One Year In: KP Partnership for a Healthy Community Celebrates and Faces a Challenge


Sara Thompson

The Key Peninsula Partnership for a Healthy Community just marked its one-year anniversary. Under co-directors Ben and Susan Paganelli, the partnership established connections and nurtured relationships among many local organizations. They created a website, established a steering committee to provide oversight and created three working committees (Hunger, Transportation and Health and Wellness) to identify resources and gaps. But the original grant paying for their work has ended.
Funding for the first year of the partnership came in late 2015 from the Milgard Family Foundation. The goal of the grant was to support major, cooperative and sustainable community improvement. The grant also provided funding to meet some immediate needs.
The partnership, sponsored by the KP Community Council, planned to leverage funds from a renewal grant to build capacity and increase sustainability. But, Susan Paganelli said, “due to changes in the Milgard Foundation, their focus shifted to short-term, immediate needs.”
Paganelli described the partnership’s approach as an asset-based community model that builds on existing strengths by connecting organizations that don’t usually work together. And that takes time to develop.
“We have the proof of concept,” she said. “If you know someone who got food at the Red Barn provided by Camp Seymour, or used the summer KP School Bus Connects for transportation, took a field trip at Evergreen Elementary, or participated in the Communities in Schools summer program, you saw firsthand what the partnership can accomplish.”
In addition, having a new office for the KP Community Council has been important. The office, which opened in February at the KC Corral, provides a physical point of contact as well as an easily accessible meeting space.
“The ground has shifted,” but those involved in the partnership, including the members of the KP Community Council, are confident that the work will continue, Paganelli said. The steering committee will continue to meet, the backbone of the working committees is still in place and volunteers, including a grant writer, are actively seeking funding to pay for the organizational infrastructure still needed. “And other groups are reaching out to us: The Sheriff’s Department is exploring major changes in their community engagement,” Paganelli said. “The (CHI) Franciscans and the school district have asked the partnership to be involved in Washington Frontiers of Innovation First Thousand Days, a program to prevent adverse outcomes through interventions in the first three years of life, including the prenatal period.
“The organizations serving the Key Peninsula all do a wonderful job, but there is no bandwidth for new projects or for additional coordination,” Paganelli said. “The partnership can provide that bandwidth. Coordinating and connecting the independent energy in this community is a full-time job.” For more information, go to