Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Letter to Our Volunteers

Dear Volunteers,

As we prepare to close out another eventful year at Fishline and Second Season, we look back with wonder and appreciation for all the miracles that it are so easy to take for granted. Every day, our food bank and thrift store are graced with donations large and small, each one coming with a message that our community joins us in our mission. Because of the scores of volunteers who work tirelessly and without complaint, we turn these donations into sustenance and life-giving security for the many neighbors who are humble enough to ask for our help. Sometimes, we are a port in a temporary storm, other times making it possible for a non-living wage to be enough, but always we love and care for our most vulnerable with respect and hope.

These are not easy jobs -- this work can deplete you, and it can even make you wonder if we will ever see a time when the need is not so great. But we are undaunted…we return, time and again, knowing that what we do matters. Ask any of our clients, and they will tell you. It is unimaginable to consider how our community would fare were it not for what we do. Hunger and homelessness are always real threats, and it is by our continued vigilance that we keep them at bay. Somehow, as the need grows and our buildings seem to shrink, we make it work…we remain civil, we are kind and helpful toward one another, we cleverly stretch our resources to benefit all.

2014 already looks to be a very special year in the history of Fishline. We will open up the space in our food facility, thereby opening up possibilities to help in ways we could never have considered in the past. We will learn more about the dynamics of helping and what people need most when they encounter a crisis. And we will count our blessings once again because we will do this all together.

On behalf of Fishline’s Board of Directors, its ever-grateful clients and the community you serve, I thank you for your devotion, your energy, your ideas and your inspiration. May you and yours experience the peace and tranquility of these holidays, knowing that our community is stronger because of you.

Executive Director,
North Kitsap Fishline

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fishline Celebrates December's Community Partner: Windermere Real Estate

Windermere Realty has three local offices -- one in Poulsbo, Kingston, and Silverdale.  Each of these offices has made a commitment to serve their local community, a kind of unspoken corporate responsibility that makes them a perfect example of what being a community partner is all about. 

For several years now Windermere Real Estate has helped organize the Forest Hills Rock neighborhood food drive.  This annual food drive, which typically tops itself every year, kicks off the holiday food drive season.  This year the Windermere offices decided to also have a little friendly competition between their Kingston, Poulsbo, and Silverdale offices -- with the local food banks benefiting. Over 4300 lbs of food has been collected since just a little bit before Thanksgiving, with 2500 lbs of that going to Fishline.

During the week of Thanksgiving, Windermere delivered 50 turkeys to Fishline (and another 100 to food banks in Kingston and Silverdale!).  In lieu of a Christmas party this year, the employees of the Poulsbo office decided to donate the money that would have been spent on their festive annual get together to several important organizations, including Fishline.  Employees of Windermere happily delivered a check for $1500 right after Thanksgiving. 

Mike Pitts, one of the owners of Windermere, explains in the interview above, how everyone in the office jumps at the opportunity to be involved in the community.  "People feel good about working with Fishline...they'll do what they say they're going to do.”  And we feel good about businesses like Windermere!

In addition to their nonstop work during the holidays, the Windermere Foundation has helped keep families in their homes through grants and other funding awarded to Fishline. Thank you to all the Windermere offices for all that you do -- your owners, your realtors, and your staff are much appreciated by all in the North Kitsap community! 

Windermere Poulsbo is located at 18570 Hwy 305 in Poulsbo.  You can visit their website here and their Facebook page here

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Poulsbo Couple Experiments with Life on a Food Stamp Budget (Kitsap Sun)

Susan Herriott and her husband, Jon, lived on a food-stamp budget for the month of November to understand what it is like for clients at the North Kitsap Fishline, where they volunteer. It took a month of hoarding and giving up favorite foods to have enough to serve Thanksgiving dinner for 11, but they managed to do it. (MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)

POULSBO — The Herriott Thanksgiving table did not bear any markings of poverty.

Nothing on the table was a handout, but for the month of November Susan Herriott and her husband, Jon, lived as if everything they ate was.

The Herriotts volunteer at North Kitsap Fishline, getting up early to help gather donated groceries from the four big local grocery stores and helping clients.

Susan Herriott wondered what it would be like to rely on the groceries Fishline provides and food stamp income. So in November, she and Jon committed to do it for a month. She documented her experiences in a blog called “Loaves and the Fishline.”

