Kennewick's Windermere donates $25,000 to six Tri-City charities

Tri-City Herald Staff WriterApril 29, 2014 

The Tri-Cities lost to Spokane in a Facebook voting race for a $25,000 donation through the Windermere Foundation Charity Challenge.

But six Mid-Columbia nonprofits still won, thanks to $25,000 donated by Windermere Real Estate/Tri-Cities of Kennewick.

That will be enough to buy 20,000 diapers, provide low-income families with personal hygiene and home cleaning supplies, help homeless women and children find housing, and support a family in a transitional housing program for a year, among other causes.

Dave Retter, owner and broker of the Kennewick Windermere franchise, announced the donations Tuesday during the company's weekly sales meeting.

"We put a lot of effort into that, but it was a loss," Retter said of the Facebook contest. "I don't like to lose."

The donations will benefit Community Action Connections of Pasco, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery of Kennewick, teen homeless shelter My Friends Place of Kennewick, Elijah Family Homes transitional housing program of Richland, the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission and the Tri-Cities Diaper Bank.

Win or lose, the Kennewick Windermere franchise had already committed to donating $12,000 to be split among the charities through the charity challenge. Tuesday's announcement more than doubled that amount. Each of the six charities received $4,166.

The original $12,000 comes from $7.50 from each transaction the Kennewick franchise closes, Retter said. That goes to the Windermere Foundation, and is returned to be donated in the local community. The additional $13,000 came from the company.

Community Action Connections will use the donation to cover necessities for low-income families that other funding doesn't support, said Judith Gidley, the nonprofit's executive director.

It will help provide welcome home kits to homeless families, which include dishes and silverware, pots and pans, and cleaning supplies that food stamps do not cover, she said. It also will help provide personal hygiene kits, with items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, toothpaste, combs and shampoo.

The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission will use the donation to support the services provided to women and children who seek shelter, said Andrew Porter, the mission's executive director.

In the past five years, the number of women and children needing help has climbed by 200 percent, he said. In response, they've gone from one employee to four full-time employees dedicated to helping homeless women and their families.

Last year, the mission helped 198 homeless women get housing for themselves and their children, many times with the help of other local agencies, he said.

For Elijah Family Homes, the donation is just about large enough to cover the cost of supporting one of the 10 families in the nonprofit's transitional housing program for one year. It helps families who don't qualify for public housing but have been clean and sober for at least a year.

While in the program, families work to improve their jobs and their education, said Ellen Kathren, executive director. Eight families have graduated so far from the program, which started about eight years ago as a ministry of Christ the King Catholic Church in Richland. It became a separate nonprofit about six years ago.

For the Tri-Cities Diaper Bank, $4,166 is enough to pay for about 20,000 diapers, said Renee Martin, program director.

Last year, the organization provided 360,000 diapers to about 8,000 children in the Tri-Cities, Martin said. Many of the diapers are distributed through other charities that help low-income families, including Elijah Family homes and Community Action Connections. This year, the diaper bank, started in 2011, hopes to provide even more.

Eric Shadle, Richland Seventh-Day Adventist Church senior pastor, said the diaper bank really only provides about 25 percent of the need -- enough diapers for a child for one week each month. About one-third of families with diaper-age kids have to decide between diapers and food.

Cloth diapers aren't an option, because many lack access to a washer and dryer, and those diapers can't be washed at laundromats, Shadle said. Some families will delay changing diapers or wash the disposable ones, creating a health risk.

A diaper drive is scheduled outside the Pasco Walmart from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to help local families.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512;

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