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.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fishline Celebrates August's Community Partner: Ken's Northwest Automotive

An auto mechanic who tells you the truth about the work your car needs and then keeps those costs down is a treasure for any community.  Through the years, Ken's Northwest Automotive has earned that reputation honestly, by caring for the cars and trucks of local residents and keeping it real.  

Ken and his team have also been great friends to Fishline.  Over the years, they have repaired the vehicles we use at Fishline as a donation to our work.  As the number of vehicles has grown because we have grown, so has the commitment at Ken's Northwest Automotive.  Without working vehicles, Fishline's ability to gather food items for its clients would be impossible, so it is critical that our transportation is  operational and ready for service.  On several occasions, Ken's has come to our aid when a vehicle didn't start, knowing how important our trucks are for our work.  

Modest by nature, Ken doesn't talk about his charitable efforts.  But he has always believed treating people well is good for business, and his loyal following of customers would agree.  For all the ways Ken's Northwest Automotive has contributed to the mission of North Kitsap Fishline, we have chosen them as our Community Partner for August.

Ken's Northwest Automotive can be found at 19470 Viking Ave NW Poulsbo, WA 98370‎, (360) 697-5300.