“I did it because I didn’t understand the decisions people were making when they came to the food bank.” Herriott said. “I see them buy what I think is strange stuff.”

She also noticed that many of the organization’s clients were older, past retirement age — much like the Herriotts.

She didn’t get any of her groceries from the food bank itself, but she made regular visits to Fishline’s Third Avenue store and made a list of what she would get if she were a client. Then she went to a grocery store to buy it. What she wouldn’t have received from Fishline, she could buy with $49 a week she and her husband would have qualified for in food stamps, were they living only on their Social Security income.

It was a stretch to not open the Herriott kitchen pantry, which is evidence of an experienced long-term menu planner. But Herriott essentially closed the doors, planned what she could and experienced living with the mystery of what’s available at the food bank day to day.

To read more Susan Herriott blogged about her month-long experiment living on a food-stamp budget. The blog, called “Loaves and the Fishline” is located here.

In November she bought supplies that come in a monthly “emergency box,” or “Ebox,” distributed by the food bank to its clients once per month. Each box contains enough food for balanced meals for three days, according to Fishline’s website. Canned chili and tuna are examples of the contents.

She also bought the goods that come in the federal government’s mystery “commodities bag.” It’s a mystery because the supplies are based on whatever is overstocked, incorrectly packaged or otherwise unsellable. It’s all good food, but there’s no predicting from one month to the next what will be in it, said Mary Nader, North Kitsap Fishline, Executive Director.  Commodities are provided for distribution from a federal government program and are not overstocked, incorrectly packaged or unsellable items. 

The third part of the Fishline program is the organization’s store. Clients are allocated a certain number of “Fish bucks,” depending on family size, to purchase items from the store.
Thanks to local grocery donations from Poulsbo’s four major grocers, Fishline can provide fresh produce, frozen goods, yogurt and mostly free bread.

During the month of the experiment the Herriotts ate less meat and little fish. They experienced the panic of lost food when a dish of spaghetti slipped off the table, wasting some of their precious provisions.

They learned firsthand the luxury of coffee.

Susan managed to plan for a Thanksgiving feast for 11, complete with a turkey and all the sides, by doing without some favorites and hoarding items like cranberries early in the month.

One of the biggest realizations during the experiment was how much time it took to live so tuned into her food budget.

“I usually shop one day a week and go to Costco once a month or once every two months,” she wrote on her blog on Nov. 9. “I find that I am going to the grocery store two or three times a week. I can’t get enough money together at one time to get ahead. Since the food bank limits the amount of some things, I have to go several times a week in order to get enough for the week. I understand why there are limits. The food bank never knows what or how much of a single item they will have at a time and they don’t know how many people will show up in a day. I think they do a good job but it does make it difficult.”

Some of the work included making granola instead of buying it, saving about $9 for three pounds. One day a neighbor brought jars of jam and banana bread as thanks for some compost the Herriotts had shared. Though the neighbor has been doing it for nine years, it took on added meaning during the experiment, Herriott said.

“Today the gift brought me to tears,” she wrote on her blog. “The banana bread is great but what really touched me was the jam. I am out, and my husband almost always has toast and jam as part of his breakfast. I wasn’t sure when I could afford more since I have spent all but $6.00 of my food stamp budget this week. I was surprised at my depth of feeling. We aren’t starving by any means. I have to think a little harder about what we eat and work a little harder to prepare it, but the worry about having enough is new to me.”

The time it takes to provide meals based on food bank donations was a “full-time job,” Herriott said.

“I don’t know how you do this and look for work,” she said.

Carole Herriott, daughter to the Poulsbo couple, was one of those on hand for Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner. For some time a few years back, she relied on food banks and bargain shopping.

“The greatest invention ever was the Grocery Outlet,” she said.

Making it easier for her were healthy children. Carole Herriott said they ate a lot but didn’t have special diet problems.

“Only rich people have food allergies,” she said.

Susan Herriott said she knows she is lucky there were no huge surprises during the month and also that she didn’t do this experience in February, when food pantries typically run low on supplies.

Nader said donations from grocery stores and others slow down during the early part of the year. Food gets more expensive for grocery stores to order, so the daily donations get thinner, something Fishline is preparing for now by planning targeted food drives. Our targeted food drive campaign is called Hunger Heroes, which you can read more about here.

