Store owners come from tough luck

KENNEWICK — Kennewick business owners John and Stephanie Yrungaray know what it's like to be unemployed during one of the worst recessions in recent history.

Two years ago, the internet startup company John worked for in Utah laid off one third of its employees. He was among them.

The Yrungarays have two young children, and Stephanie was a stay-at-home mom.

"It was scary," she said. "We had some money in savings, but we knew it would potentially be a very long time before we had a paycheck coming in again."

John's job search took seven months and led to the family moving to Kennewick.

"We were incredibly fortunate during my unemployment," he said. "We had to really watch our expenses, but we never went without. But it made us very aware of both how blessed we were and how quickly you can go from being comfortable to being in trouble just by the loss of a job."

Which is why the Yrungarays decided, with Thanksgiving approaching, to give back to the community, which has supported them and their lifelong dream to own their own business — Envy Home Furnishings.

"We were discussing what we could do for the store in November. What could we do that's tied into Thanksgiving to show our gratitude towards the community," she said.

"We talked about some different charities and decided on 2nd Harvest Tri-Cities because we love their mission and that they're a food bank for food banks," she said.

During November, they are setting aside 10 percent of each sale, earmarking it for 2nd Harvest.

"We hope to have a good-sized check to give them at the end of the month," she said.

Kathye Kilgore, director of 2nd Harvest, said demand on food banks is up 20 percent to 50 percent in the Mid-Columbia, all driven by unemployment and the economy.

2nd Harvest has 55 partner agencies, including food banks, soup kitchens and meal centers, in Benton and Franklin counties.

"And those are just the ones affiliated with us. There are many more independent food banks in this area; many of the churches have one," Kilgore said.

"There are a lot of 'reduction in force' folks out there who need help," Kilgore said. "A recent client survey showed that there's more two-parent households where Mom and Dad are both working, but with the costs of food and housing going through the roof, the two ends are not meeting in the middle anymore."

"Often Mom and Dad choose not to eat so their kids can. It just breaks your heart because you don't see it," Kilgore said.

Kilgore said other businesses have donated a portion of their earnings "but sporadically. I'd love to have more contact us to find out how to do it. It doesn't matter how big or how small they are, it all adds up. A single dollar donated to 2nd Harvest can buy 6 pounds of food, the equivalent of four adult meals."

This month you can feel good about purchases at the Yrungaray's store "because when you buy a table you are helping to put food on the table of someone in need," John said.

Envy Home Furnishings is at 6223 W. Deschutes, Suite 201, in the G2 Complex across from Lumber Liquidators in Kennewick. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday. It will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com; more news at www.tricityherald.com