Our Voice: We're grateful for those who build homes and lives

July 2, 2014 

CBVC Richland Home

Joetta Rupert, executive director of the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition, and Edgar Rivera, a former Marine corporal, sit in the group’s transitional home in Richland. The coalition’s tax exempt status was returned to them by the IRS, allowing donations to be tax deductible.

MATT GADE — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Habitat planning

The impending deterioration of a child's health must be hard to work through. Aside from steeling herself emotionally, Rene Martinez also is preparing for the physical challenges that certainly will come her daughter Sofia's way.

Batten disease already has claimed her vision. In the next few years, it also will take her mobility and, eventually, her life.

There is no cure.

But helpers like those from Habitat for Humanity will make the transition easier.

The organization funded and built a wheelchair ramp in anticipation of Sofia's upcoming needs. The project joined members of three churches and a group of Areva employees. Areva also donated the materials.

The volunteer spirit is alive and strong in the Mid-Columbia. Projects like this give us an appreciation of what other people go through and give us the opportunity to work together with people outside of our normal associations.

The group also is considering what else they can do to help the family.

The price tag on the ramp was $4,000. It will be a great help to the family. It also is a benefit to the lives of the volunteers.

Some things are out of our control. But even in those situations, there often is a way we can help each other.

Habitat for Humanity builds houses and lives with its ongoing projects. To get involved, go to the organization's web page at www.habitatbuilds.com.

Regaining lost status

Much like a tarnished reputation, it's hard to make some things right again.

In a case of he-said-she-said between a local veterans group and the IRS, the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition is out about $100,000 but has regained its nonprofit status.

That's the good news.

The status was pulled when the IRS said it hadn't received annual reports that the coalition says it submitted.

Without the ability for donors to claim their gifts as a tax donation, it became difficult to solicit funds.

So not only has the tax exempt status been returned for future gifts, previous donations can be deducted retroactively.

To the community's credit, even when the coalition was struggling to regain its nonprofit status, some donations continued to come in, even though the group opted not to do a fundraiser until the matter was resolved.

The coalition provides a transitional home for veterans and helps them to navigate the system of benefits after their return.

These are important services, and we're glad to see the coalition is able to keep making headway on its quest.

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