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Literacy Council hopes to book new space soon

POULSBO — Hundreds of people find help with everything from getting their GED to taking a driving test from the Literacy Council of Kitsap each year.

But now, it’s the council that needs a hand up.

“We’re going to be homeless in Poulsbo,” Executive Director Paul Drzewiecki said with a chuckle this week.

The non-profit organization, which offers free tutoring in a variety of subjects, was recently notified that its leased space on the second floor of Poulsbo’s Marine Science Center will soon no longer be available. About 114 North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island residents receive assistance there, but as the MSC has been expanding its offerings this year, its staff members need to add more office space.

“They’ve been very nice but I’d say we need to be out by this summer,” Drzewiecki said. “We’ve been joking about setting up tents.”

The volunteer-driven service is hoping it doesn’t come down to that and someone willing to rent the group the space need for a reasonable price inside the Poulsbo city limits will step forward.

Council volunteers estimate they need at least 160-square feet for office space and 200-square feet for a meeting room. Both spaces should be handicapped-accessible and have provisions for computer installation. Because the literacy council is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity, there are tax benefits available to any prospective landlord.

Drzewiecki said he likes the current Poulsbo location because it is central to their service area, close to bus lines for students without cars and also because the Poulsbo community has supported their work.

“We’d really like to stay in Poulsbo,” Drzewiecki said.

The Literacy Council of Kitsap is celebrating its 25th year of working in the community. It started out helping mothers on welfare get their GEDs. Today, the council offers assistance in GED and diploma preparation, workplace training, basic literacy, English as a second language and computers to any community member who needs it. Currently, the program boasts 460 students county-wide, who are served by 174 volunteers. Among those students are 95 low-income North Kitsap students, 21 at-risk youth ages 16-21 and 59 minority students from 28 different countries.

“It’s unbelievable, the hours these volunteers put in and that’s why we want a nice place for them,” Drzewiecki said.

Volunteer Shari Patrick, one of more than 25 volunteers who work out of the current Poulsbo office, has been with the council for nearly one year. In that time, she has tutored an ESL student from Silverdale and a Port Ludlow man who needed help taking the written drivers license exam after chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Though her background is working in elementary special education classrooms, Patrick said she finds tutoring adults very rewarding, especially since she sees how appreciative her students are of the free help.

“I can’t personally imagine how I would go through life without being able to read,” she said.

But Patrick said a new space would be the icing on the cake. The office at the MSC has been very nice because they get a lot of drop-in visitors and because of its central location, she said, but the limited square footage makes life difficult at times.

She said she often meets one of her students at the Poulsbo Library just to avoid conflicting with other sessions.

“I don’t know how they do it on GED night. It’s just so small,” Patrick commented of their current hallway space that was converted into an office. “We’ve got everything we need here, we just need a bigger table area because working with your students, you want quiet sometimes.”By CARRINA STANTON

Staff Writer

POULSBO — Hundreds of people find help with everything from getting their GED to taking a driving test from the Literacy Council of Kitsap each year.

But now, it’s the council that needs a hand up.

“We’re going to be homeless in Poulsbo,” Executive Director Paul Drzewiecki said with a chuckle this week.

The non-profit organization, which offers free tutoring in a variety of subjects, was recently notified that its leased space on the second floor of Poulsbo’s Marine Science Center will soon no longer be available. About 114 North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island residents receive assistance there, but as the MSC has been expanding its offerings this year, its staff members need to add more office space.

“They’ve been very nice but I’d say we need to be out by this summer,” Drzewiecki said. “We’ve been joking about setting up tents.”

The volunteer-driven service is hoping it doesn’t come down to that and someone willing to rent the group the space need for a reasonable price inside the Poulsbo city limits will step forward.

Council volunteers estimate they need at least 160-square feet for office space and 200-square feet for a meeting room. Both spaces should be handicapped-accessible and have provisions for computer installation. Because the literacy council is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity, there are tax benefits available to any prospective landlord.

Drzewiecki said he likes the current Poulsbo location because it is central to their service area, close to bus lines for students without cars and also because the Poulsbo community has supported their work.

“We’d really like to stay in Poulsbo,” Drzewiecki said.

The Literacy Council of Kitsap is celebrating its 25th year of working in the community. It started out helping mothers on welfare get their GEDs. Today, the council offers assistance in GED and diploma preparation, workplace training, basic literacy, English as a second language and computers to any community member who needs it. Currently, the program boasts 460 students county-wide, who are served by 174 volunteers. Among those students are 95 low-income North Kitsap students, 21 at-risk youth ages 16-21 and 59 minority students from 28 different countries.

“It’s unbelievable, the hours these volunteers put in and that’s why we want a nice place for them,” Drzewiecki said.

Volunteer Shari Patrick, one of more than 25 volunteers who work out of the current Poulsbo office, has been with the council for nearly one year. In that time, she has tutored an ESL student from Silverdale and a Port Ludlow man who needed help taking the written drivers license exam after chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Though her background is working in elementary special education classrooms, Patrick said she finds tutoring adults very rewarding, especially since she sees how appreciative her students are of the free help.

“I can’t personally imagine how I would go through life without being able to read,” she said.

But Patrick said a new space would be the icing on the cake. The office at the MSC has been very nice because they get a lot of drop-in visitors and because of its central location, she said, but the limited square footage makes life difficult at times.

She said she often meets one of her students at the Poulsbo Library just to avoid conflicting with other sessions.

“I don’t know how they do it on GED night. It’s just so small,” Patrick commented of their current hallway space that was converted into an office. “We’ve got everything we need here, we just need a bigger table area because working with your students, you want quiet sometimes.”

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