Corporations here support various philanthropic causes of their choosing, but business and professional associations also are spearheading efforts to get their members to donate their time and talents to charitable endeavors.
"We do a lot of things in the community, and it isn't just one big annual event," says Joel White, executive officer for Spokane Home Builders Association.
White says SHBA supports multiple local charities. The organization teams up with Habitat for Humanity to provide services and products to help the nonprofit build homes. For example, he says Gold Medal Mechanical, one of its members, often does the plumbing work for Habitat homes.
When members pay their annual dues some of those funds are directed toward charitable projects supported by the association, White says. He says community service isn't a requirement of membership, but participation is encouraged.
One particular service event put on by SHBA is the Where Does Your Home Hurt Project. That project, which has happened annually over the last four years, aims to help community members by fixing up a portion of their home for free, with the work being completed in one week's time.
Deacon Band, president of Band Construction and first vice president and membership committee director of SHBA, was the general contractor on the most recent service project, a home on north Monroe Street.
Band says the nominee for this year's project was an elderly woman who has cancer and was living in a home that was dilapidated. There was an addition on the back of the house that was a combined kitchen, bathroom, and mechanical room, he says.
Band says the team completely tore out the addition and rebuilt it in a week. He says the volunteers put in new cabinets and a skylight, and an individual donated a new, handicapped-accessible bath tub and shower with an estimated $5,000 value. The workers also carpeted and repainted the entire house, and landscaped the surrounding area.
Band says the project equated to a $75,000 to $85,000 donation.
While the association continues to take on such projects, White says it has had to pull back due to the economy in recent years.
"In the past we've done more," White says. "We've just had to scale back our activities in the downturn in the industry."
He says in the past, the association would do events that would raise $20,000 to $30,000 for Wishing Star, an organization that looks to grant wishes to children and young adults between the ages of 3 and 21 who live in the Inland Northwest and have a life-threatening illness.
"I think there are glimmers of hope (of that philanthropic activity rising again), but that's going to depend on the economy, not us," White says. "We can do more for the community when people are buying homes and utilizing our services."
Rob Higgins, executive officer for the Spokane Association of Realtors, says one of the biggest volunteer programs that association supports is the Children's Clubhouse, at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital.
Located on the fourth floor of the children's hospital, the Children's Clubhouse is a resource through Providence that provides an area for children to play while family members receive medical treatment in the hospital complex.
In 2010, the Spokane Association of Realtors began supporting the Children's Clubhouse after it closed due to staffing issues. The Realtors, through then-President Linda Miller, chose to begin staffing the Clubhouse, and now have done so for 2 1/2 years.
"We put that together under Linda's guidance and started by keeping the clubhouse open three days a week. Now we're up to four days a week," Higgins says.
He says roughly 100 association members volunteer at the clubhouse monthly.
The Realtors also hold a food drive annually to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Higgins says in the last few years, the association has partnered with Albertsons, but it has held the food drive for about 30 years in all.
"We used to just go knock on doors and collect food," Higgins says. "Today, we work with Albertsons, primarily in the supermarkets."
The next food drive is planned for Sept. 6 and 7.
Higgins says the association has supported other organizations in the past, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County and Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Of the organization's 1,400-some members, hundreds engage in different volunteer opportunities, some tied to the association and others on an individual basis.
Donna Tikker, area coordinator for the Spokane chapter of the Washington Restaurant Association, says its members here support three entities: Feed Spokane, Spokane Community College Culinary Academy, and ProStart.
She says the association has partnered with Feed Spokane since its inception. Feed Spokane takes leftover food from restaurants and distributes it to about 30 different kitchens in the Spokane area.
With SCC's culinary school, the group also supports four scholarships geared toward students who are on the culinary or hotel restaurant management track. Each scholarship is $500, and Tikker says it has provided those for more than 10 years.
ProStart is a national curriculum program geared toward youth who are interested in a career path in the hospitality industry. Tikker says the association has put money toward that program for almost a decade.
The Spokane chapter of the Washington Restaurant Association holds two fundraisers annually to fund the three charities. The association holds a golf tournament in June and supports the Spokane Cork and Keg Festival in November.
Women business owners
Heather Pieczonka, president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association of Business Owners, says one thing the local chapter has done this year is partner with Transitions, a nonprofit organization that aims to end homelessness and poverty for women and children in Spokane.
"We've formed an alliance to help them with fundraising but also to be a resource for them in the community," Pieczonka says.
When the association installed its new board, the theme for the event was "out with the old, in with the new," she says. It asked members to bring clothes to donate to Our Sister's Closet, a clothing boutique operated through YWCA of Spokane that provides free clothing to women who are looking for employment and are experiencing financial hardship. Pieczonka says the YWCA boutique was chosen because it is frequented by women at Transitions.
NAWBO brings in about 15 speakers a year who discuss various topics related to business, she says. The chapter here has more than 85 members, and Pieczonka says roughly half of those members probably participate in some form of community service.
As mentioned by several association representatives, individual members often pursue their own community service interests separately.
Volunteers in Spokane contributes a total of 10.7 million volunteer hours per year over the span of 2007 and 2010, says Volunteering in America, which compiles data in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
The organization says the four activities in which individuals tend to devote their time to community service are handiwork; leadership and professional development; collecting and distribution of food; and youth mentorship.
Spokane is situated above the national percentage of participation in all four categories.
Associations like SHBA often provide handiwork and building philanthropic services, but Deacon Band's involvement with community service isn't restricted to those tied to the Spokane Home Builders Association.
Once he started taking part in the SHBA-sponsored remodel projects, he says he became acquainted with the Extreme Team, a group of volunteers who do similar remodel projects tied to KXLY-TV and anchor Mark Peterson. The Where Does Your Home Hurt Project is sponsored by SHBA, but Band says the Extreme Team does help out on that annual project.
"The idea is through the people Mark knows and the Spokane social network, which is fairly small, he gets ahold of people who need help," Band says.
Band has been participating in Extreme Team since 2009. He says the volunteer group has done about 30 projects so far.
"We usually start a project on Monday, and in four days, we pretty much pull off what people consider an impossible task," Band says.
He says it's typical to put in 14- to 15-hour work days while volunteering on an Extreme Team project.
"Sometimes, when you're tired and trying to figure everything out, you make some pretty cool things happen," he says.
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