Before November ended, Herriott was planning a steak dinner for the first day back to regular menus. It’s a luxury she counts among many. The Herriotts planned well for retirement and have suffered few setbacks or health issues.

She has a lot of respect for those forced to rely on the food banks.

“I don’t know how you do it,” she said.
This article was originally posted on Kitsap Sun's website and can read with a paid subscription HERE.  It is also on the front page of today's printed edition of Kitsap Sun (December 1, 2013). The italicized text in gray are our corrections to the article.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NK Fishline Welcomes Our New Floor Manager: Sean Wescott

Being raised with a family that was active in church and community events, I grew up in a culture of volunteering.  From my youngest days as a cub scout and in the youth group of my church I have been taking part in helping out anyway that I could.  My volunteer ‘career’ began as a teenager when my mother opened an office for Habitat for Humanity in our community.  I helped her prepare the space that was to be the office, and once we were functional I took part as a volunteer.  I was the coordinator making endless phone calls to solicit help for projects, and I also made the lunches for the work crews.  When my Pastor stepped down from the Board of Directors two years later, he tapped me as his replacement.  So from a young age I had the privilege of working closely with community leaders as a Board Member and the Volunteer Liaison for the University.  I have also worked for Make-a-Wish Foundation, the American Heart Association, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Progressive Animal Welfare Society, providing data entry and other office support such as setting up and maintaining electronic and hard copy filing systems.  It was all very rewarding work. 

At the Court of Honor for my Eagle Scout award they made it clear that upon receiving this honor I was a ‘marked man’, with a moral imperative help others at all times.  That directive has led me on all kinds of crazy adventures that if ever you want to talk story I am happy to share.  My family also has ministers on both sides of my bloodline, so it is no great surprise that a couple of years ago I began to get the calling from God myself.  In recent times I have been working on my own ministering to and providing help for those in need.  In fact, I was searching for a place to focus my time working to help the disenfranchised of our society, and so I am very happy to have joined the team here a Fishline, since that is exactly what I get to do.  Other pet projects of mine are Women’s rights and the Church of Sacred Motherhood, which is a new church based on the internet.  When I am not doing anything else, I like to work on music, cook, write, go for hikes in our gorgeous woods, and take road trips. 

I am so happy that I am here now working with all of you on this momentous project.  The work you do here is changing the world, pouring out healing to so many ravaged by the side effects of our tattered economy and a world full of fear.  There are so many volunteers at Fishline that it warms my heart to see you all, and to watch what a well-oiled machine you have in place.  With so many working so hard for one cause, it is hard to imagine any kind of limitations to what we can accomplish together.  Thank you all for making me feel at home with your pleasant demeanor and upbeat attitude.  I want you to know that you are each one an inspiration, and I look forward to working with you all as we take North Kitsap Fishline to the next level of growth – and beyond!

Sean Wescott
Floor Manager, NK Fishline

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fishline is in Need of Contractors! Can You Help?

We are mere days away from ownership of our new facility – while we are handling the paperwork, there is concurrent effort underway to design and schedule work needed to make the building usable for our food bank.  We have a general contractor, but every bit of donated time, expertise or materials we can invite will help our costs go down.  But we also expect to pay for some of the work, so if you know of professionals who can offer their services for reduced cost, please let us know of them as well.

So, here’s what we need:

Plumbing Contractor – the highest priority.  We need to submit plumbing plans to the City as soon as we are able.  If you know of a contractor, please pass this information to us by Monday.

Electrical Contractor – also important but not an urgent timeline.  We would like your recommendations as soon as possible, but will accept them as late as next Friday.

Construction Materials – Sinks, faucets, wood, drywall, anything like this would help keep our costs down.

Sweat Equity – Do you want to help remove market carpet and finish the floors?  Does it sound like fun to demolish the side building we don’t need anymore?  Want to help us move?  Would you like to help organize the move? Let us know and we can include you on our project teams.

Email us with questions or if you need clarification.  Thank you for your recommendations and for your help.  This is a historic moment for Fishline, and I’m so glad we are all a part of it.

