Opinion

Introducing ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’

The Herald and North Kitsap Fishline are pleased to introduce a new monthly column, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

This year, Fishline will commemorate its 45th year of service to the North Kitsap community.  What began as a transportation and errand service run by volunteers from local churches, headquartered in a meeting room at St. Charles Episcopal Church, has become a thriving, busy food bank and emergency services agency.

In 1979, the first year we have recorded statistics, we served neighbors 400 times when they visited the food bank. Last year, we served neighbors nearly 28,000 times, distributing 1.3 million pounds of food and helping more than 600 households to avoid foreclosure, to keep their houses warm or to find temporary housing when they have lost theirs.

But the backstory to these statistics is where the human, personal story exists. This is where you witness the remarkable efforts of more  than 225 volunteers who take their turns keeping the food moving through or helping Second Season to sell items that turn into assistance for our clients.

It’s where you learn of the stories of our neighbors, our family members, our friends who are doing their very best to outrun a depressed economy, working where and when they can, worrying about whether it will be enough. And it’s where you learn about the way a helping hand can change lives. If you have ever been in a crisis in your life, and someone reached out to share the burden or offer a way out, you will know that feeling.  You never forget it.

As members of our community, supporters of Fishline and recipients of its services, you are the shareholders in this company. Our experience teaches us that interest in Fishline and its ability to care for our vulnerable is high, that many of us know that a community is strong when it cares for its own, and we all have a stake in that outcome. This month, we will introduce our new website because we wanted a vehicle to tell the stories, to celebrate our progress and to report on the challenges. We witness nearly every day the changing face of need in North Kitsap, and we want to offer that view to those who may not be able to see it firsthand.

We hope you’ll follow along as we share the poignant moments, the hints and signs of progress and the trends we notice. In many ways, we are a bellwether, a measure of community health. Working together,  we will stay a step ahead of the need as long as it exists, telling the story along the way.

— Mary Nader is executive director of North Kitsap Fishline. Contact her at director@nkfishline.org.

 

 

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