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North Kitsap Fishline celebration June 7 at noon | Neighbors Helping Neighbors
By MARY NADER
After years of dreaming and planning, Fishline moved into its new facility on Viking Avenue the first weekend in May.
Thanks to the sweat equity of hundreds of neighbors, the contributions of products and services from so many local businesses and the support of city leadership, Fishline was able to open the doors of a building that will welcome our neighbors for decades to come.
It was an extraordinary first day. The line of curious and relieved clients formed outside the door, joyful about the easy parking. When the doors opened at 10 a.m., they were greeted by a trained volunteer who helped direct visitors based on their current need. Food clients were invited to move on to the shopping area. Other clients, with emergent needs for financial aid or for referrals to other safety net agencies, met with our client advocate in a confidential, comforting space.
Those who walked through the entrance to the food market were immediately bathed in light and openness, then shopped in a nearly perfect duplication of a grocery store, unhurried and uncrowded as they moved from canned goods to produce to bakery items. Our grocery partners made sure we had enough this day, especially fruit and vegetables, and so the choices were varied and plentiful.
The striking contrast between our old and new facility provoked a priceless reaction from our clients. Without exception, we heard gratitude and admiration for the model we have created, often expressed through tears. Volunteers mingled on the market floor, restocking and answering questions, sharing the good energy and enjoying the space they need to keep stock moving out to the market. Donors drove right up to the door, quickly and easily dropping off their gifts, and many stayed a little longer to tour the facility.
As we had hoped, our new space will also open up options for new ideas and inventive approaches in a way we couldn’t consider before. Just in the first week, Kitsap Harvest began building a group of raised garden beds on the property and will be giving gardening classes as they create these demonstration gardens. West Sound Academy offered the services of their brightest students and began tutoring sessions for our client children to help them prepare for finals. We have begun planning onsite access to employment and health care specialists, and the computers in our Resource Room have been of great help to clients who can't afford Internet service at home but need to look for work.
We are so proud of how far we have come and how much promise the future holds. None of this would be possible without the support of this great community and all who have come together throughout the years to make our dream a reality.
Join us for our grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration on June 7 at noon so we can thank you and together celebrate this monumental accomplishment.
— Mary Nader is executive director of North Kitsap Fishline. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.