KCR gives out funds for those in need

If you want your house to be weatherized, contact Kitsap Community Resources.

Tony Ives, executive director of KCR, told the Bainbridge Island City Council May 21 that, “We have a hard time getting rid of it,” regarding federal funding for such needs. “We never want to give money back.”

Ives talked to the BI council with the hopes of getting that city more involved with KCR, which has been around since 1965 and has offices in Port Orchard, Silverdale and Bremerton. It has Head Start programs all around the county, except for BI, where it used to have one.

KCR recently did a needs assessment and 4,200 people participated countywide, including many from BI. The survey shows, “Each community needs something different.”

On BI, needs include: child care, access to health care and housing because “people who work here can’t afford to live here. Housing is something near and dear to my heart,” Ives said.

Councilmember Leslie Schneider said BI wants to do a better job of connecting with entities off-island. “We’re starting to be a little more across-the-bridge focused,” she said.

Deputy mayor Jon Quitslund said BI certainly has needs KCR could help with, such as senior and multi-generational housing.

Councilmembers Ashley Mathews and Brenda Fantroy-Johnson were impressed with Ives’ presentation.

Your excitement is contagious and community-centered,” Mathews said.

Fantroy-Johnson added that his leadership at KCR is so successful others are copying it. Instead of competing for the same funds, Ives emphasizes collaboration rather than “fighting over things.”

In his presentation, Ives talked about the issues KCR focuses on.

“Housing is essential to what we do,” he said, adding that since COVID it has transformed itself to be more collaborative to make funding go further, making it more sustainable. The program also helps homeless and those at risk with things like rental assistance.

KCR is also involved with Early Learning and Family Services, with programs such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels. “Family services are central to what we do,” he said, adding it’s part of their effort to help families with a continuum of care. He said Head Start is going through a “dramatic stage right now,” as it’s hard to find education for youth.

WIC, or Women, Infants & Children, is one of its most popular programs. Still, “Many young mothers don’t know we do this,” Ives said. WIC helps mothers with healthy food and nutrition tips, along with reducing health care costs and supporting economic stability.

Employment and Training is free career planning and training for those 18 and older. It partners with Olympic College and others. It also helps with Veterans Assistance. “It seems like I’m rambling but we do so much. We provide as many wraparound services that we can.”

The Christmas Angels program provides gifts for those in need.

Ives said the federal government loves the energy assistance and weatherization program, and gives KCR so much money that it has a hard time finding enough contractors. “We have a line of customers waiting,” he said, adding that program reduces utility costs. He said about nine months ago KCR worked with the Suquamish Tribe to provide weatherization for elders. It also works with the housing authority in Bremerton. “We leverage our money because we can’t do it by ourselves,” he said. “That’s how we amplify our services.”

Because of the waits, Ives said KCR wants to be “more efficient with how we deal with customers.”

KCR’s strategic plans include: improve and streamline access to services; increase funding to sustain and build programs; invest in people; foster strong, diverse communities through collaboration; increase employee satisfaction; and improve internal systems.

“We can change things, especially with your help,” Ives said.