Mary Nader, 

Executive Director

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Child Program

The Christmas Child program allows parents to create a personal wish list of gifts that would bring the most joy to their children during the holiday season.  The gift tag process allows parents (or children) to list three wants and three needs specific to that child's interests, hobbies, and abilitites. An individual or group may sponsor this child by purchasing at least three items from the child's list. The wish lists are then distributed via "Tag Trees" at area businesses. Sponsors choose a tag, purchase the items, place them in one big bag, ATTACH THE TAG, and return the marked bag to the business. 
The following businesses have agreed to host "Tag Trees" in 2013:
Liberty Bay Books
North Kitsap Herald
Modern Dentistry
Dahlquist Fine Jewelry
Sugar and Spice Tea Shop
Bank of America
First Security Bank
Poulsbo Athletic Club
Sport Haus
Hostmark Apts
Peninsula Paint
Crimson Cove Smoked Specialties
North Point Church
Marina Market Poulsbo
First Lutheran Church
American Rose Bridal
Animal Emergency and Trauma Center
Jak’s CafĂ©
Poulsbo Yacht Club
Key Bank
La Bella Vita Salon
Peninsula Credit Union
Toy Drives are currently being held at the following locations:
Vinland Elementary School
St Olaf’s Church
Poulsbo City Hall
Poulsbo Lions Club
Enjoy the following discounts with your toy donation:
Mike’s Car Wash is giving $2 off a gold wash with a toy donation and a free wash (any level) with a $50 or more cash or check donation.
Program Guidelines:
  • Businesses or others agree to host a gift tag tree by mid November.

  • Gift tag trees need to be provided by businesses and be in place by the last week in November to allow people to shop on Black Friday.

  • Fishline will supply coded gift tags to each site prior to set up date and replenish as needed

  • Sponsors will choose a gift tag and go shopping.

  • Purchased items are returned to the business.  Gifts should be UNWRAPPED in ONE BAG with the TAG ATTACHED to the bag

  • Gifts will be picked up from tag tree sites by Christmas Child Organizers if needed

  • If you are participating as a sponsor in the Christmas Child Program in 2013, all gifts are due back to the tag tree site no later than December 7th.

Please contact our Christmas Child organizers Jeannie Benton and Sue Paskell by email at (or call Raelenea Rodriguez at (360) 779-5190).  We are happy to answer any questions you might have about the Christmas Child Program. 
We are still accepting anonymous donations of new toys and are happy to supply you with a box.  Toy drives are equally appreciated.  These toys will be used for children who have not been sponsored.  This program is not in any way related to "Operation" Christmas Child.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Building a Home Where Hunger Has No Place

Much conversation has been going on recently about the cut backs in SNAP benefits, commonly called food stamps. Effective the first of this month, 1184 households in Poulsbo were affected by these changes. Hearing concerns expressed on both sides of this issue and reading the many commentaries, one realizes that there continues to be some ambiguity about who is food insecure in our country and how they became so.

Being on the front line of our region's war on hunger, Fishline witnesses the real stories and lives that are usually talked about in generalizations when broaching this topic. We see the overwhelming reluctance that most new clients feel when they first come to Fishline. When new clients enter into our front market, a grocery-store like environment, we see their fears melt away, replaced with obvious relief that shows all over their faces. Volunteers tell each other about the extraordinary expressions of gratitude they witness, some so heartfelt that it can't help but change you. Just last week, a client began to cry when thanking the checkout volunteer for the meat that is rarely available in our front market.

These are reactions one cannot fake - they happen unexpectedly, perhaps the result of a long time of trying to be strong and not be afraid. The reality that most working poor families face is one of continuous pressure. Days are spent thinking of ways to make a meager income keep up with the climbing cost of living. Nights are spent tossing and turning because the potential for homelessness and hunger is real. For those looking for work, every unanswered job application or interview that doesn't end with an offer just exacerbates the sinking depression that seems most alive and well at 3 am.

When a little source of relief, such as meat available in the front market, comes your way, you feel a little hope that things might work out after all. But when you get home, the pile of bills await you, and the worry begins again.

One of our volunteers took on an intriguing and courageous experiment because of the compassion she feels for the clients she sees every day. She and her husband would decide to live the entire month of November on a budget they'd receive were they to apply for food stamps, augmented by shopping at Fishline. She is blogging about what she learns while walking in the shoes of our clients. Already in the first week, she finds herself having to give up some ofher favorite items, like coffee and beef, and trying every low-cost recipe she can to stretch their budget. She spends hours each day looking for the lowest cost items and trying to assemble meals that are not filled with empty, cheap carbs and sweets. What she has experienced will remind you that no one would choose this if they had other options.

