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Helpline House Completes National Search, Hires New Executive Director

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

November 16, 2017 – BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA – Helpline House announced today that it has completed a three-month, nationwide search and hired Bainbridge Island resident Maria Metzler as its new Executive Director.

Metzler, who will start work on January 2, 2018, will replace Matt Eldridge who has been serving as the organization’s Interim Executive Director since July and led its search committee. Joanne Tews, Helpline’s ED for the last 18 years, retired August 4. “As Helpline approaches its 50th anniversary in 2018, we are absolutely thrilled to have Maria at the helm,” remarked outgoing Helpline Board President Paulette Peterson. “There is a significant opportunity to re-examine the changing needs of our community and see how Helpline can make even more of a difference for families and individuals in need. Maria is exceptionally well-suited to help lead us into this next chapter.”

Metzler brings more than 17 years of experience in social services. She will be leaving her role as Senior Housing Program Manager at Seattle’s DESC, formerly known as the Downtown Emergency Services Center, which works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental illnesses or substance use disorders. Metzler oversees a budget of nearly $10 million and 107 program staff.

“The search process was highly competitive,” said Eldridge. “Among dozens of qualified applicants from around the country and in this region, Maria stood out. She not only has strong leadership experience, but also a unique, demonstrated ability to work effectively with a range of stakeholders to develop and execute a strategic vision.”

Over the past four months, Helpline has implemented a number of notable changes to bolster its impact in the community, from increased collaboration with peer organizations to enhanced communications with clients, donors and a base of more than 125 volunteers. It has also expanded its work with partner groups, resulting in efforts such as the innovative Gobblefest Bainbridge 2017 benefit concert earlier this month that featured four rock bands and filled Rolling Bay Hall to capacity.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Metzler said. ““Roughly one in ten Bainbridge islanders utilize Helpline’s services each year. Challenges such as cancer, job loss, divorce and mental illness affect people from all walks of life. I’m honored to serve this community.”

“Now more than ever, Helpline is ready to refine its direction and provide essential support to local residents,” commented Board Vice President and Search Committee Vice Chair Leigh Barreca. “Helpline is here to help and we couldn’t be happier to have Maria’s leadership at this critical time.”


Helpline House is a 501(c)(3) 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. For more information, visit



Contact: Matt Eldridge Helpline House

(206) 842-7621

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