Making strides to help those in need
By Abigail Thorpe
With the holidays in the air and Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re all preparing for the first snowfall and the arrival of family and friends to celebrate all that we hold close. As we’re stocking up our fridges and decorating our tables, now’s the perfect time to stop and look outside our own front doors to consider the many ways we can give thanks by giving back.
There are many incredible nonprofits and organizations throughout the community committed to helping those in need throughout the year, and what better time than Thanksgiving to become a part of bringing life, hope and change to those in need?
From soup kitchens and food pantries to resource centers, fundraisers and organizations working to help the homeless, there are boundless opportunities to get involved, whether you have time, goods or money to give. It doesn’t have to take 10 hours a week—perhaps you have a day here and there to give a few hours of your time, or next trip to the grocery store you stock up on some extra items that will help feed a family. However you feel led to help, every gift or moment spent goes that much farther to bringing an individual hope.
The Starting Point: Resources
Whether you’re looking to donate your time or goods, or if you’re someone in need looking for help, the Community Resource EnVision Center makes it easy to get started, uniting nonprofits and service providers under one roof so those in need can come and find the help they need. “Three things that we do here: Get help, get connected and get informed,” explains Linnis Jellinek, executive director of the center. “Getting help is serving clients in need who don’t know where to turn.”
Now in its 11th year, the resource center not only helps direct those in need to resources and partners who can help, they’re a great resource for individuals looking to get involved. The volunteer connect program allows people to see various organizations looking for help and volunteers, and find the right fit for their skills, desires and availability. “It really empowers the service community. We’re working together to improve services and provide effective solutions,” says Jellinek. “Anything to fulfill our mission, which is dedicated to bringing hope to people who don’t know where to turn.”
The EnVision Center’s purpose is simple: To help people reach self-sufficiency and a sustainable position in life through financial empowerment, health and wellness, and character and leadership development. Currently, the center is working with another local nonprofit to help find a solution to urgent sheltering needs in our community, and there are opportunities for people to get involved in every capacity, whether it’s getting out and volunteering, or donating resources. You can stay connected by visiting SandpointCommunityResource.com to find out more about how to get involved.
Helping Hands Healing Hearts opened in May of 2017, and as of July 31, 2021, has served 1,785 women, men and children through 3,649 visits. The joint ministry of 18 Sandpoint area churches extends a helping hand to the community by offering free food, toiletries, diapers, clothing, houseware, furniture and more to those in need. In addition, the organization offers incredible classes like resume writing, budgeting, marriage classes and more to assist people in bettering their lives. There are no financial restrictions, and HHHH is able to operate because of donations, volunteer work and financial support from individuals and churches in the community.
About three months after opening, Helping Hands Healing Hearts was hit with the dire homeless problem Sandpoint faces. After various efforts to house people in homes, a room in the church and even their garage, co-directors Jon and Cathy Pomeroy realized what is truly needed is a transitional living center.
“The need for housing for the homeless in this community is greater than most people realize,” explains Cathy Pomeroy. “Seventeen percent of the clients that come through our center are homeless. That translates into 185 adults and 73 children since opening. And that is just our organization.”
As a result of a fundraiser and donations, HHHH has been able to sign a contract on two acres of land in Ponderay to build The Good Samaritan Inn—a three-story, 44-studio apartment building with a day center, office and classroom. Clients will work up to paying $400 per month, staying up to two years in order to get their feet on the ground. “While there, clients will take classes on budgeting, life skills, personal hygiene, and be connected to job training, church sponsors for mentoring, and, if needed, mental counseling,” adds Pomeroy.
The goal to fund the project is $2 million—a big goal, but one that fills a vital need. Not only are time and goods donations essential to HHHH, financial donations to help fund the homeless transition center are essential. “We, as a community, can do this,” encourages Pomeroy. “The more we help the homeless, the better our community will be.”
Individuals can donate by sending a check to Helping Hands Healing Hearts, Sandpoint Church of God on 221 South Division Avenue with GSI on the memo line or by going to QHSandpoint.org; or if you would like to donate items or your time, stop by the location in the back of the Sandpoint Church of God.
Feast for the Season
As the cold weather sets in, good food and a warm place to eat are more vital than ever, and there are multiple organizations and businesses around our community helping to make sure everyone has access to food. The Bonner Community Food Bank is dedicated to helping provide essential food items to those in need in the community, including food for kids both at school and over the weekend, helping to make sure no child goes hungry.
They are always in need of volunteers and donations, and are a simple, easy and vital way to spread some joy and goodness not only this season, but throughout the year. On your next grocery shopping trip, pick up some extra staples and drop them off, or volunteer with your family or a friend one day a month—whatever you can do, it all makes a difference.
Multiple restaurants, churches and organizations throughout the Sandpoint area offer free meals every week or month, such as The Hoot Owl Café in Ponderay, the Gardenia Center, Sandpoint Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist Church, and more. Check to see if your church or organization has a meal service, and see how you can help.
Events and fundraisers are one of the main ways nonprofits fund their services, and this holiday season there are some exciting ones we can support right here in our community. Every year, we look forward with anticipation to the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser for Kinderhaven, a community organization dedicated to supporting children in crisis. This year, the event will be virtual once again, with the beautifully decorated trees placed in downtown businesses from December 8 through 11. “We felt it was just too soon to gather in large crowds, and if last year is any indication, we know ‘Tour of Trees, Take 2!’ will again be a huge success,” says Kathy Chambers, board chair and volunteer coordinator at Kinderhaven.
A silent auction will be held from December 4 through 11, with auction items available for viewing at the new headquarters at 113 Main Street. “Last year we were humbled and surprised by how many sponsors came forth; many businesses who had not participated before wanted a presence at the Tour of Trees,” adds Chambers.
Besides sponsors, the fundraiser is in need of volunteers, donations, tree hosts and decorators, and more. “We are currently looking to replace our vehicle we use daily, and also our 10-person van. These are big expenses for us, but safety has to be our number one priority with our kids. The best help we can get is for our supporters to participate in this once-a-year (and our only) event!”
On December 2, the Sandpoint Community Resource Center is holding a holiday gathering from 4 to 7pm, the perfect opportunity to learn more about the EnVision Center, various organizations and nonprofits in Sandpoint, and how you can get involved. It’s a fun time to come out and learn about the new work they’re doing to help address homelessness in addition to other opportunities and needs in the community. There will be live music, a Toys for Tots drop, and a Selkirk Realtors family gift tree where people can grab a family’s name to bless for the holidays. “I just invite people to come out, take a tour and see what we’re doing. Come out and catch the Vision!” smiles Jellinek.
Whatever way you choose to give back this holiday season, there are many opportunities through the organizations mentioned here and many others to bless someone in our community with your time, resources or donations. And while this is the perfect time to remember those in need in our community, may we continue to give back not only now but throughout the year.