The Key Peninsula Community Services building in Home is a bit of a head-turner these days. Exciting changes are in the works inside and out for the nearly 100-year-old structure, home to the former Lakebay Elementary School until the 1940s.
Thanks to generous COVID-19 relief funding from Pierce County, the property will get several much needed upgrades.
A couple of big exterior projects have already been completed, such as installation of a new cedar handrail on the ramp leading to the office of the senior center.
Another project was repaving the parking lot entrance. An increase in the flow of traffic for food bank and senior meal pickups over the last year caused more wear and tear to existing potholes. When funds became available, these issues were among the first to be addressed.
“We’ve been really putting a lot of effort into being good stewards of the funds that we were given,” said KPCS Executive Director Willow Eaton. “The whole focus was that we would spend it on things that would serve us for many years.”
The new asphalt project was funded by a portion of a $100,000 grant awarded by the county. It was a challenge trying to spend this money since the center was only given nine days to figure out where to allocate the funds.
“When you haven’t been able to purchase things for your program in forever, it takes a different mindset to really consider what it is you need,” Eaton said.
In addition to repaving, KPCS was also able to increase its food bank storage capacity by repairing the freezer and purchasing two new refrigerators.
Other improvements include new ADA accessible sinks in the restrooms, new lights and new floors.
Upstairs, the front office has been given a facelift with a new coat of paint, fresh trim and a new desk for the office manager, Kyong Bertsch. Her presence front and center is as important as ever and will continue when the building eventually reopens for in-person programs; Eaton said they will continue to maintain safety precautions taken during the pandemic for some time. Having someone at the front door to remind patrons that social distancing and sanitizing protocols are still being practiced will help keep the center safe for vulnerable community members.
This turn of events isn’t exactly what Eaton expected when she started her job as director back in October of 2019, just a few months before the pandemic hit. “COVID has impacted my role in every way you can possibly imagine,” she said. “I’m coming into my own, though it’s much different than I anticipated because we’re still basically closed down even though we still provide all our services.” Eaton said KPCS hasn’t missed a day of service since the pandemic began, thanks to her amazing team.
Though the county has been generous with relief funds and having many big expenditures taken care of puts KPCS in a better financial position, Eaton said receiving this kind of large grant isn’t a regular occurrence. For day-to-day operations, KPCS relies on the community for support and appreciates donations of any amount.
As for volunteering, the state sent a few National Guardsmen to help and KPCS is limited to how many people can be on site at a time. But there are always things to do, Eaton said.
“We have a delightful woman who makes hats and I hand them out at the senior center or at the food bank and people are very appreciative. And so if there are people who have a skill along those lines, of course we can always use that kind of stuff.”
Key Peninsula Community Services is located at 17015 9th Street Court NW, just south of the Home bridge on the KP Highway. The food bank is open Tuesday through Friday; hours vary. For more information, go to www.keypeninsulacommunityservices.org, or call 253-884-4440.
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