Helping Works

Community gathers for World Refugee Day

Boise and the community beyond will once again gather to celebrate World Refugee Day, Saturday at Boise City Hall. The public is welcome to join the festivities, which include a naturalization ceremony, live performances and a soccer match at Ann Morrison Park.
Boise and the community beyond will once again gather to celebrate World Refugee Day, Saturday at Boise City Hall. The public is welcome to join the festivities, which include a naturalization ceremony, live performances and a soccer match at Ann Morrison Park. Statesman file

Refugees began coming to Idaho in 1975 after then-Gov. John Evans established a refugee assistance program to help resettle refugees fleeing Southeast Asia in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. While that program focused mainly on refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, it expanded and diversified greatly over the decades. Idaho and the Treasure Valley have become home to refugees from around the world, including large numbers of Eastern Europeans fleeing Soviet regimes.

During the 1990s, Idaho resettled over 5,000 refugees, the largest numbers arriving from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also Africa, the Near East, and other regions. In the 2000s, Idaho has become home to refugees from Iraq, Congo, Burma, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries.

On Saturday, June 18, all citizens will have the chance to celebrate the community’s growing diversity during World Refugee Day at Boise City Hall. The day will begin with a citizenship ceremony and music performances from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Then, the party moves to Ann Morrison Park, Fields 3 and 4, for the World Refugee Day Soccer Friendly.

Find more information on the World Refugee Day Boise Facebook page or at

Boise celebrates Pride

This week’s 26th annual Pridefest events have been leading up to Saturday, June 18, when the community will gather at 11 a.m. for a Pride Rally on the Idaho State Capitol steps. The Pride Parade begins from there at 11:30 a.m., followed by the Pride Festival in Capitol Park. Other events include a Kick-Off Party on Friday, and After Party on Saturday and more events still in the works. Find a full listing and more details (including the Glow with Pride Diversity Prom for LGBTQ youth and allies ages 14-20) online at

Interfaith Sanctuary has hot weather needs

The shelter, which serves homeless men, women and families in Boise’s River Street neighborhood, is asking for donations of items that can help people without shelter beat the heat. Needed items include: reusable water bottles, flip-flop sandals in all sizes, instant ice tea, sunscreen, aloe vera lotion, 8-ounce plastic cups, lip balm and deodorant.

If you’d like to help, drop items at the shelter, 1620 W. River St. in Boise from 6 to 8 p.m. (if you’re heading south on 16th Street/Americana, turn in front of A2O Fitness and pull into the main gates. Ask for the shift manager on duty. You can also take donations to the shelter’s development office, 3350 W. Americana Terrace, Ste. 320 in Boise between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Mike Journee, spokesman for the Boise Mayor’s Office, said the city will open a heat shelter at the Pioneer Neighborhood Community Center on Ash Street later this summer when temperatures are at their highest. Details are still in the works. We’ll keep you posted.

Community steps up for Robert Manwill

Robert Manwill was a 9-year-old boy who died from child abuse in Boise in 2009. The community of New Plymouth, where Robert attended school, has committed to an annual silent art auction that will take place each year until 2019, the year Robert would have graduated from high school. The annual auction raises money for a scholarship fund that will go to some of his classmates in 2019.

Organizer Katy Belanger, an art teacher, said that this year’s auction, which took place in April, raised more than $10,000, which has helped the scholarship fund grow to around $36,000.

A memorial fun run that takes place the day after the auction is also dedicated to Robert. It raises money for members of the current graduating class at New Plymouth High. This year, the run raised more than $1,200, which will go to two graduates.

Belanger is looking forward to upcoming auctions. “So far, this has really been an event directed by God ... I have faith the event will really grow over the next three years.”

After that, said Belanger, “It will be up to the scholarship recipients from Robert’s class to continue his legacy.”

To make a donation or find more information about next year’s event and how to get involved, email Katy Belanger at

A cool grant for the Snow Block

Statesman readers who like inspiring neighborhood projects might recall a past feature on the SNOW (Slightly North of Washington) Block. It’s an alley in Boise’s North End that neighbors transformed into a charming public space complete with cookouts, basketball, movie screenings, free books, holiday parties and more. The project has continued to grow. Linda Whittig, the woman who brought her neighbors together to make the project happen, continues to find creative ways to expand it. Earlier this spring, Whittig applied for what’s known as “The World’s Shortest Grant Application,” sponsored by So Delicious, the company that makes dairy-free treats. Applicants pitch their ideas for enviro-community-healthful projects via Twitter or the company website. That’s right, an entire grant application in 140 characters. Thanks to Whittig’s ability to say a lot with few words, the Snow Block will be getting a $500 “micro grant” to improve lighting.

The Snow Block community alley runs from Heron to Lemp betweet 15th and 16th Streets, “slightly north” of Washington Elementary School’s playground.

Learn more about the So Delicious grants online at

Early call: Boise Art Museum seeks volunteers for Art in the Park

Art in the Park isn’t until this fall (Sept. 9-11 in Julia Davis Park), Boise Art Museum has already started to fill its volunteer rosters for the big event. So if you want to be on the team, whether that’s to be part of the Welcome Center staff, help with accounting, with the Children’s Art Tent, or otherwise, sign up now. The museum welcomes volunteers ages 14 and older unless otherwise noted. Register online. Call the museum at 208-345-8330 for more information.

Club kids hold community rummage sale

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County will hold its first annual community rummage sale from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 at the Moseley Center, 610 E. 42nd St. Garden City. New and gently used merchandise, including jewelry, art/frames, antiques, collectibles, furniture, sporting equipment, holiday and home décor, kitchenware and small appliances, toys, electronics, books and clothing will all be in the mix. Proceeds will support educational and leadership programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs, including the Keystone Club, a community service and leadership program for teens, as well as other programs that benefit 4,000 Ada County kids.

Members of the Keystone Club will help run the sale.

Former Boisean takes new post heading LGBTQ group in Oregon

Amy Herzfeld’s name will be familiar to many Boise and Treasure Valley residents interested in human rights and social justice issues. Herzfeld, 37, a former journalist and graduate of Boise State University, served as executive director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center. In 2011, she moved to Portland to serve as the Oregon state director for Working America, an AFL-CIO affiliated program. Herzfeld was recently named co-executive director for Basic Rights Oregon. Basic Rights is the state’s largest nonprofit gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy group.