KINGSTON — When Lorraine Doleman of Kingston found herself taking in two nephews and two grandchildren, she knew she needed help. And she knew just where to go.
She reached out to ShareNet.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have made it,” she said. “Because of you, we are living again.”
Doleman has just finished her CNA course and has a bright future knowing she’ll be able to get a job. But there were dark days a few years ago when her family grew and she did not have the resources to feed them all. ShareNet, using funds from the Poulsbo Lions Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund, was there to help.
“You (ShareNet) are truly a huge blessing to this community,” she wrote in a letter to ShareNet. “You helped me even on days when the food bank was closed and my cupboards and freezer were bare.”
Doleman recalls growing up in a family that taught her the power of helping others. She and her father volunteered at the food bank in San Jose, California.
“There was also this time when we bought hot cocoa for a homeless woman who was not allowed to enter a nearby fast-food restaurant,” Doleman said.
Back then, she never thought she might someday be the one in need. But when that happened, ShareNet was there.
“Your wonderful employees and volunteers showed me true love and compassion,” she said. “I will make sure to pay it forward.”
ShareNet Executive Director Mark Ince said everyone is subject to the cycle of life and sometimes when there’s a downturn in that cycle, they need help.
“Everyone who has lived long enough knows life is one of cycles, both bad and good,” he said. “And some folks don’t have, or never had, the resources to support themselves through something like a job loss, medical crisis, or sudden increase in household members.”
ShareNet’s mission is to strengthen opportunities for better lives, he said.
“That is accomplished by being there when individuals and families have times of crisis. The goal is to reduce the experiences of adverse childhood poverty. We do this through our sponsorship of school programs including backpacks, family engagement nights, and continuing eduction for parents.”
ShareNet is much more than a food bank, Ince said. It provides carefully screened financial assistance for area residents in crises, matching funds where they can do the most good to keep families fed, warm, and housed when possible. It also sponsors seasonal events like a Back to School supplies drive, and Thanksgiving giveaway. Transportation, goods and shower vouchers for those without a home are among other things the nonprofit does.
In a recent United Way national study, 10 states including — Washington, Oregon, and Idaho — were assessed to see how many families are living at the poverty line. The acronym, ALICE, describes families that are “Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed.” Statistics reflecting on local ALICE families showed a surprising local need.
According to ShareNet, 23 percent of Kingston households are ALICE households. In the remaining towns that comprise the ShareNet service area, Hansville is at 16 percent, Indianola is at 19 percent, and Port Gamble is at 29 percent. Poulsbo and Suquamish are both at 25 percent.
Ince said the number needing help is increasing, particularly in the demographics of elderly, children, and disabled, and homeless.
“We need additional support for our backpack program Food to Grow On or F2GO,” Ince said. “That program alone costs over $30,000 annually to operate. And we always need more volunteers and more financial support.”
The program helps feed students in local schools.
ShareNet has about 70 active volunteers, and last year served more than 16,000 individuals. He estimated that they gave out more than 250,000 pounds of food.
ShareNet’s mission is “to fight hunger in North Kitsap in a manner that respects the dignity of those we serve.”
The nonprofit also has a thrift store “that takes pride in the items we sell for an extremely low price,” Ince said.
ShareNet is located at 26061 United Road NE, Suite A. Kingston; phone: 360-297-2266. Food bank hours are Tuesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; thrift store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
About the fund
This year, the Poulsbo Lions Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund’s goal is $35,000, of which every penny will go to help those in need.
The funds are administered by Fishline, St. Vincent de Paul, ShareNet, and Coffee Oasis to provide food, emergency shelter and emergency financial assistance to North Kitsap residents in need. There is no overhead. Every penny helps neighbors put food on tables, keep the lights and heat on, keep a roof over their heads, and get to medical appointments and work.
The fund was established in 1942 by Frank and Mabel Raab. Frank served as a Poulsbo City Council member from 1946 to 1960, and as mayor from 1960-69. The fund was a way for local residents to help neighbors in need during the year.
Originally, the Lions Club established the protocol and administered the fund. But when bookkeeping became overwhelming, they passed off the administration of the fund to three local nonprofits.
Donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be mailed to Bellringer Fund, P.O. Box 1244, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Donations are also accepted at the North Kitsap Herald, 19351 8th Ave. NE, in Poulsbo. Donations are listed each week in the Herald and on KitsapDailyNews.com.
This week’s contributors:
Brian and Lindy Henshaw: $555. “Come on North Kitsap, let’s beat $30K!”
From a member of the Verksted Gallery: $250, in memory of Mary Heffner.
Stockton and Janice Forest: $200.
Dorothy M. Ridgeway: $100.
Darryl and Carole Milton: $500, in memory of Pat Milton, Bruce Hedderly-Smith and Julie Pietz.
Anonymous: $500. “Let the bells ring joyfully for you and me! Merry Christmas.”
Bernard Wittman and Stefanie Prestek: $100.
Richard E. Dorrell: $250.
Laurie and Jeffrey Tolman: $50. “Thank you for helping kids — Kinzie Tolman, Miller Tolman, and Zachary Tolman.”
Lynn M. Howat: $100. “Happy Holidays.”
Week’s total: $2,605
To-date total: $5,205