lot of support from businesses, especially along (Poulsbo’s) Front street.”

Children’s author and Bainbridge Islander George Shannon was also on hand at the Lodge to read stories to the handful of kids in attendance. The luncheon was attended by about 120 people.

One aspect of Martha & Mary’s that would highly benefit from a new bus is the Inter-generational Program. The IGP allows young children to visit with the elderly in the nursing homes — a benefit to both the young and old, Birch and Farron said.

“The human touch is so important,” Farron said. “To someone who might not have frequent visitors at the nursing home, the connection can be huge. And the children are open and unafraid.”

A new law has also been passed requiring children younger than 5 years of age to wear safety restraints when traveling on a bus. Martha & Mary’s new bus would have those restraints, so it could be used by the youngest of children.

A pizza party was also held by Martha & Mary for Cheryl Glen’s classroom at Breidablik, the North Kitsap classroom that raised the most items for the auction.

Martha & Mary provides before and after school programs for students of elementaries whose parents who work early in the morning or late in the evening.

The bus fund-raiser has had early success but there’s $35,000 to go, Birch and Farron added.

“We would encourage anyone to donate,” Farron said.

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