Sullivan bids good-bye to job at Fishline

POULSBO — It’s a phrase the staff and volunteers of Fishline hear on a pretty regular basis from the hundreds of families the food bank helps each year.

But it’s also the first thing that comes to Tricia Sullivan’s mind when asked what message she has for Poulsbo.

“Thank you.”

After more than three years at the helm of Poulsbo’s own Fishline Food Bank, Sullivan’s last day on the job was Dec. 31. In a matter of weeks, the six-year Poulsbo resident will be moving to Sand Point, Idaho with her husband Stephen Augustine. They’re moving closer to family as they await the birth of their first child, a daughter, in March.

While the move brings an exciting new chapter in their lives, Sullivan said this week that she’s also going to miss Poulsbo and the things that make it so special.

“It is a very involved and generous community,” she commented. “It’s sad saying good-bye to everybody. I’m going to miss Central Market. I’m going to miss the people.”

Sullivan was hired as Fishline’s executive director in 2001 after commuting to a job with Habitat for Humanity in Seattle. She said one of her more memorable experiences in the job was overseeing the remodel of the food bank’s 3rd Street location, which created a nicer space for community members to visit and volunteers to work. But the legacy that Sullivan hopes she leaves in the space has less to do with physical structures and more with people.

“Making sure children have been fed and taken care of,” she said of what she hopes to be remembered for. “I think before, people didn’t know that so many of our clients were children.”

Her nearly three and a half years on the job also saw a 40 percent increase in client services. Higher requests for help made for a more pressing need for support for Fishline’s efforts but Sullivan said the community always made sure there was enough. For instance, when the daily food donations became too much for Fishline’s volunteers to pick up in their own vehicles, the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Rotary stepped up to help furnish them with a dedicated Fishline van.

“I think providing a facility and infrastructure to keep up with demand has been very important and the community has always made that a priority,” Sullivan said.

But unfortunately, Sullivan said she sees more work ahead for the North Kitsap community and Poulsbo.

“I think it will continue to be an upward trend,” she said of the number of

community members requesting help from Fishline and the like. “The cost of living is becoming more and more unaffordable. It’s becoming harder and harder for minimum wage and low income people to find housing ... I think the trend Bainbridge Island has seen is spreading into the rest of Kitsap.”

Besides her work with Fishline, Sullivan is also a familiar face when it comes to community issues. She and Stephen were involved with the Poulsbo First group and fight against Wal-Mart and have seen their share of Poulsbo City Council meetings. Sullivan was also on the board of the Poulsbo Farmers’ Market in its inaugural season and the couple were active in the Kitsap Beekeepers Association. Sullivan said they got into beekeeping five years ago, following in the footsteps of both of their grandparents. Their bees, along with their chickens, will be making the trek to Sand Point with them. Sullivan said beekeeping was not only an enjoyable hobby but also an experience that closely mirrored what she found so appealing about working with Fishline.

“Bees feed each other and keep each other warm,” she explained. “It’s very much a community. They all have to work together or they won’t make it through the winter.”

The new Fishline executive director, Sharon Kirkpatrick of Hansville, took over Jan. 4. Sullivan said she was pleased to have been able to be present for the search for a new director and to meet her replacement.

“She has had a lot of interesting life experiences and I think that she’ll bring everything she’s learned through her various experiences to Fishline,” Sullivan said of Kirkpatrick.

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