We've been involved with local charities and nonprofits for years; publishing our Give Guide every year has given us an up-close look at this sector that is so crucial to our quality of life. So I can attest that the Inland Northwest has a big heart; people give here — a lot. But I always felt like there was an undersold element: volunteering.
Now I'm not saying there's been no volunteering — there's been tons. I've just felt we could do more. Our local charities need to be just as comfortable reaching out to people who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work as they are with people who simply want to write a check. So when we heard about Spokane Gives Week, and its focus on volunteering, we joined the effort to help connect you, the people, to our community. I love that it's not just a chance to give, but to join together on a human level — and to nurture a lifelong devotion to doing for others. Young people, in particular, are strong candidates to pitch in.
Kudos to Mayor David Condon for adopting an idea he saw in other cities and reaching out to the United Way and the Empire Health Foundation here to make it happen. Think of it as a Kickstarter for our local charities; citizens can visit the website (spokanegives.org) to find a cause that fits them best. It puts even the smallest organization on a level playing field with our most established charities.
I saw the power of volunteering at one of those small organizations this week during a visit to the West Central Episcopal Mission, where formerly homeless young people become volunteers at the mission. (You can read about my experience on page 62.)
Spokane Gives is a year-round effort to connect people to causes. Organizations post a need; volunteers answer the call. Spokane Gives, the Week, which runs through Saturday, is the cherry on top, and in just its second year is already taking off. Hundreds gathered on Saturday for Cleaning from the Core — a downtown cleanup that earned volunteers a cool Garbage Goat T-shirt. Gonzaga University students, led by Student Body President Connor House, participated in a Lidgerwood Neighborhood cleanup. And members of our Inlander team will join with staffers from the Empire Health Foundation this week to plant trees near the Spokane River as part of a citywide greening-up effort.
There's still time for you. The North YMCA, for example, needs help building a garden for youngsters to learn in. Or you can help sort and pack food that's been donated to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank. Spokane needs you, this week and every week of the year. ♦