The Key Peninsula Community Council (KPC) has been awarded a $150,000 grant by the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation.

“The purpose of the grant is to build a first-class, healthy-community model — one that may inspire and benefit service organizations throughout the Kitsap Peninsula region,” said Danna Webster, co-president of KPC.

About a year ago, the Milgard Family Foundation convened a group of Key Peninsula human-services leaders with a desire to make a significant local investment that would lead to cooperative and sustainable community improvement. They wanted to focus on increasing the quality of life for families in need.

The group included leaders from Boys and Girls Club, CHI Franciscan, Childrens Home Society, Communities in Schools, Key Peninsula Community Services, Red Barn, KP School Bus Connects and The Mustard Seed Project. They met monthly to discuss the optimal way to make a lasting, positive impact, according to organizers.

The group decided establish an infrastructure rather than funding ongoing or new services.

“Those at the meetings wanted to have a better way to allow them to collaborate, strategize and coordinate so that they can serve their communities without redundancy or unnecessary overlap,” Webster said.

One model the group explored was that of the Rainier Hills Wellness Foundation in Enumclaw (rfwellnessfoundation.org), which has operating for 25 years.

Because KPC is not a service provider and represents the whole community, it was selected as the supervisory backbone for the next steps, including the grant application to the Milgard Family Foundation.

According to the KPC application, if the incomes of those living on the 70 miles of waterfront are not included, the Key Peninsula community is the poorest in Pierce County. More than 30 percent of the population is 55 and older. The poverty level of children in the schools on the Key Peninsula is double that of Gig Harbor schools.

The grant will provide salary and basic support for a community partnership director as well as funding for some direct services. It is for one year, with the possibility of renewal.

The first-year work plan includes:

Building community leadership and engagement

Increasing direct services with a focus on transportation, hunger, and health and wellness

Assessing and report community assets, needs and gaps

Creating a multiyear community action plan.

The next step will be to hire the director. A job description is available on the KPC website at kpcouncil.com.

Expectations are high, Webster said.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Moms Mabley: ‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got,’”she said. “The healthy-community model is an opportunity to improve upon the good work that our service agencies have been doing and increase the success of their programs.”

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