Fundraiser provides for two Palouse families

Nonprofit raised about $5,000 during first Night Without A Bed virtual event, community donations



A mother and son, pictured right, graduated from the Family Promise of the Palouse’s shelter program last month. Two more families will be admitted to the program.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen roots editor

Whitman County has one of the highest poverty rates in Washington state, according to the WSU Center for Civic Engagement.

Family Promise of the Palouse, a nonprofit organization, hosted a virtual event, “Night Without a Bed,” to cultivate understanding for families experiencing homelessness.

“We want to bring awareness to homelessness and to discuss what people think of homelessness,” said executive director Janine Rivera.

This was Family Promise of the Palouse’s first virtual event, so it led to some technical complications, said Abby McGarry, volunteer recruitment and education specialist.

The nonprofit raised over $5,000 to provide shelter, food and case management for two families. The Family Promise of the Palouse’s homelessness program allows families to spend up to 90 days in shelter care. The original goal was to raise $20,000 to help secure eight families through the winter season, Rivera said.

She said all donations make an impact during COVID-19 when events get canceled and shelter costs for homeless families are increasing.

Participants in Night Without a Bed slept in a place of discomfort and then shared it on social media, using the hashtag #nightwithoutabed, Rivera said.

Donations will be accepted until Oct. 31. People can post photos on social media of them sleeping without a bed using the hashtag, McGarry said.

The nonprofit wants to build empathy for families who face homelessness in the Moscow and Pullman communities, McGarry said.

Volunteers drop off donations for Family Promise of the Palouse. (COURTESY OF ABBY MCGARRY)

People joined the event through the organization’s Facebook livestream and donated through the group’s website, Rivera said.

McGarry said there are two more fundraising events this year. The fundraiser, “Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse,” will be on Dec. 5. “Avenues of Hope” will start on Dec. 10 and end on Dec. 31.

Family Promise of the Palouse started serving families seven years ago when they opened in 2013, she said.

The mission is to serve homeless families and end homelessness on the Palouse, she said. The nonprofit is connected with 20 different religious congregations. The members use an interfaith hospitality model, also implemented by the national organization, called Family Promise.

“Since COVID-19, things have changed, but we do have a day facility where we can provide direct management for the families,” Rivera said.

The group serves both small and large families, including multigenerational families and expectant mothers. However, the nonprofit cannot serve homeless individuals, she said.

One in 30 children experience homelessness, which translates to one child in every classroom, Rivera said.

Family Promise of the Palouse has multiple ways for people to get involved. People can donate supplies, such as toiletries and blankets, or volunteer through their congregation. The nonprofit also is looking for a university student to serve as a board member, Rivera said.

The next Night Without a Bed event will be June 26.