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Pilgrim Firs serves as isolation center for the county

Since March 25, Pilgrim Firs, the PNC camp and conference center at Port Orchard has served about 15 guests on contract as a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation center with Kitsap County.

Kitsap County District 1 Commissioner Robert Gelder and Gretchen Ta are among the volunteers. 

                  Photos courtesy of Pilgrim Firs

Wade Zick, managing director of Pilgrim Firs, first agreed to have the program for only men who are first responders, medical personnel or homeless. 

Another camp was to have hosted families and women, but there was less need than expected, so the other location was dropped and Pilgrim Firs is the only site.

“We are grateful for being used as a place of healing for them and the community,” said Wade.

People who come are referred by a health care provider.  The temporary shelter is not for people in nursing homes or people with complications needing hospital care.  The center provides lodging, meals and laundry.

“Pilgrim Firs provides the food and hospitality, maintaining a safe distance,” said Chris Berry, a member of Fox Island UCC who has been assistant director of hospitality for four years.

If one person is on site, they provide about seven meals for the volunteers and staff.

Staff from the county and volunteers they have trained work in the office, serve the food, interact with the people and interview them.  Medical officers do testing and treatment.

The three Pilgrim Firs staff prepare the meals and do normal cleanup.

A hazard team does the cleanup and sanitization. 

Guests are on site four to 14 days. They are not to come and go, Chris said. 

If they leave, they have broken quarantine and cannot return.

Several have been first responders and several have been homeless.

Pilgrim Firs has used three cabins, Huckleberry Lodge and South Lodge.

People come with their personal belongings, but those who are homeless may come with nothing.

More than 30 people have donated masks, gift cards, health kit supplies, comfy clothing and puzzles/books/games.  Some individuals and groups have given financial gifts.  The Kitsap Library has provided a mobile library donation.

“If they are masked, they are free to walk the grounds and enjoy the camp,” said Chris, “but they are to approach no one and no one is to approach them.”

The contract with the county has helped keep the camp going and cover salaries.

“I now feel like I am part of a partnership with the county and the community.  This program gives us a broader base than we usually serve with the secular arts camps and the church camps,” he said.

Chris, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, New York and Nicaragua, first came to the Northwest to stay with his brother in Gig Harbor. 

When he began attending Fox Island, he learned about the opportunity to work at Pilgrim Firs.

He believes the relationships Wade has forged with the community in doing this effort will have long-term benefit.

The contract runs through the end of August, and after that the need may continue until there is a vaccine.

“I miss the connections we have when the camps are here,” he said, “but this innovative program is important.”

“I’m delighted to a partner with the community and the county,” Wade said. 

For information, call 360-876-2031 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church News - Copyright © Summer 2020


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