POULSBO — When North Kitsap Fishline breaks ground on June 24 on its Comprehensive Services Center on Viking Avenue, there will be more to celebrate than the beginning of construction of a building.
Fishline is celebrating its 50th year. The center it will build will bring scattered human services to one location, improving access for North Kitsap residents. And the services center building will change the landscape of the former auto row.
The new center “is going to help a lot with Viking Avenue [revitalization],” Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said June 22. “There will be a lot more people coming into the area and it will employ more people.”
The new employees will be professionals working in the social service organizations that will have offices in the new building, Erickson said.
“The building will house much-needed social services that we haven’t had in North Kitsap. It’s a good thing for Viking Avenue and also a great thing for the community.”
The attractive, two-story, 15,000-square-foot building will feature architectural details reflective of Poulsbo’s Scandivanian heritage, and the site will be landscaped. It will take over a large expanse of empty asphalt where Poulsbo RV once tickled consumers’ vacation travel dreams.
Karla Boughton, director of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department, said she hopes the new center will have “a sparking effect” on the Viking Avenue economy — “That it sparks other property owners, developers and investors to get involved in reinvigorating Viking Avenue.”
Fishline’s Groundbreaking and Community Picnic — 12:30-4 p.m. at Fishline, 787 NW Liberty Lane, Poulsbo — also celebrates the non-profit’s 50 years of serving North Kitsap.
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.
In an earlier interview, Fishline 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 an earlier story. “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.
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.
The top floor will house the various service agencies. The bottom floor will be occupied by a new food bank, rebranded the “Healthy Foods Market.” The current food bank and offices will be used as a warehouse, a clothing closet, educational space, and possibly a community center.
The project 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).
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 www.nkfish line.org/capital-campaign.
— Richard Walker is editor of Kitsap News Group, email@example.com. Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group, firstname.lastname@example.org.