When Mildred called Fishline recently, it took all of her courage. In her 87 years in Poulsbo, she had hadn't ever asked for help. Never rich but always able to make it, Mildred and her husband worked hard while raising their three children. In retirement, they had enough to cover the bills and put a littleaside. But Mildred's husband passed away a couple of years ago,making it harder for her to pay for the house, the rising bills, prescriptions and food. Little by little, she dipped into her savings to pay the bills. She didn't tell her children because, as she put it, "They already have so much on their minds, I didn't want to worry them." By the time she came to Fishline, her savings were gone and her phone, a lifeline for a homebound senior, was about to be disconnected. After learning about the ways we could help, she slept well that night, the first night in weeks.
Jim is another first-time recipient of food bank services. He had left his job and his home to come care for his terminally-ill mother. Not able to find work after a long job search, he was at the end of his resources. We were able to help him with veterinary care, clothes, gasoline, job referrals, a free cell phone and even told him about a program where he can volunteer in exchange for free dental services. He hoped that this first visitto Fishline would be his last and when he returned, it would be to give back.
Mildred and Jim are but two examples of the changing face of need in North Kitsap. No longer are food bank clients just those living on the margins of society, experiencing poverty because of poor choices, lack of work ethic or addiction issues. Today's Fishline clients might be recently unemployed, often from high-paying and skilled jobs, trying hard to find work in a fiercely competitive climate. Others are working, sometimes 2 or 3 jobs, but finding it still isn't enough. Examples abound of normal, everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances that test their resilience and their mettle. When they finally convince themselves to come to Fishline, imagine their relief when they are greeted like old friends, without a hint of pity or judgment.
Around 30% of new visitors to Fishline are coming to a food bank for the first time in their lives. Our initial meetings are often emotional , as anxious clients experience the wonderful gift of a listening, caring ear. Our clients are like you and me, trying to handle life's turbulence with grace and independence, reluctant to ask for help yet knowing that, this time, they just can't handle it alone.
Because of you, Fishline is able to help good people like Mildred and Jim. Through your contributions of concern, donations and time, you are building a stronger community, one in which all have the hope for a better day.
Mary Nader, Executive Director
North Kitsap Fishline