For her, this struggle will soon be left behind. She will feel the relief that comes when she resumes her normal life of shopping at the Farmer's Market and Central with a renewed appreciation for the hardships of our clients. We pray that, for the thousands of neighbors who live in poverty, they can someday feel that same relief.

Until then, it will fall upon providers like Fishline to fill the gap that results from the cut backs like those affecting SNAP. Our lines will grow longer, and we will try to feed many more people more often. October was our busiest month on record, and the holidays will likely see unprecedented numbers of families needing our help. We ask that you donate generously to Fishline. Our community must rally if it is to remain a home where hunger has no place.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fishline Celebrates November's Community Partner: Liberty Bay Auto

When entering town from Finn Hill, it's hard to miss Liberty Bay Auto.  Sitting on the right side, it's cheery sign always shares great messages that make everyone smile.  This past few weeks they used their sign space to capture the attention of all those passing to invite others to join them in their Hunger Heroes Mission to "Fill the Truck!"  This carefully planned out food drive kicked off our holiday food collection efforts and we couldn't be more thankful for the result.

For two weeks Liberty Bay Auto not only committed their coveted and high profile sign space, they set up a great display in their showroom, held an after-hours event with Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce, advertised for Fishline on their leaderboard on North Kitsap Herald's website, and as if that wasn't enough -- they matched all of the food donations that filled their truck, pound for pound! Total delivered to Fishline:  965 lbs!

Thank you Liberty Bay for all your phenomenal efforts as a Hunger Hero! By utilizing all the resources available to you to publicize and promote your food drive event, you've set the bar for our Hunger Hero campaign and we have chosen you as NK Fishline's Community Partner of the Month!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

This MONTH'S Most Needed Items: Holiday Foods!

We receive many requests all year round -- "what do you need the most at Fishline?"  During this time period, the answer is:  Holiday Food Items! Please use the following list when shopping for items to donate to those in need in our community! Turkeys and hams can be dropped off at Fishline; all other non-perishable items can be dropped off at a number of locations, including Albertson's and Central Market, or any of the ongoing food drives in our community. Click here to visit our calendar and to see where those are happening near you!

Turkeys and Hams 
Chicken Broth 
Cranberry Sauce 
Canned Yams/Sweet Potatoes 
Canned Fruits 
Canned Vegetables 
Stuffing Mix 
Peanut Butter
Progresso/Hearty Soups 
Boxed Meals
Vegetable Oil 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fishline Celebrates October's Community Partner: Poulsbo Farmers Market

Everyone enjoys the hustle and bustle of a good farmer's market.  The people, the vendors, the ready to eat food on site are just a few of the things that make the Poulsbo Farmers Market so special.  The food is fresh, local, and sustainably grown and "the Poulsbo Farmers Market is without a doubt home to some of the best food in Kitsap County." 

For years the vendors at the farmer's market have donated fresh fruits and vegetables to Fishline.  This past summer alone, the food bank received 4,473 lbs of food.  These donations are distributed in our front market and our much appreciated by our clients.  In some cases, these are the healthiest foods that they have access to. 

Monday mornings offer a wonderful array of fresh and vegetables during the summer thanks, in part, to the efforts made by two Fishline volunteers, Tricia and James Beene.  They visit the Market twice on Saturdays, at the start to set up a Fishline donation table and at the end, to pick up the donated produce from each participating vendor.  They return to the food bank to package and label all donations, readying them for the Monday morning client visits.  They do this hard work each Saturday because of their personal belief that all should have access to farm-fresh, organic produce even if they can't always afford it. 

