The Key Peninsula Community Council elected new officers and welcomed two new members at its November meeting. The new leadership team plans to make the council a central resource for the community for information and referrals to services.
A recent $35,000 grant from Pierce County to the council will help. The council will be reimbursed for allowable expenses including utilities, outreach, consultation regarding the website and social media, and some needed improvements at its office in the Key Center Corral.
“We are a hub,” said Kathy Lyons, the new council president. Lyons recently served as vice president and has been on the council for four years and also spearheads the Key Peninsula Beautification Project. “We want to be more inclusive, available to the community as an information resource center.”
Lisa Monnerjahn is the council’s new vice president and acting secretary and leads volunteer coordination.
“We have a lot of nonprofits here with a lot of overlap,” said Mary Moffett, the council's acting treasurer. “Our uniqueness is that we are here with a physical spot for county resources.” Moffett joined the board in 2023 and currently volunteers at the office desk once a week.
“We want to move from being an amorphous blob to being a concrete goal-oriented community service organization,” said Susan Mendenhall. She is not a board member, but volunteers each Friday at the Key Center office.
The council has had an office in the Key Center Corral since 2017 and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its main source of income comes from rent paid by the agencies and organizations using it to provide outreach and services there, including the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Safe Streets, Key Free Clinic, and the Key Peninsula Partnership for a Healthy Community. A volunteer staffs the front desk except for Thursdays, when Pierce County Council Member Robyn Denson for the 7th district, or her assistant John Jolibois, hold their regular hours.
The council was established in 2004 under the leadership of Jeff Harris and Dennis Taylor to serve as a voice for the community. The goals were to facilitate interactions between agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals; to serve as a liaison to county, state, and federal government; to act as a resource for the community; and to assist in fundraising and volunteer recruitment on behalf of other community organizations.
It was designed to be representative with 14 directors from each of the four Key Peninsula census tracts. Initially, directors were selected by an election process, but the cost of outreach was high and voter turnout was low. In 2015 its bylaws were updated and directors were invited to apply for appointment by the board to two-year terms.
The most recent update of the bylaws eliminated the requirement for board members to represent specific census tracts. “We all live here,” Lyons said. “It didn’t make sense to have divisions.”
“We want to work with all the nonprofits and not be siloed,” Lyons said. As part of that effort, the board invited local organizations to the annual meeting Dec. 14 to share a vision for working together.
Over the years the council has served as a nonprofit sponsor for several organizations including KP School Bus Connects (ended in 2022), and the KP Partnership and the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition (both now independent nonprofits). It serves as the fiscal sponsor for the KP Farm Tour and for the recent feasibility study for a pathway between Key Center and the Red Barn.
According to Monnerjahn, the council determines what projects to focus on based on suggestions that come up during meetings and having someone to steer the project. Recent and current projects include the Broadband Project, the Beautification Project, Key Pen It Clean, and the Scarecrow Contest. It cosponsors the candidate forum each election cycle along with Key Peninsula News and the Key Peninsula Civic Center.
The council is recruiting both volunteers and board members. Board members are asked to commit to two years of service, attend monthly meetings, and be a part of a standing committee or to volunteer at the office. “Bring your skills, be a team player, and have a passion for the community,” Lyons said.
“Volunteering is a great way to get to know the community,” Moffett said. “We would welcome newcomers.”
The schedule for Health Department services is available online at www.tpchd.org.
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