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Unable to find a home, Sound Works closes

Sound Works Executive Director Bob Middlebrook, center, works with clients Wednesday, two days before closing his doors. Sound Works has been unable to find a new location.                                     - Megan Stephenson / Herald
Sound Works Executive Director Bob Middlebrook, center, works with clients Wednesday, two days before closing his doors. Sound Works has been unable to find a new location.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO — Chris Osmanson, 18, began visiting Sound Works Job Center about six months ago to find employment. Because the job center closed Thursday, Osmanson and other unemployed patrons will have to find alternatives to the Poulsbo service.

“This definitely isn’t the time to be shutting down a resource like this,” Osmanson said.

Sound Works closed Aug. 15, and has until Aug. 31 to vacate the space. Work Source is still an available resource in Bremerton.

Sound Works Executive Director Bob Middlebrook is talking with Poulsbo Library Branch Manager Sharon Lee, to see what kind of services could be continued at the library.

“I’ve been watching this happen for months,” Lee said. “We’re trying to piece together some way [to keep Sound Works], so we wouldn’t lose Bob’s unique gifts … and his talents to the community.”

Lee said using space at the library could be an interim solution. Her “vision” is to set aside a few computers during the day for people to work on with Middlebrook, and also reserve a space in the downstairs conference room for a class once a week or so, to give Middlebrook and his clients space and privacy.

Middlebrook said he was concerned the library would be overloaded, and he wouldn’t be able to offer his core services. Middlebrook said the most important services he provides — free faxing and printing, and access to Washington State’s WorkSource SKIES job referral program — wouldn’t be available at the library.

“You know it’s not a perfect fit, but I was trying to see, what does fit, what could [fit], what is something,” Lee said.

Middlebrook and Sound Works Board of Directors have looked for a new location for months, after Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said the city could no longer subsidize the center with free rent. The center has been located at the corner of Iverson Street and Lincoln Road since 1995.

“It’s sad, I’m really upset about it,” Middlebrook said Wednesday. “There’s not much I can do about it. We’re here for clients, not for us.”

The city previously offered Sound Works space in the basement of the Parks and Recreation building on Front Street. Middlebrook said he always appreciates the city’s help, but the basement wasn’t suitable — faulty outlets, no windows for light and no handicapped accessibility.

Erickson had two contractors look at the space for improvements, which were estimated at $15,000, she said Wednesday. She said no one from Sound Works was interested in looking at the space.

Middlebrook said he was never told about the improvement assessment, but wouldn’t have been able to afford the improvements anyway.

“We could buy a building, or pay rent with that money,” Middlebrook said. “The reason we’re here is we can’t afford rent.”

On Wednesday, a few people were using Sound Works resources. Lisa Carrillo of Port Ludlow works during the tax season, but often goes to Middlebrook for help finding employment in the off-season. She was redoing her resume to find full-time, year-round employment. She said she’s not sure she’ll go to Bremerton for job referrals in the future.

Osmanson said he’ll probably go “door-to-door” at businesses looking for employment, rather than take the bus to Bremerton. Sound Works is especially helpful to those who aren’t computer-literate and can’t always search for jobs or work on their resume on their own time.

To contact Middlebrook, email soundworks@silverlink.net.

 

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