Leaders of the Poulsbo Fire Community Assistance, Referral, and Education Service (CARES) team were to be honored by the Seattle Mariners as part of the team’s Hometown Hero initiative recognizing first responders and front-line workers.
Firefighter Dave Mussleman and Community Support specialist Dr. Renee Miller have been recognized by the M’s for their work with CARES, which aids folks throughout North Kitsap who struggle with mental and behavioral health issues, cognitive decline and addiction.
Mussleman was to be honored Aug. 28 and Miller Aug. 29.
Musselman said: “I’m feeling like the 2021 CARES team is like the 2021 Mariners: we face a lot of challenges but we’re in it to win it.”
The CARES program was implemented in early 2021.
“While on emergency scenes, it is great to see our police officers and firefighters routinely consider if a community member might benefit from the CARES team,” Poulsbo Fire deputy chief Jeff Russel said. “Referrals from our first responders to CARES are common now as our crews see the benefits of the program. Even under pandemic conditions and restrictions, the CARES team service level has not been negatively impacted.”
“Meeting people in crisis where they are and helping them get their feet back under them has truly been an honor,” Miller said. “Hearing from our community members that they are thankful when we show up at the right time with the right help tells me that we are doing the right work.”
Hometown Heroes is a season-long tribute to the first responders, health care professionals, service industry workers and others on the front lines who have helped their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson voiced her pride as well.
“I am so proud of Dave and Renee and the work they do to help our residents,” Erickson said. “The team gets to know people who are isolated, vulnerable, and lack access to the care that they need. We’ve seen, in the first eight months of the program, that their supportive, proactive approach makes a real difference in people’s lives, especially when COVID has forced other providers to reduce their services.”
Kitsap County Commissioners recently granted the city of Poulsbo over $300,000 to continue the program.