Monday, January 7, 2013

Community Partner of the Year: Our Community!

Each this past year we highlighted a community partner -- a local business or organization that has gone above and beyond to support our efforts at NK Fishline.  As we begin a New Year and reflect on 2012, it's clear that one group has shown extraordinary efforts when it comes to helping NK Fishline:  our COMMUNITY!  That's why we have chosen our Community as Partner of the Year.

There are so many great examples of ways that our North Kitsap community has stepped up to help those in need -- here are a few highlights:

Fill the Bus Campaign

At North Kitsap High School, the student group Signing for Change, along with the school librarian, Mary Fox started a project called Fill the Bus.  Starting before Thanksgiving, students spent weeks filling the bus with donations of food, clothing, and other needed items for disadvantaged or homeless students and families.   The bus traveled to other area schools to collect supplies and the goal?  To actually FILL THE BUS. When the very long bus could not fit anymore, then it would be deliver time.  The program was a huge success.  The kids delivered 700 lbs of food to NK Fishline and approximately 70 huge bags of clothing for our thrift store.

Read more here about the origin of the Fill the Bus campaign, and the remarkable efforts by these students in our community.

Our Volunteers

Over 200 members of our community have committed to doing whatever they can to keep Fishline humming and serving its constituency.  They come from all walks of life, all ages and personalities.  Clients who want to pay back the help they receive even volunteer.  All come together with a shared purpose which bonds them to one another and to the clients they serve.  Volunteers are the key and the core to all that is accomplished at NK Fishline, helping in every conceivable way, giving time and talent, even treasure.  It is the thing most noticed by those who tour our facility - the beehive of activity as every helper participates in the orchestra of effort needed for a busy food bank like ours.

This summer, our volunteers kicked it up a notch, by leading an effort to redesign our front market to create a more just, respectful and efficient distribution model.  Because of their work, combined with feedback from clients and management, a new and innovative approach worked on its first iteration, a testimony to thoughtful design and great planning.  Read more in detail about the changes we made to the front market here.

Dozens of other volunteers work tirelessly and with great creativity to create a beautiful shopping experience at Second Season, our thrift store that devotes all profits to Fishline.  Throughout the year, they sort through thousands of donated items, lovingly seeing each item's potential and then displaying it so enticingly that sales keep breaking records.

Fishline could not exist a single day without its volunteers, and we owe them a great debt of thanks.

Super Hero Efforts

One night in July,  NK Fishline's walk-in freezer died.  Thousands of pounds of frozen meat, needed to help our clients, were in jeopardy of thawing and then being thrown away.  Central Market agreed to store all our frozen items until our freezer was repaired.  So volunteers came in during the middle of the night while Central was waiting to help us unload and store them in their freezer. The next day, we had the unit repaired (a costly endeavor -- but worth it!).  At the end of the day, with these super heroes ready and on hand, we were able to save all the meat and lost only a little ice cream.  It was a small, but awesome, miracle.

Donations of much needed equipment

As Fishline grows, so does our need for equipment.  Time and time again, volunteers, businesses, and many people have stepped forward to provide what we needed.  This past year, Rotary purchased for Fishline a sorely-needed three-door cooler, a huge contribution that will make it possible for us to provide nourishing fruits, vegetables and dairy to dozens more families each week.  This equipment was vital in the changes we made to our front market this year. The senior center donated a van for pickup and transport of food, clothing, and other good from area businesses to the food bank. Other donations included a handmade table for sorting food, a wireless router, shopping buggies donated by Central Market and Albertson's, and computer equipment. All things big and small -- our community manages to help find and donate the things we need, when we need them.

North Kitsap Ladies Volleyball Team Collects Food for Thought Essentials
Food for Thought 

This year we went to the community to promote a program that we have had for a while -- Food for Thought.  Food for Thought is a weekend meal program for at risk and needy children in the community.  Read more about the program here.  Our thoughts were to create an aspect of the program called "Backpack Friends," bringing the Food for Thought program to a higher level.  This sponsorship program would give members of the community the opportunity to sponsor an individual child for a month, semester, or school year-- or even an entire school. The response has been overwhelming and is still incoming. 

A representative from Pacific Northwest Title drops off food from their annual food drive.

Food Donations

Throughout the year, various businesses and organizations come forward to host food drives in the community. Not only do these food drives support NK Fishline, but they help to bring together the group as well.  We are so thankful to be the recipient of the collections -- and especially thankful that these events happen all year long and not only during the holiday season.  In 2012, the total food collected was 67, 205 lbs! Simply extraordinary!!

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