For Sulja Warnick, it’s simple: “We’re all connected, somehow.”
When Warnick and others help found the Korean Women’s Association in Pierce County more than four decades ago, the goal was simply to help numerous Korean women, many of whom had married American servicemen and were having a hard time adjusting to American culture.
“I never thought we were going to be that big,” Warnick said Monday, at the opening of the association’s new supported living facility just west of Sequim.
Once a social club, the association — commonly referred to as KWA — now boasts about 1,400 employees in 11 counties across Western Washington, helping residents of all backgrounds in both urban and rural communities.
It helps about 150,000 people each year with needs such as in-home care, immigration and naturalization, health screenings, mental health and chemical dependency counseling, domestic violence shelter and affordable housing.
“Along the way, we looked at communities, what needs they have,” said Warnick, a KWA senior advisor and founding member, following a ribbon-cutting at the facility on Kirk Road.
“I’m very proud of what we did. That’s what keeps me going.”
And while KWA continues to operate social service programs across the region, last week’s Sequim opening marked a new era for the organization. It’s the first time KWA has undertaken a supported living residence specifically for those with developmental disabilities, KWA executive director Troy Christensen said Monday.
The Sequim facility, expected to open to clients in early 2018, is funded both by KWA and the Washington State Housing Trust Fund through the Washington State Department of Commerce, Christensen said.
It offers four permanent rooms and two respite beds for a total of six beds for supported living; it is not an adult family home, Christensen noted.
“We look to help people struggling to get back on their feet,” Christensen said, or to help those who have permanent disabilities. “It aligns perfectly with our mission.”
A live-in nurse/manager is staffed and resides in an apartment on the second floor, he said.
These in-home care services are provided at little-to-no cost for the residents, association representatives said.
“We’re very happy to help our disabled clients,” Warnick said, just prior to a ribbon cutting hosted by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon.
“This kind of facility is welcome (in Sequim),” Sequim mayor Dennis Smith said.
While most KWA buildings are new construction, the Sequim structure at 121 Kirk Road was modified for KWA’s needs and, with some complications, took about five years to complete, Christensen said.
“This kind of facility went off well,” Smith said. “They took the time to open the doors.”
Custom care plans
To celebrate the new facility, KWA’s home care office in Sequim is offering a free custom care plan to those interested in hiring a caretaker for themselves or a loved one. KWA care managers help create an individualized plan for full time, part time or respite care.
Schedule an appointment by calling 360-582-1647 or stopping by the office in-person at 441 W. Washington St. KWA also has a Port Angeles storefront at 616 E. Front St.
KWA Homecare is also hiring caretakers across Clallam County. Interested applicants are asked to apply at www.kwacares.org and then call the office to schedule an interview.
The Korean Women’s Association is headquartered in Tacoma boasts a $40 million annual budget.