Locals host fundraiser, support Sojourner’s Alliance

Community raises funds for shelter damaged by fire


LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen

Sandra Kelly, organizer for the Sojouner’s Alliance fundraiser, talks about business contributions.

Dan Doucet, Evergreen opinion editor

A group in Moscow is holding a fundraising event for Sojourners’ Alliance, the only long-term homeless shelter in the Palouse, after a fire partially destroyed one of its houses in December.

The Friday evening event, “Raising the Roof for Sojourner’s Alliance,” will feature music by local artists and refreshments donated by Pullman and Moscow businesses.

Sandra Kelly, a Moscow resident who is helping organize the concert, said there is no organization hosting the event: just people helping people.

“We’re just a group of Moscow women that said, ‘Gosh, we’re gonna help Sojourner’s,’” Kelly said.

She said she and three other women from Moscow started thinking of ways they could help the homeless shelter the day after the fire. Planning for this event started in January.

“Moscow is the type of place where people rally together,” she said.

The Sojourner’s Alliance offices were heavily damaged in the blaze, along with the men’s living space. In an earlier interview, Sojourner’s Alliance director Steve Bonnar said the organization cannot operate without its offices since that is where they meet new residents and store records.

Additionally, the men’s units will not be livable again for several months. He said insurance is covering the cost of building repairs and damaged computers.

Matthew Rieche, the alleged arsonist, is still being held in the Latah County Jail, according to the Latah County Jail roster. He is currently facing felony charges for arson, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository.

In the past, Sojourner’s Alliance has faced other financial troubles, including the loss of federal funding. The organization was able to recover through the help of community fundraising.

This December, the shelter held a major fundraising event, which Bonnar said brought in about 100 more donations than last year. But the shelter still needs money in order to cover the cost of temporary housing, furniture and miscellaneous costs, Kelly said.

“They’re desperately searching for funds,” she said. “They need help and they need all the help they can get.”

Kelly said Bonnar was excited to hear they were putting on the concert, but that he said there was not much he could do to help since he is busy with the shelter. She said she asked him to make an appearance and say a few words about Sojourners’ Alliance.

Kelly said she is expecting a large turnout to the event. With food and drink sales and the suggested donation of $20 for entry, she hopes they will raise around $5,000.

She said she doesn’t want the high suggested donation to scare people away and encouraged students to attend.

“If you think that’s really pricey, come in, give us $5 and we’ll let you in,” Kelly said.

She said in a small town like Moscow, people are eager to help. Kelly said when she reached out to several restaurants and bars and asked for their support, she wasn’t surprised when most responded positively, only asking for a time and place.

Since all of the restaurants and bars are donating their food, 100 percent of the money made at the concert will support the shelter, she said. In addition to the refreshments and dinner, Kelly said there will be a variety of local artists performing.

“I’ve never been in a town that has so many musicians that are good,” she said.

The event is planned for Friday from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse in Moscow. Kelly said she can’t wait to see the turnout at the event and that she believes they will have a big impact on the shelter.

“It’s not like the humane society, you know, with cute, fuzzy animals,” she said. “It’s a harder group, but everyone needs a home.”