This past weekend, on October 6th, Poulsbo Farmer's Market took their relationship with North Kitsap Fishline a step further, and included the food bank in their annual Harvest Dinner Fundraiser, committing half of the funds raised to our mission to serve those in need in North Kitsap. "We believe that working together with Fishline strengthens our community and helps those that our organizations serve.  By coming together, our organizations will provide an example to there that the community benefits from various parts working together," says Paul Strid, President of Poulsbo Farmers Market. 
 The three course dinner was hosted at Mor Mor Bistro and included dishes prepared with care by their chefs Stephen Moreton and John Michael Nesby, who is also the owner.  The dishes included an Agrodolce Harvest Salad, made with local field lettuce and goat cheese from The Hansville Creamery (who donated the cheese for the Harvest Dinner); an Earth and Ocean combo with local salmon and beef, and a delicious corn, pork, onion, potato and sweet pepper succotash; and finally an Apple Crumb Cake from Borrowed Kitchen Bakery with Viking Feast Salted Caramel Ice Cream. 

During the evening, Mor Mor's owner, John, moderated an auction, also benefiting the two organizations.  The items for bid/purchase included the original print of this year's Poulsbo Farmers Market commemorative poster. 

Thank you to Poulsbo Farmer's Market for your commitment to the North Kitsap community and to Fishline.  A special thanks to Brian Simmons, the Market Manager, Kat Cummings, the Market Assistant, Board President Paula Strid, and all the board members.  We appreciate all that you do! 

The Poulsbo Farmers Market is open every Saturday until December 21st, from 9am to 1pm and is located at the Poulsbo Village Medical Center on the corner of 7th and Iverson.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You're Invited to the Poulsbo Farmer's Market Harvest Dinner!

On Sunday, October 6th at 5 pm, the Poulsbo Farmer’s Market will have its annual Harvest Dinner at MorMor in Poulsbo. This is a beautiful, fresh 3-course dinner made with local ingredients and prepared by Chef John Nesby of MorMor. There will also be a silent and live auction with some delightful offerings. We’re looking forward to this annual celebration!

This year, the Farmer’s Market has decided to split its proceeds with Fishline, an extraordinary gesture and a real help to us. If you are interested in attending, the tickets are $75 and can be purchased through Fishline. Please email me at if you want us to reserve a spot for you or friends and family.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fishline's School Supply Program: A Community Project From Start to Finish

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for families.  New classes, old friends, many kids are very eager to return to school.  One of the important rituals during this time is school shopping. This would include shopping for clothes, shoes, and school supplies.  For a family in need, this inspiring time of year can be very stressful.

In place for over 9 years, the North Kitsap Fishline School Supply Program has worked with families to ease this stress.  Kathy Smith, the coordinator of the program, works diligently with local churches and businesses to ensure it's success.  

Mid-summer, every year, Kathy recruits volunteers from the community, not just the seasoned volunteers from Fishline, but others as well.  She reaches out to local businesses and churches -- while many step up on their own.  This event is one that many organizations have on their calendar annually.  These groups then have school supply drives at their business locations or coordinate events with their parishes to stock up their share of donations. 

At the end of the school supply drive, the items are inventoried, sorted, and packed based on grade level and supply requirement lists from the schools.  Children and teenage volunteers are asked to pack the backpacks for their peers, an experience that many of them learn a lot from.  It's important that young people in the community understand that people in need are not only in need of food, but every day things that might be taken for granted. 

In 2012, our program served 251 students in the North Kitsap School District, grades K through 12.  This year, we served 274 students.  Families in need register their children at the food bank during the same period of time that we are collecting supplies.  Many of the older kids who need supplies come in and register themselves. Participants can expect to receive standard school supplies, such as binders, paper, pencils, and pens or everything on the pre-printed lists provided by the schools. These are all packed neatly in sturdy backpacks, purchased with monies generously donated by the community.  This year, the program received approximately $5795 in in-kind donations.

Kathy Smith, NK Fishline School Supply Drive Coordinator

Each family is assigned a time to come and pick up their backpacks.  The time slots are spaced out to be discreet, and to give the students time to choose extra items from our bin of miscellaneous supplies that have been collected.  It's not exactly school shopping, but the kids are excited to receive the items and parents are relieved and grateful.  It's this exchange that makes the program well worth the 120+ hours of volunteer time!

After registered families collect their backpacks, the extra supplies and packed bags are distributed to the local schools, for financially challenged kids that may come in during the school year. If these run out at the schools, parents can also come to the food bank and request help.  Items in storage help to meet these needs all year long. The schools are also aware that they can contact Kathy if they have families come in and need help with supplies.

