West Sound Treatment Center in Port Orchard, tucked away in a quiet industrial area off Old Clifton Road, is doing outsized work assisting people who are battling substance abuse and the attendant issues that often follow: homelessness, unemployment, crime and desperation.
Robin O’Grady, the agency’s executive director, said the “little outpatient treatment center” she joined after taking the helm in 2006 has grown exponentially because of the economic downturn, shrinking government mental-health and substance-abuse services, and a troubling rise in heroin addiction in Kitsap County.
Each year, O’Grady said West Sound supports more than 2,400 individuals and families throughout Kitsap County. It offers 21,000 “bed days” for 81 chronically homeless individuals with multiple issues and serves more than 300 people per week within multiple programs.
“The ability to be self-sufficient is invariably connected to substance-abuse disorders,” O’Grady said. “Self-worth, family relationships, illness — both physically and emotionally — those are things affected by it. Those are the areas we try to help heal.
”If overcoming substance abuse isn’t difficult enough, O’Grady said the consequences of their disorder is far-reaching.
That’s where West Sound offers a helping hand, she said. The agency’s mission is to find safe housing for the homeless, counseling for veterans and incarcerated people with substance abuse issues, ongoing addiction treatment programs in Port Orchard and Poulsbo, transition services for released offenders, and job support and counseling.
West Sound is heavily invested in partnerships with other not-for-profit, faith-based and governmental agencies. O’Grady said close coordination with them is essential for her team’s clients to receive the help they need. But even with their team-based approach, she said it isn’t nearly enough.
O’Grady said she’s proud of the work her small team of 17 employees is accomplishing by helping troubled individuals get back on their feet and become productive members of society. But she acknowledges their task is gargantuan, especially for her staff of four housing case managers and five clinicians.
Instead of agencies expanding with additional services to meet a growing need, some in Kitsap County are shrinking. Others are closing down.
O’Grady said the Cascade Recovery Center in Silverdale closed its doors in April. This large not-for-profit agency was working with hundreds of substance-abuse cases, as was the state Department of Corrections outpatient program. They both closed, leaving about 320 individuals adrift without services, she said.
Many of them had no other choice but to travel from Central Kitsap to West Sound.
These changes have inflated the treatment center’s service statistics. “Overall, from 2007 to today, we’ve grown 300 percent,” O’Grady said. “Last year we grew by 40 percent. This is why we’re challenged now
.“Up to now, we’ve kept our heads down to do our work. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve got to change some processes and systems to sustain where we are financially,” she said. “We’ve been operating this year with a 5- to 10-percent budget deficit as a result of our growth.”
One example where costs and services aren’t adding up for West Sound: While government medical coupons pay for the majority of patient treatment costs, they don’t cover expenses associated with operations and staff salaries.
The agency’s yearly budget is $1.2 million, but it’s not nearly enough to bridge the gap between expenses and revenue. Without an influx of $100,000 from the campaign, O’Grady said West Sound and its board will be forced to make some tough decisions.
That reality has forced O’Grady and the agency’s board of directors to seek additional funding from the community through a campaign called “Build A Bridge.
”She said the funds will allow West Sound to “get over this hump and allow us more time to write grants and get investments from private and foundation donors,” O’Grady said.
“If we can’t raise the money, we’re going to have to start limiting the number of people we serve,” she said. “Our worst-case scenario is maybe shutting down some of our programs. In 10 years, I’ve never had to turn anyone away. But we’ve reached a critical mass. “We just can’t continue doing that anymore.”
Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to: West Sound Treatment Center, Fuller-Wise Building, 1415 Lumsden Road, Port Orchard, WA 98367 or online at westsoundtreatmentcenter.org.