Opinion

Removing the stigma from asking for help | Neighbors Helping Neighbors

By MARY NADER

When a local resident comes to Fishline for help, it is often after many months of worry. As we might if we faced hard times, the strong, self-reliant part of our nature insists that we can handle our troubles. It can be embarrassing to admit we can’t handle them alone.

Some life situations are so persistent, so hard to resolve that we reach an impasse. That’s when it takes all the courage one can muster to travel up 3rd Avenue and enter a world you never thought you would. It is then that you realize that the hardest part is walking through the door — it becomes so much easier after that. Fishline professionals and volunteers are highly skilled in welcoming troubled visitors with caring and non-judgmental hearts.

We recognize the fragile nature of these first-time visitors, and we treat them with the respect and admiration they are due. We listen, we encourage and then we go about building a plan. Stabilization includes food, housing and other essentials, so we start there.  This sometimes is enough until something changes in the difficult situation and things improve. A job comes through or a potential roommate is found. Or health gets better and work hours increase. When life gets back on course, these grateful neighbors often turn out to be the donors of the future.

This is the best-case outcome and the reason why Fishline is here. But there are some of our clients who, for various reasons, are not recovering from their crisis quickly. Perhaps the work they were doing is no longer available, requiring a career reorientation or retraining.  Maybe they are working but have not learned to budget, and their money often doesn’t make it to the end of the month. Perhaps depression and discouragement have taken hold, and confidence in working toward a better future is lost. These are scenarios that don’t bode well for self-sufficiency unless they are addressed with a more systematic approach.

Because we have relationships with folks in a way not shared by many in our community, it affords us an opportunity to bring about real and lasting change in a direction of personal prosperity. So we are hoping to offer education and counseling needed to break the cycle of poverty. We want to provide seminars on topics such as budgeting, tips on downsizing, job location and nutrition. We’ll work with our community partners to gather their expertise and wisdom and make it available for our clients.  Fishline has relationships with mental health professionals and family counselors, and we wish to further cultivate these options for our clients.

By taking our services in this direction, we offer the “hand-up” approach that helps our clients find the tools they need to contribute to our community and gain the self respect that comes as a result. We all deserve a chance to find our greatness.

Reach us at info@nkfishline.org to learn more about this opportunity to teach or learn.

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

 

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