A huge thanks to Kathy Smith for all her very hard work.  As coordinator of this much needed program, she commits many hours of volunteer time towards this community supported project and we are so grateful for her efforts. Read her letter of thanks to the North Kitsap community here.

To learn more about our school supply program or to contribute to these and other programs, please visit our webpage at

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fishline Celebrates September's Community Partner: Marina Market

Marina Market has long been a supporter of Fishline.  Located in downtown Poulsbo, the speciality store accepts donations all year round.  Andrea Rowe, the owner of Marina Market has served on Fishline’s Board of Directors, and is always willing to support our endeavors.


In it’s second year, the Poulsbo Brew Crawl, sponsored by Marina Market -- raised over $3200!  This money will be dedicated to Food for Thought, our weekend meal program for children in need.  This fun event brought together three Poulsbo breweries:  Slippery Pig, Sound Brewery, and Valholl Brewing, and invited customers to fill their Brewery Passports with stamps that earned Fishline money with each purchase.  The event culminated with a BBQ at Fishline on Sunday, August 25th -- where people were could eat, drink, and take tours of the food bank. 

Andrea shares her motivation with us on her passion for Fishline, "I grew up in and around Washington D.C.. As a child Activist, I saw then what I still believe today- you cannot strive for Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness without Life.  In this case Life being as simple as a daily meal.

Most of the people in these United States came here looking for a new and better lives for their families.  I don't believe anyone came here to be hungry or homeless, they came looking for dignity.  Dignity is what Fishline gives to our neighbors, and that is why I love everything about it and its care giving people."

Many thanks to Andrea and to Marina Market, our Community Partner for the month of September.  We love your creativity when putting the “FUN” into “fundraising” and are so grateful to have neighbors like you!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter from the Director: Hope & Optimism During Trying Times

It almost seemed too incredible, too tragic to be real. As we sat with Jake and Sue while they told their story through their tears, we could only try to imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes.  It started with a sick dog, so sick that the vet couldn't save him.  Then the kids became ill, all three of them with breathing problems and a rash.  Now, the medical and vet bills were piling up and so was the worry.  When the dark force that was taking over their home was revealed, a hidden mold problem that had turned toxic, this young family had no choice but to move immediately.  But all the time off he needed to take to handle the crises in his family had cost Jake his job, adding to a Job-like set of conditions that seemed nearly insurmountable.

As our team discussed this impossible set of circumstances, we wondered who among us could weather such a series of blows without needing help. This young family, one day happy and healthy, was thrown a set of curve balls that no one should have to face alone.  It would take all of our team, combining our resources and reaching out to our partners, to stabilize this family and keep them from landing into a spot that would take years from which to recover.  Through our combined efforts, which includes working with family and friends, we could offer help with rent, deposit, medical bills, moving costs and referrals for legal aid.

After hearing so many stories such as Jake and Sue's, and walking alongside hundreds of neighbors as they face the biggest challenges of their lives, we have come to understand something extraordinary.  People are amazing.  Given every reason to throw up their hands, lose hope and stop trying, these everyday heroes will not give up. They may have a moment when they get scared, they worry about the future, even shed some tears, but it doesn't last long.

Before the despair has a chance to set in, the resourceful, determined fighter comes out.  The gloves go on, they stand a little straighter and then pull something from deep inside that perhaps surprises even them.  A plan gets built, options are identified, favors asked and humbly received and the crisis is handled.  To watch and be a small part of this evolution is a privilege.

If you ask Jake and Sue, they would never consider themselves courageous.  They are only doing what they must to keep their family safe and intact.  It is easy to take for granted the resilience of which we are capable, the inherent hopefulness that is implied when we keep trying, keep getting up every day ready to start anew.  It goes almost unnoticed, the bravery and tenacity that is needed as a part of our normal lives.  But we should notice it.  Because it is perhaps the most important result of these trying times, the thing that lingers long after life is stabilized again.  We realize we are bigger, we are stronger than any problem - something we would never know any other way.

Jake and Sue's family were staying in her sister's barn when we first learned of their situation.  The warm summer nights made this is a viable temporary alternative.  As they got ready to go to bed one night, one of their children, trying to console his parents, said  "Things will get better, I know they will.  But I don't mind living here at all."  This optimism in the midst of difficulty is a sign of promise and proof that another hero lives amongst us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hunger Heroes: Our Friends at Hot Shots Java!

