New Face at The Mustard Seed Project


Carolyn Wiley

Marion Sharp joined The Mustard Seed Project in December. Photo: Ed Johnson, KP News

Marion Sharp stepped into her new job as development director for The Mustard Seed Project in December, just as the organization steps into new territory.

Sharp described her job as “a two-part balancing act; the first responsibility is to maintain current programs and the second part is to expand the funding base for the ambitious plan to build elder-care housing.” She brings proven skills to the job, she said, having worked as development director for Associated Ministries, Pacific Lutheran University, The Humane Society and the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Sharp first met Edie Morgan, founder and executive director of TMSP, when it was taking its first steps 10 years ago. TMSP was housed in a one-room office in the Key Center Professional Center. Their first act was to conduct a communitywide survey to gather information regarding needs of the local senior population. Guided by that information, needs were identified and the services that would improve life for elder residents of the community were prioritized and the work of creating an elder-friendly community began.

The activity level has steadily grown and the expanded programs have forced another move to accommodate staff and volunteers. TMSP offices were relocated Jan. 14 to the building that once housed the Roadhouse Restaurant, now provisionally called the Crandall Center, after an important donor. The interior redesign was made possible through a gift from the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor. With those modifications, the east side of the building will accommodate office space for five staff members and the foyer will provide desk space for a receptionist and an information center volunteer. A café will be opening in the area that was once the bar and the old dining room will be used for a program center and community meeting space. In time, the daylight basement will be available for office space rentals.

With the move completed, Sharp will begin the real work of securing funds for Phase I of the eldercare housing project. For several years, TMSP board has studied a variety of eldercare housing options and has selected Green House Project as the preferred model. Green House facilities are built around the ideal that less institutionalized housing is beneficial to elders.

The proposed plan includes three cottages, each housing 10 residents with a private bedroom and bath. These rooms open into a central common area, where residents can have access to the common kitchen and may join other residents for dining and other activities. The central area will also provide efficient access for health care staff. The goal is to create a real home environment for residents. The estimated cost for the three cottages will be around $7 million. Sharp expects that the effort to secure funds for the capital project will lead to an expanded base of partnerships that will increase funding opportunities and ensure a stronger future for TMSP.