If you ask Dave Foote what were the most challenging and the most rewarding things during his 13 years as executive director of the United Way of Kitsap County, you’ll get the same answer.
“This building,” Foote said, referring to the relocation of the United Way offices at 645 Fourth St. in Bremerton.
The building, which also serves as the location for five other nonprofits, became home in the fall of 2011.
“When I first came to the United Way in 2003, board members were talking about how we needed a new building,” Foote said. “They wanted some place that looked more professional and had better visibility.”
At the time, the United Way was located on Sheridan Road in East Bremerton. By 2006, the board got serious and decided to begin a capital campaign with the goal of building a new building in Silverdale.
“I had tried to rent this building before but it was too costly,” Foote said of the Fourth Street location.
But at the time of the capital campaign, he asked whether the owner of the building would be interested in selling it and found out it had just gone on the market.
The United Way made an offer and it was accepted in August 2007. So the capital campaign became a campaign to raise funds to remodel the building on Fourth Street in Bremerton.
“We raise $2.7 million in two years,” Foote said.
“We wanted to make this building our home and offer space to other nonprofits. And we wanted to have a community room that could be used by any group that needed one.”
The remodel was funded through federal and state grants, a grant from the Gates Foundation and through private donations.
“Having this come to fruition was the dream I had and many, many board members had,” he said.
The building was built in the 1920s and was a car dealership in its early days. It was also a bakery, a Moose Lodge, a furniture store, the Blue Jacket Lounge and at one time had a ballroom on the second floor.
There’s even an underground tunnel that leads from the building across the street to where there was a drugstore. (It’s now a parking garage.)
“What I’ve heard is that people would use it to get to the ballroom,” Foote said.
Foote is also proud of the many partnerships the United Way has helped create during the past 13 years.
“We’ve created strong partnerships with the Kitsap Health District, the Kitsap Community Foundation, the Suquamish Tribe, Harrison Medical Center, the county and the Gates Foundation,” Foote said. “Working together we’ve created the Kitsap Strong campaign and we’re a presenting partner in the Kitsap Great Give.”
He also is proud that the United Way has come through the tough economic times during the 2008 recession and following years, which affected its annual campaign.
“We are persevering,” he said.
Foote grew up in Michigan and graduated from Hastings High School in 1964. He attended Davenport University and graduated from Western Michigan University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business education. He joined the Navy Reserves in 1967 and after college became a commissioned officer in the Navy in November 1969.
He spent just more than 29 years in the Navy, including time in South Carolina, North Carolina, Newport, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, San Diego and St. Louis.
It was in St Louis that he earned his master’s degree in business management. He was then sent to Tacoma to be a Naval Reserve Office Recruiter and when he retired from the Navy in 1996, he and his former wife Patricia, moved to Port Orchard, where her mother lived. They bought a house and Dave began working as a substitute teacher in the South Kitsap School District. Patricia died in 2008.
In March 1997, he was hired as the director of human services for Kitsap Community Resources. It was during that time that he became a loaned executive to the United Way, and when the directorship came open, he was encouraged to apply.
“It was really through Patricia that I came to love the nonprofit world,” he said. “She had operated child care centers and I knew nonprofit was where I wanted to be.”
It was Patricia, too, that got him involved with the Kiwanis.
“Back in Worchester, she was asked to give a talk to the Kiwanis about her work in child care,” he said. “When she came home she said, ‘You have to join that group. They sang to me.’”
And so he did. Foote is an active member of the Kiwanis of Port Orchard, and is a life member of the Kiwanis Club International. He’s served twice as the lieutenant governor for the Pacific Northwest District Division, District Governor’s Project Chairman, and been club president.
“In 2003-2004, I was the district governor’s project chairman and his project was working with Washington MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers),” Foote said. “In that time, we got 20,000 students to pledge not to drive drunk or get in a car with anyone who was impaired.”
In 2010, he met his current wife, Kae, and they were married in New Orleans. In all, Foote has two grown sons, and six stepchildren.
Currently the United Way of Kitsap County has a paid staff of six.
Carl Borg, who has been serving as the development director for the United Way, has been picked to be the next executive director and started in the new post July 1.
As for Foote, in the coming months he’ll be working on improving his golf game, knocking items off the “Honey Do” list, and spending more time with his wife, traveling. They plan a trip to New Zealand in 2017.
There is a public farewell to Foote planned for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 8 at the United Way building in the conference room.
A short program will be given at 5:30 p.m. RSVPs are encouraged by calling 360-377-8505.