Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation to serve despite cuts

Stephanie Robinson loads groceries Monday. Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation has had to scale back its food delivery program due to state cuts.  - Kristin Okinaka
Stephanie Robinson loads groceries Monday. Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation has had to scale back its food delivery program due to state cuts.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka

Ann Daniels loaded the last full bag into her car Monday in preparation for her route delivering food to some Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation’s clients.

Just before she left, Stephanie Robinson, the foundation’s food program coordinator, asked her if she’d also be interested in volunteering with clerical work at the foundation’s Silverdale office.

Because of state cuts, Kitsap County Health District isn’t able to fully fund the foundation’s food delivery program — and youth program — in 2012. The food program already stopped operating on a weekly schedule two months ago and Robinson was looking for ways to retain their volunteer drivers — they just may not be driving around the county as often.

Ingredients for a holiday meal were distributed to low-income foundation clients  that were referred to by the health district through help of the Bremerton Foodline. Food deliveries went out for Thanksgiving as well.

Kim McKoy, the foundation’s executive director, said Tuesday that they are not abandoning those in need of their help.

“We’re just not continuing it in the way that it was,” she said.

McKoy said in addition to the two holiday food deliveries that she plans to continue next year, the foundation will fully stock a pantry at the office for clients to drop by and pick up non-perishable food and essential toiletry and household items that can’t be bought with food stamps.

The foundation has always had a food pantry but they plan to “liven it up,” she said.

The foundation has yet to figure out how to continue supporting those without transportation or are homebound.

“We’ll see how we can rise up to that need,” McKoy said.

Sally McAllaster, who has been volunteering with the foundation for several years, said as a driver delivering groceries to clients on a weekly basis, she got to know some of them and formed personal relationships.

“Some came to the door and were grateful but I didn’t get to know them. Others wanted to chat,” said McAllaster.

One man calls her “Sunshine.”

Food program support from the county healthy district was $9,228 a year, according to McKoy. From the beginning of the year through the end of June, the foundation’s youth program received $13,776 from the health district. The foundation will continue to receive $10,000 for the time frame of July through June 2012.

Despite the cuts from the state level to the health district that affect the foundation, they don’t plan on eliminating the youth program, which includes a weekly curriculum-based drop-in center, said McKoy. More than 300 youths participated in the youth programs in the first 11 months of this year.

Just like changing the way they may be helping clients who receive food, youths will continue to be served but the money for the program will have to come elsewhere, such as through other partnerships or fundraising.

“It’s not going anywhere. We’re keeping it going,” McKoy said.

Through November of this year, the foundation received more than 1,400 hours of volunteer help for various services and programs. McCoy said she is grateful for the continual support from community members and other organizations and that the means to continue the foundation’s programs will keep going with their help.

Robinson said the foundation purchased food for 10 families but they were able to deliver food to about 45 clients Monday and Tuesday because of contributions from the Bremerton Foodline.

“We’re still going no matter what,” said McCoy.

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