Helping Works

Anna Webb: Interfaith Sanctuary gathers in remembrance of lost friends

The Interfaith Sanctuary staff and friends will once again gather to honor the lives of individuals who died while homeless or recently housed this past year. The annual memorial observation is a tradition among Boise community service providers and is held in conjunction with the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Boise is one of more than 175 cities nationwide to observe the memorial. This year’s memorial is on Dec. 22.
The Interfaith Sanctuary staff and friends will once again gather to honor the lives of individuals who died while homeless or recently housed this past year. The annual memorial observation is a tradition among Boise community service providers and is held in conjunction with the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Boise is one of more than 175 cities nationwide to observe the memorial. This year’s memorial is on Dec. 22.

Winter solstice, this year on Dec. 22, marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year and the true beginning of winter. It’s also the day when the staff and residents of the Interfaith Sanctuary have traditionally gathered to honor the lives of local men and women who died while homeless or recently housed.

This year’s vigil will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Interfaith Sanctuary, 1620 W. River St. in Boise. The Corpus Christi Day Shelter at 525 S. Americana Blvd. will be open for people to gather immediately following the service. Note, parking is only available on Americana or the neighboring streets. The service will take place outdoors. Dress warm.

Idaho nonprofits ramp up for statewide homelessness prevention campaign

Idaho Housing and Finance Association’s Home Partnership Foundation is launching the fifth annual Avenues For Hope Housing Challenge running through Dec. 31. The campaign will help 34 nonprofits across the state of Idaho raise funds to help the homeless and those in need of housing assistance.

Donors can designate where they want their contributions to go when they donate online at Donations can also go to the Enhance the Match Fund, which helps provide matching funds to stretch donor dollars further. Idaho Housing and the other businesses sponsoring the campaign are also contributing up to $200,000 this year in matching funds, and challenge grant prizes.

In the five years since its inception, Avenues for Hope has raised over $650,000 from donors and corporate sponsors.

Avenues For Hope is sponsored by Idaho Housing and Finance Association in conjunction with Academy Mortgage Corp., Bank of Commerce, Bank of Idaho, Bank of the Cascades, Barclays, Citizens Community Bank, Evergreen Home Loans, First Mortgage Company, Guild Mortgage Company, Idaho Independent Bank, KeyBank, Mountain West Bank and Wells Fargo.

Here are the participating organizations in Southwest Idaho: Advocates Against Family Violence, Canyon County Habitat for Humanity, CATCH, Inc. Charitable Assistance to Community’s Homeless), Corpus Christi House, Inc., Good Samaritan Home, Home Partnership Foundation, Hope House, Inc., Idaho Youth Ranch, Inc., Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services, International Rescue Committee, Neighborhood Housing Services Inc., The Jesse Tree of Idaho, The Salvation Army, Women’s & Children’s Alliance.

Nonprofit coffee house will benefit orphans

Child Help International, a Caldwell nonprofit, helps churches build and maintain homes for children in needy communities. Executive director Nate Banta was working on such a project in Kenya in 2014 when he got the idea to open a coffee house to help raise money for his organization.

He attended barista training in Kenya, then began researching to find the best nonprofit coffee roasters that pay their staffs well and channel proceeds back into their communities. CHI Coffee opened in September on the lower floor of the Child Help International offices at 1803 S. 10th Ave in Caldwell. Banta describes the menu as “European barista with a streak of soda jerk.”

The shop offers a range of coffee drinks, many inspired by the flavors Banta has encountered during his travels, including the “Mombassa mocha,” inspired by Indian chai. Patrons pay for their coffee by donation. As a nonprofit, Banta offers a suggested price, but coffee lovers are free to give more or less as they see fit.

The shop has gotten off to a slow start, said Banta, “but we’re getting more and more people in as the community learns what we’re doing ... we offer something different and special that other coffee shops don’t,” he said.

If you drink a cup of Ugandan coffee at the shop, you can know that proceeds support projects for kids and clean water. If you drink a Honduras-sourced cup, you can know that you’re helping support homes for widows and impoverished families. If tea’s your drink, your donation will support building wells in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The coffee house is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, email Banta at

Silver Sage Region Porsche Club of America gets bookish

Each year, the club chooses a local charity and members volunteer to raise money for the cause. This year, Book it Forward! Idaho is the beneficiary of the $14,260 raised by Porsche enthusiasts. The organization collects new and gently used books, cleans and sorts them, and gets them into the hands of kids who need them. The donation will pay for more outdoor collection boxes, for the construction and placement of more Little Libraries where people can take and borrow books. The donation will also pay for more shelving and book storage space for the organization and for more dual language books for readers of all levels.

If you’d like to donate books to Book it Forward! Idaho, you’ll find collection boxes at the Downtown Family YMCA, the West Y, United Way at 3100 S. Vista Blvd. and the Idaho Nonprofit Center at 5257 W. Fairview Ave. The Cabin at 801 S. Capitol Blvd. will also accept donations.

If you’d like to know more about the Silver Sage Region Porsche Club, visit the website at

Generosity starts early at Parkcenter Montessori

Kudos to the kids and families at Parkcenter Montessori in Boise. Preschool students (with a little help from family, friends and teachers, we’re guessing) collected more than 350 pounds of food that will go to the Idaho Foodbank.

Community donates 1,400 suits to Boise Rescue Mission

Clothesline cleaners just wrapped up the major suit drive for Boise Rescue Mission that brought in the 1,400 suits. Clothesline cleaned and pressed each donated suit. They’ll be given to men and women staying at the Mission who are applying for jobs.

Currently, close to half of the people at the Mission are employed. But in many cases, they don’t make enough money to pay for rent and other expenses, so are staying at the shelter. For more information about the Mission, the suit drive, or other ways to help, call Jason Billester at 208-761-9829, or email

Local seniors donate food, give back to community

Residents and staff of Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village recently spent their day packing baked beans, oatmeal, peanut butter, pasta sauce, hash browns, canned tuna and more into boxes bound for Pierce Park Elementary School and Covenant Presbyterian in Meridian. The donated food will go to families and others in need. Touchmark’s food box donation is one of the community’s longstanding holiday traditions, say staffers.

The residents at Touchmark don’t limit their donations to the holidays, but collect food year-round for the Meridian Food Bank. In 2015, the retirement community donated 930 pounds of food to the volunteer-run charity. In addition to its food-drive focus, Touchmark donates proceeds from its annual classic car show to a local nonprofit. In 2015, it donated more than $880 to the Wyakin Warrior Foundation.

A volunteer’s story

This is an ongoing feature in the Helping Works column. If you’d like to share your story about volunteering, email it to Please include a photograph (JPEG format) of yourself.

From Judith Menger, Meridian

I have volunteered at the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa for almost 11 years. I am an interviewer of veterans for the Library of Congress’s Veteran’s History Project. The Warhawk is one of the biggest contributors of interviews for this program. I do it in honor of my father who was a WWII soldier and recipient of the Purple Heart. He is no longer here to tell his story and I wish I had been able to record his military story.

My great-great grandfather (Civil War veteran), grandfather (WWI veteran) as well as my husband (retired U.S. Army) and my two children (U.S. Army) have also inspired me to record veterans’ interviews.

I do my job so that other families will have a recorded history in the veteran’s own words to keep long after the veteran is no longer with us and to help preserve history in its purest form.

The Warhawk Air Museum is at 201 Municipal Way in Nampa, 208-465-6446. Visit the website to find more about volunteer opportunities if you think the Warhawk is a fit for you.