Clark County nonprofits that serve people experiencing homelessness exceeded or came close to meeting their fundraising goals at Give More 24! this year, indicating that there is momentum behind these organizations and their mission to alleviate homelessness in Clark County.
The COVID-19 pandemic and inflation strained the economy over the past year, and some homeless service providers worried that their Give More 24! fundraising efforts might lag compared to last year. Additionally, some worried that the community might be fatigued by the issue since homelessness is on the rise in Clark County.
But that wasn’t the case. Instead, every organization that serves people experiencing homelessness in Clark County that participated in Give More 24! received either a comparable amount or more in donations compared to last year.
For example, Community Roots Collaborative, a nonprofit developer of permanent, affordable tiny homes for people exiting homelessness, raised $71,000, exceeding its goal of $50,000, according to board member Dan Whiteley.
“We are truly humbled by the willingness of our community to donate to our cause of building permanent tiny homes for the homeless,” Whitely said.
Community Roots Collaborative plans to use those donations to develop a tiny home community at 3600 O St., the site of a dilapidated church in the Rose Village neighborhood. The church is being refurbished and will soon include 12 units of housing for people exiting homelessness.
Community Roots Collaborative wasn’t the only organization that exceeded expectations — Share raised $111,492 this year from 239 donors.
“We raised about $1,000 more than last year, and we had 26 more donors than last year,” said Share spokeswoman Jessica Lightheart. “Success comes not just from the dollars, but also the number of people who donate. That’s what crowdfunding is all about.”
Share will use that money to support its meal and nutrition programs. It will also bolster services at the Share House shelter and the Winter Hospitality Overflow shelter.
“Those programs receive grant funding and government dollars, but private donations fill the gaps and keep the doors open for people and families,” Lightheart said.
Increased support this year is a sign that people are motivated to find solutions to ending homelessness, Lightheart said.
“We’re continuing to recover and move past the pandemic, but life has not dramatically improved for people experiencing homelessness,” she said. “Affordable housing continues to be our focus. Our housing navigators work so hard every day, and they have success, but the reality is there aren’t enough livable units that are affordable for people, especially for people currently experiencing homelessness. Everything is expensive out there. The [Winter Hospitality Overflow shelter] will be taking off soon, and we expect it will be full from the get-go, which is unfortunate. It’s great that we have it as a resource, but it’s sad that the need is so high.”
‘We did very well’
Not every organization that serves people experiencing homelessness exceeded its fundraising goals, but they all came close.
Family Promise of Clark County raised $67,075, short of its $80,000 goal. But the amount is still substantial and will help the organization serve families and children impacted by homelessness in Clark County, according to Executive Director Lois Smith.
“We did very well, especially considering the economy right now and what’s happening with cost of living going up,” Smith said. “Our donors definitely stepped up again this year.”
Those donations will be used to support Family Promise’s programs that aim to prevent homelessness, help children impacted by homelessness and support families recovering from homelessness.
“Families and kids experiencing homelessness often go unnoticed,” Smith said. “They live in cars and hotels, not on the corner of a street. I call them the unseen homeless, the families that are doubling up. I believe our community fully supports families and children. We need to get them into shelter and provide support services critical to keep them from homelessness. I don’t see support for our mission lagging.”
Outsiders Inn raised $10,562, and that money will go toward providing shower and laundry trailers at The Outpost, Vancouver’s first Safe Stay Community at 11400 N.E. 51st Circle that Outsiders Inn operates. Donations will also go toward providing people with transportation assistance and other resources.
“We’re very happy with the results,” said Executive Director Adam Kravitz.
This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.