by Cara Gardner and Kristina Crawley

In the Bank -- SPOKANE - For many people, payday means stuffing bills under the mattress or in the sock drawer. Thousands of local residents have money but don't put it in the bank. This is especially true for clients of the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP), a local advocacy organization for low-income and homeless people.

"I kept hearing people come in saying they couldn't pay their rent or electric bill because they cashed their check and the money got stolen or lost," says Kerri Rodkey, economic development manager for SNAP. "So I put together a questionnaire last year [asking about peoples' finances], and 257 people filled it out. Forty-eight percent of them had no bank or credit union experience at all."

Rodkey decided to help people who had never learned about banking and money management. Together with Numerica Credit Union and Washington State Employees Credit Union, SNAP formed Neighborhood Assets, a program offering free financial training and the opportunity to open a credit union account. Every Monday and Thursday afternoon, the SNAP conference room becomes a quasi-credit union and people can open an account and take money management classes; since the program began in April, 48 people have started new savings accounts.

"Anyone who's willing to work toward reconciling their debt and learning better money management can get a savings account," Rodkey says. "As they work through the process, make a payment, save a little, they can work toward getting an ATM card until they have full membership privileges."

For more information about Neighborhood Assets, visit SNAP at or call 456-7378. SNAP is located at 212 S. Wall St. Credit Union hours are Monday and Thursday, from 1:30-4:30 pm.

Six Habitats -- SPOKANE -- Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans are teaming up to make the dreams of six families come true. It's the first time Habitat has ever undertaken the building of this many homes at once. The group got started with the build on Monday, and plans to finish by Sept. 25.

"'Hearts, Hands and Homes' -- I love that phrase, because it sums it all up," says Colleen Piehl, communications liaison between Thrivent and Habitat. "Because the hope is, with a lot of heart and a little bit of hard work, these six families will finally have homes to call their own."

Thrivent Financial is a nonprofit organization that's dedicated to helping people achieve financial goals. Those goals often include owning a home, hence their 14-year relationship with Habitat for Humanity. After committing $1.28 million to Habitat for Humanity for 2004, Thrivent committed another $600,000 for this six-unit build. With this new multiple-build pilot project, Thrivent aims to use funds and volunteer hours more effectively.

Two other multi-unit builds are planned for 2004 in Richmond, Va., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Thrivent is still looking for volunteers from the community to help with the build. Volunteer forms can be picked up at most local Lutheran churches or at the building site in the 1700 block of East Boone Avenue.

"Our volunteers have the funds to do things," says Mike Feiler, manager of Lutheran community services for Thrivent. "They just need to roll up their sleeves and put their muscles to work."

For more information, call Spokane Habitat for Humanity at 534-2552 or

Oh, the Humanity! -- SPOKANE -- Plans for a Center for the Humanities at Spokane Community College got a huge boost after the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a federal grant-making agency, awarded the school a challenge grant of $300,000 for the project. SCC is one of just 17 recipients of NEH challenge grants nationwide. The SCC fundraising campaign has raised nearly $200,000 in pledges and donations so far, and needs to reach $900,000 by January 2008.

"This is a unique and exciting opportunity," says Gail Stevenson, executive director of the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation. "It gives national attention to the integrity and importance of integrating humanities into colleges."

The Center for the Humanities will be located on the second floor of the Learning Resources Center at SCC. Staff will coordinate two campus-wide projects a year to incorporate humanities into the curriculum.

To donate to the Center for Humanities at SCC, call 434-5123.

Publication date: 08/05/04

March for Meals Mall Crawl @ Spokane Valley Mall

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