Gesa fundraiser brings in more than $53,000 for Safe Harbor, My Friends Place

Tri-City HeraldJuly 15, 2014 

A fundraiser through Gesa Credit Union has brought in more than $53,000 for Safe Harbor Support Center and its teen shelter program My Friends Place.

Gesa launched the fundraiser earlier this month after Safe Harbor leaders announced the Kennewick nonprofit was in danger of closing because of financial difficulties. Gesa pledged to match up to $15,000 in donations from the community made before July 18.

As of the end of Monday, more than $38,000 has been donated, bringing the total with Gesa’s match to more than $53,000, the credit union announced.

“It is inspiring to live and work in a community that is willing to come together to support a necessary nonprofit like Safe Harbor Support Center,” said Don Miller, Gesa president and CEO, in a news release. “We’re proud to show the credit union difference in action. We’re people helping people.”

People still can donate to Safe Harbor through Gesa by calling the credit union or going to any branch. Gesa will deliver donations made before July 21.

Safe Harbor provides support for children dealing with trauma, as well as outreach, support and training for families. My Friends Place is the only shelter for homeless teens in the Tri-Cities and the region. It welcomes an average of 8 to 12 youths a night.

Finances already were tight for Safe Harbor, but then it took a revenue hit of more than $150,000 because of some changes at the state level, leaders said.

They hoped to raise $30,000 to make it through the next few months while they worked to restore the funding.

Mark Lee, president of the Safe Harbor board, told the Herald on Tuesday that the response has been remarkable — and his group is grateful.

“We’re overwhelmed and incredibly appreciative of a community that’s so willing to support youth in need,” he said.

Another $6,400-or-so was raised through other avenues, including a www.gofundme.com site, and Lee said it’s possible more money may be coming in from other groups. He also noted that some fundraising events are in the works.

The financial struggles haven’t been easy to deal with. But Lee said a silver lining is that the community has become more aware of the reality of youth homelessness in the area and is responding to help.

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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