Children’s Home Society/Key Peninsula Family Resource Center started the new year with a new program manager at the helm. Jud Morris was selected after an extensive search that included about 40 applicants, following the departure last year of Edie Morgan.
Morris comes to the center with 40 years of experience in social work, which included urban and rural areas. A Washington state resident for about 20 years, he currently lives on Raft Island near Gig Harbor.
Morris has a wide gamut of previous jobs in the social work field, including work with special needs children, child protective services, mental health clients, and aging and adult services. Part of The Children’s Home Society organization since 2001, he most recently worked at its Tacoma office.
Morris is not a complete stranger to the Key Peninsula. He has been in the area before looking to buy a home, and had visited the KP Family Resource Center. “The building has its challenges, but I really think we deliver superb services,” he said in an interview about a week after he started his new job.
Morris said he’d like to refocus the center’s vision and concentrate on helping clients become self-sufficient —what he refers to as “not doing things for people but with people.” He hopes to get the community involved in the process, and together with staff discussed ways to do that. One of the first changes was the format of the monthly advisory board meetings. At the next meeting, and others in the future, Morris would like community members to come and participate in developing the vision for the center. He would like to ask for input and encourage them to become involved.
The staff came up with the idea, Morris said. “They were fabulous about it,” he said.
Morris, who grew up in Chicago, says he understands the neighborhood feeling of a rural area like the Key Peninsula, with its sense that “we are in it together.”
“I like the Key…I think there is a lot of potential here, and challenges to be met through hard work of many people,” he said. “I think what stands out initially (about the area) — and I understand the economic difference — the unique geographic structure and the isolated area create a different sense of community than in an area like Tacoma.”
Morris hopes to take advantage of that sense of community and not only involve more people in the center but also create an inclusive environment for the people served by KPFRC. He plans to look at new classes and other services with the focus on self-sufficiency, while at the same time try to make the center self-sufficient as well. “We are not looking at doing things that cost more money, but taking a look at how we do more what we do,” he said.