Maria Metzler’s new job as executive director of Helpline House got off to a $22,000 start over the New Year, thanks to Island Fitness, 15 other local businesses, a small army of volunteers and the nearly 1,000 people who participated in last year’s Turkey Trot.
Island Fitness owners Michael and Alexa Rosenthal, longtime Helpline House supporters, recently presented the Turkey Trot proceeds to Metzler, who officially took over at Helpline House on Jan. 2.
The donation will be used for the nonprofit’s social services programs, which help roughly 1 in 10 island residents each year, according to Helpline officials.
“The Turkey Trot is an event we look forward to each year at Helpline,” Metzler said. “We’re so grateful to our partners [at] Island Fitness for organizing and staffing the event.”
Metzler replaced Matt Eldridge, who had been serving as Helpline’s interim executive director since July and led its search committee for a new director.
The Rosenthals, who recently took over as organizing sponsor of the annual Thanksgiving Day event, had some big shoes to fill after Turkey Trot organizers Ann Browning and Jennifer Campbell retired last year. But they wanted to carry on the family friendly event, especially because it has benefited Helpline House the past eight years.
With the help of Island Fitness professional trainers, Brenda Prickett and Dominique Atherley, the 2017 Turkey Trot was a huge success with nearly 1,000 runners and walkers, many clad in Turkey Day costumes.
The Turkey Trot has raised nearly $130,000 for Helpline since its inception in 2010, when a record-breaking snow-and-ice storm nearly canceled the event.
“We kind of joke that it took four of us to fill Ann and Jenny’s shoes, but we feel it’s too important an Island event (and cause) to let go of,” said Michael Rosenthal.
Helpline House is a nonprofit agency that provides a range of social services to Bainbridge Island residents. Founded in 1968 as Fishline, a volunteer emergency aid program, the organization reincorporated as Helpline House in 1973. Initially, the emergency program addressed basic needs via operating a food bank and providing transportation assistance. Helpline House’s services have grown to include information and referral to local, regional and national resources, as well as case management, short term counseling, a food bank, medical equipment lending and limited financial assistance for essential needs.