50 years later, Fishline keeps growing to meet area needs

Comprehensive services center proposed at Viking Avenue site

Editor’s note: This version corrects the time, date and location of North Kitsap Fishline’s community meeting. The time date and location were changed.

POULSBO — When times seem to be good – jobless rate low, housing starts up, new businesses opening – the harsh realities of our economy are evident at North Kitsap Fishline.

The 60-something widow who, having to move, is finding rents to be out of reach. The worker whose wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living. The family that must decide whether to put food on the table or pay a utility bill. The couple that cooks on a woodstove to save money.

Since it was established in 1967, Fishline has grown into a multi-faceted non-profit agency, funded in large part by donations and from revenue generated by its Second Season thrift and home stores.

Fishline provides food, fuel, financial and utility assistance, as well as emergency housing, to residents of Poulsbo, Keyport, Suquamish, Hansville, Indianola, and parts of Kingston.

According to executive director Mary Nader, each household that moves off the client list is followed by another. Several former clients are now Fishline volunteers. Several Fishline volunteers are clients.

“A couple of years ago, our big concern was lack of jobs. Now, it’s housing,” Nader said. “Times change and evolve, but there are some basic services that will always be needed.”

Other agencies are seeing that in the north end.

YWCA is working with the Rotary Club to build Morrow Manor in Poulsbo, long-term transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence.

Kitsap Mental Health Services has a counselor at Fishline one day a week. But on other days, those clients in the north end have to go to Bremerton. “When you’re fragile, it’s difficult to travel to see someone,” Nader said.

Sandi Carlton, executive director of Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, agreed.

“It’s a long way from Kingston to Bremerton or Port Orchard to see a therapist,” Carlton said in a story in this week’s Kitsap Weekly.

“Collaboration and one-stop service are always an important thing when providing social services, and we’d like to be able to provide these services to everyone.”

There are others. And Fishline’s growth is giving them an opportunity to increase their presence in North Kitsap.

Fishline’s proposed 15,000-square-foot, two-story comprehensive services center at Viking Avenue and Liberty Road was approved by the city on March 31. Fishline is in the midst of a $500,000 capital campaign to help fund the $2 million project (Fishline also received a $500,000 grant from the state).

Among those that will occupy offices in the new center: Kitsap Mental Health Services, Peninsula Community Health Services’ four-chair dental office, Kitsap Community Resources, YWCA, Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, Sound Works Job Center, and Department of Social and Health Services.

An open house and community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 11 at Poulsbo City Hall. Board members, members of the building team and Mayor Becky Erickson will participate.

When completed, the Fishline “campus” will consist of two buildings separated by parking: the current food bank, and the new comprehensive services center.

The existing food bank and offices will be used as a warehouse, a clothing closet, educational space, and possibly a community center.

The new building will be closer to Viking Avenue. The top floor will house the various service agencies. The bottom floor will be occupied by the new food bank – rebranded the “Healthy Foods Market.”

The project architect is Rice Fergus Miller. The contractor is FPH Construction.

The capital campaign website explains the importance of the project:

“Traveling to Bremerton, where most human services in the County are located, is difficult for our clients. For those clients who do make the trip, they are required to consult with a variety of agencies, receive isolated services without coordination, and may never get to the root of their problems.

“Fishline’s new Comprehensive Services Center will directly address this significant regional need. The new Center will bring together experts from the services most needed by our clients. Clients will be able to obtain these services in a familiar, trusted, and friendly environment that is easily accessible. Located on the major bus line connecting Poulsbo with the whole of North Kitsap, clients will have convenient access from Poulsbo, Kingston, Suquamish, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island, and the many rural areas surrounding these communities.

“Clients will be offered comprehensive and coordinated services in a ‘one-stop’ location supported by intensive case management. This holistic model is the only proven method for creating long-term stability. Case-management will follow a team-care approach with case staffing from all participating agencies. This coordinated approach improves client outcomes and reduces duplication of services.

“Each client will work with their case manager to develop a comprehensive services plan that will focus on client strengths and guide them to stability and success.”

To learn more about the project, go to http://www.nkfishline.org/capital-campaign.

— Richard Walker is editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at rwalker@soundpublishing.com.