The Mustard Seed Project began when Edie Morgan, our founder and Executive Director, first visited the Key Peninsula, more than twenty miles long with sixty-five miles of South Puget Sound shoreline, and a population now approaching 20,000. “When I crossed over the land bridge to the peninsula, I knew it was a magical place and that I’d found my home.”
In 2006, as an experienced long-term care social worker, she found her true mission – help the elders of Key Peninsula age in place. After consulting with colleagues and mentors, she and a small group of volunteers surveyed the older adults of the community to understand what elders needed to be able to remain here through the end of their lives.
At that time, very few community-based senior services existed on the Key Peninsula, and it was difficult for elders and their families to identify and connect with services based off-peninsula, due to distance and lack of information. Housing for seniors was non-existent. In 2007, The Mustard Seed Project of Key Peninsula (TMSP) was incorporated to meet those needs, with fiscal sponsorship from the Franciscan Foundation, and a generous start-up grant from the Foundation’s parent organization, Catholic Health Initiatives.
The work of building an elder-friendly community began in earnest, with a core group of volunteers and a knack for creative partnerships. In 2011, TMSP became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization.
TMSP established the Key Senior Information Center first, and those volunteers created a detailed resource guide to provide much-needed information to older Key Peninsula residents and their families. Educational forums on resources for healthy aging were held at the local library. A partnership with Catholic Community Services was established in 2008 to bring their well-established volunteer driver program to the Key Peninsula. A few years later, working with Pierce Transit and the Peninsula School District, we established a novel approach to community transportation utilizing off-duty school buses. Our partnership with Pierce Transit has most recently yielded the use of a wheelchair lift-equipped shuttle van driven by our volunteers, through their Community Solutions program.
Over the past ten years TMSP has grown exponentially, thanks to strong community support and engagement in our work.
Today, our four full-time and three part-time staff, along with more than 75 volunteers, bolstered by our collaborative partnerships, provide a wide array of services. Those services include transportation to medical appointments, shopping and other vital destinations; information and referral to a variety of essential resources; senior advocacy; in-home volunteers for household and yard work; friendly visitors; educational workshops which promote healthy aging and awareness of important resources; an Alzheimer’s Association Family Caregiver support group; and more.
TMSP served 804 individuals in 2016, providing more than 4,300 instances of service – and demand is rising. Over the past several years, we’ve experienced an average annual growth rate of 25% in requests for service. Our generous community, collaborative partners, supportive funders and loyal volunteers have made it possible for TMSP to meet these needs.
Now, to complete the continuum of a truly elder-friendly community, we are addressing the most critical need of local elders: senior housing. Over the next three years, TMSP will build and open the only elder living community on the Key Peninsula.