Opinion

‘The saving place’ grows to meet demand | Neighbors Helping Neighbors

By MARY NADER

When, in 1967, a small group of concerned North Kitsap residents created the local helping agency called Fishline, they couldn’t imagine the impact it would grow to have.

Always intending to alleviate the financial pressure upon its struggling neighbors, Fishline focused on its thrift shop in the early days, then called Sparsum Butikk (the “saving place” in Norwegian), and providing food was just a sideline.

Fast forward to the early ’90s, and now the Butikk is overflowing with merchandise and customers, but so is the need for food.  When an opportunity to purchase the building on 3rd Avenue presented itself, which would provide ample space for a full-service food bank and a nice bit of room for the Thrift Shop, Fishline leadership boldly moved forward.

In 2009, the Thrift Shop was moved to its current location on the waterfront,  and the food bank expanded to the entire building.

Each step forward signified the recognition that Fishline was growing in its service to the community with every passing year. In 1977, when records were first kept, 400 visits to the food bank were made.  Compare this with our 2012 statistics, when nearly 30,000 household visits were recorded, and you can see why we keep outgrowing our facilities. Add to that an increasing need for emergency services, a  children’s backpack program, onsite representation from Kitsap Community Resources and a desire to move in the direction of client enrichment, and it’s pretty obvious that we need a facility that encourages our vision, our progress and our ability to help anyone who needs our help.

For five years, Fishline has been in search of a new building. The right combination — affordability, accessibility and privacy —  was not easy to find. But when we stepped into the old Poulsbo RV building, we knew nearly instantly that we had found our new home. It was as if someone had built the building knowing someday it would be Fishline. Sufficient office space with a peaceful, confidential client intake area combined with a 1,200-square-foot market and food processing space will open up possibilities that could never be a reality before.

Adequate cooler and freezer space will reduce waste and invite more food options for our clients.  Volunteers and staff will not spend hours each day rotating food or retrieving food currently located in several off-site locations.  Onsite consultation for our clients in the areas of health care, employment, nutrition and budgeting can now be arranged.

Space for meetings and seminars on the topics most needed by our clients can be offered without moving the potatoes. A resource space for computer use and other helpful information access is planned. And, for the first time in our 47 years, clients, donors and volunteers will not have to circle the block to find parking. The acreage will also be insurance for future growth.

We thank you, our community, for your support — past, present and future — which makes it possible for this new Fishline facility, giving “the saving place” a whole new meaning.  Our website will keep you informed on the progress as we remodel and move in and will indicate our needs for monetary, volunteer and material donations. Together, we will prepare this space and ready Fishline for whatever lies ahead. Join us on Jan. 18 at our Empty Bowls Fundraiser to hear about the plans we have and how we’re progressing.

In an ideal world, where everyone has equal access to opportunity and prosperity, the need for Fishline services would lessen.  That is a worthy goal, and one that we all share. But until then, our community can be proud that it cares for its troubled through agencies like Fishline. Our new facility will help us offer relevant and impactful services with respect and a renewed commitment to a strong community, the greatest Christmas gift of all.

Happy holidays from all of us at Fishline and Second Season.

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

 

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