POULSBO — North Kitsap Fishline has about $1 million to raise for its Comprehensive Services Center — $500,000 if the state Legislature approves the capital budget which contains a grant for the nonprofit agency. But construction began anyway on June 24, fueled by confidence and a sense of necessity.
“We started as a humble food bank 50 years ago in the basement of a church,” Fishline board treasurer Becky Hall said. “We realized our clients needed other services: housing, utility assistance and things like that.”
In the ensuing years, the nonprofit evolved into a multi-faceted 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.
Since the food bank moved in 2014 from 3rd Avenue to the former Poulsbo RV site on Viking Avenue, room has gotten tight. Food is stored in five places around town, including two moving trailers the staff named “Betsy” and “Bob.” Meanwhile, other agencies throughout the county want to make their services more accessible to clients on the north end.
So, when Fishline’s Comprehensive Services Center is completed in early 2018, it will provide a presence in Poulsbo for Kitsap Mental Health Services, Kitsap Community Resources, YWCA, Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, Sound Works Job Center, and Department of Social and Health Services. The food bank will be expanded and rebranded as the “Healthy Foods Market.” The current building will be occupied by a Peninsula Community Health Services dental clinic, a clothing closet, educational space, and possibly a community center.
“Fishline is about meeting people’s needs where they are,” Fishline board secretary Roger Zegers said at the June 24 groundbreaking. “By having those services here, we’ll be able to get the services they need a lot easier and faster.”
County Commissioner Rob Gelder added, “This isn’t about just a building. This is about building people and building community.”
An estimated 200 people attended the June 24 event – a groundbreaking ceremony and community picnic.
Fishline is funded in part by proceeds from its Second Season Thrift Store on Anderson Parkway; and its Second Season Home Store on 3rd Avenue, the former food bank site.
Fishline is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise the rest of the money it needs to complete the Comprehensive Services Center. “We are about two-thirds of the way to our $2.7 million goal,” Fishline executive director Mary Nader said. “The biggest grant we received so far was [from] the State of Washington. We really appreciate that support.”
Donate $100 and you get a brick on the walkway at the Comprehensive Services Center. Donors of $1,000 or more get their names engraved on a silver fish.
Will change the landscape of Viking Avenue
In addition to bringing scattered human services to one location, improving access for North Kitsap residents, the new building will change the landscape of the former auto row. The Comprehensive Services Center will be two stories, 15,000 square feet. “As inexpensive as we can possibly make it, but it will be beautiful, colorful and it will have very interesting touches,” Nader said. There will be a garden with edible fruits and vegetables.
The project architect is Rice Fergus Miller. The contractor is FPH Construction.
In an earlier interview, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said the completed project “is going to help a lot with Viking Avenue [revitalization]. There will be a lot more people coming into the area and it will employ more people.”
Karla Boughton, director of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department, said she hopes the new center “sparks other property owners, developers and investors to get involved in reinvigorating Viking Avenue.”
Erickson, a Fishline board member, said the agency is “groundbreaking” in how it helps people who’ve hit a rough patch to get back on their feet, to find long-term solutions that will help them become and stay self-sufficient.
“We try to provide social services in whole different arrays and types. That’s not a common thing for a food bank to do,” she said. “This is a helping hand. This is not a hand out.”
To learn more about the project, go to www.nkfishline.org/capital-campaign.