If you have been to Hot Shots Java in Poulsbo, then you have no doubt noticed the basket of goldfish crackers on the countertop while waiting for your drink. This creative fundraising project, which started with their Fishbowl for Fishline, has evolved into a year long endeavor for the local business.

Leanne Musgrove, the owner of Hot Shots Java, encourages her entire team to get involved with the packing and selling of the goldfish crackers. At a $1 a bag, it's a great snack for all their customers, young and old alike. This week Leanne awarded Executive Director Mary Nader with a check for $500, an amount that had been collected for Fishline from the Fishbowl and goldfish cracker sales alone. This check will go towards Fishline's school supply drive and Food for Thought program, two very important programs for families in need during this time of year.

Special thanks to Hot Shots Java for this fun fundraiser they have created for Fishline. Be sure to join them starting this Friday and throughout the school year for their "Study Buddy" program: Buy One Drink, Receive the 2nd for 50% off when you come in with your books to do homework and study!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Rental Home Needed!

For a family trying to stay together and weather economic difficulties, a stable, safe home is a key to a promising future.  In our area, low-cost housing is in short supply, especially for families, so a local church has decided to rent a house and offer this living space to a screened, eligible local family at no charge to them.  

St. Olaf's Catholic Church has learned the house they have been renting will soon be sold, so they are asking your help in locating a local home that can be rented for a reasonable cost.  If you know of a home or duplex that can be rented for less than $900 per month and is located in Suquamish or Poulsbo, please contact Fishline at  A tax-deductible donation of a percentage of the rent is available for those who would wish it. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Letter from the Director: Nurturing Our Children to Help Others, A Worthy Investment

I received a call recently from the mother of a very special 6-year-old girl.  This child had decided that she wanted to create packs of needed items for homeless people, and so her mom called on her behalf.  When I mentioned she could collect and donate some of the items for us to pack and distribute, she said it was very important to her daughter that she assemble the packs herself.  I hung up the phone, wondering how such mature benevolence could come from a child so young.

Another group of kids had a lemonade stand this summer and decided that they should donate their hard-earned $14 to help Fishline.  Only one child held back a little, keeping a dollar for himself because it was just too hard to see it all go.  We received an envelope of dollars and quarters, a fortune to these kids and a treasure to us.

So many times, especially during the summer and the holiday seasons, children are the ones coming through our back door at Fishline with their arms loaded with donations.  They come as their family's ambassadors, representing the care and concern that their parents have expressed in their words or by their own example.  For others, volunteering is a way to learn the value of service - it's one of the fun aspects of summer at Fishline, watching so many youth working side by side with long-time volunteers.  

These are teachable moments that will have a lasting impact.  What can start out as a response to a gentle nudge from Mom and Dad can become a real habit as children grow and begin to make decisions about how they can be of service to the world.  It shouldn't surprise us when they surpass us, innovating and collaborating to address even the hardest challenges.

These humble beginnings are growing into a powerful force in our country and beyond.  In communities throughout the world, young people are affecting real change with their giving.  Web sites are now devoted to reporting and coordinating this grass-roots powerhouse. watches the trends and priorities of a whole generation who have grown up prosperous and want to use that prosperity to create equality around the world. gathers examples of kids of all ages who have taken it upon themselves to right a wrong or help someone who's hurting.  Take a moment and try to read that list of accomplishments without feeling proud and inspired - it's impossible.  There is even a Young Philanthropists Foundation, encouraging a new generation of givers.  What a hopeful way to see our future, in the hands of so many who want and will build a kinder, more inclusive world.

Locally, young people have many ways they can help other children who are not as fortunate. When shopping for school supplies, they can buy extras and donate them to Fishline's school supply program, helping to fill backpacks with glue sticks and paper and other items so hard to afford for many families.  Kids can donate food items to our Food for Thought program, ensuring low income children will have enough food for weekends when school lunches are not available.  Even donating clothes not needed or wanted anymore to Second Season might eventually reach needy children who we invite to shop for free as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

Nurturing a desire in our children to help others is an investment in a world free from want or disillusion. They can know that every act of giving, big or small, will make a difference. By entrusting our youth with the soul of our civilization and reminding them that a better world is in their grasp, we can rest assured that things can only get better from here on out.