A Community's Passion (October 2021)

The latest from Spur

Dear Friends of Spur,

Our Fall 2021 discretionary granting cycle gave us another front row seat to observe the passion, diverse missions and ambitions that define our local nonprofit sector. From housing and mental health to youth education and community development, it is energizing to see the evolving visions of service these nonprofits have for our valley's future. Thanks to the generosity of those who have donated to Spur's discretionary funds, Spur was able to distribute $80,000 this cycle to five organizations.

You can be a part of these opportunities, too. Here are three initiatives, reflective of the variety of opportunities we considered, that are in need of additional funding:

  • ARCH Community Housing Trust - Capacity Building: ARCH is growing to meet the moment by expanding its internal capacities to take on "workforce housing" projects. These projects are aimed at people who are above the federal definition of "low income" but who are nonetheless unable to afford housing in our valley.
  • Flourish Foundation - Compassionate Leaders Program: The Compassionate Leaders program engages young people in workshops and community service projects where they experience the value of compassion, altruism and human connection. By learning to contribute their time and talent during their high school years, these students are prepared to become future leaders with a lifelong passion for giving back to their community.
  • The Alliance of Idaho - General Support: The Alliance of Idaho provides resources for immigrant communities in the Wood River Valley, including a free, bilingual, confidential hotline for people facing urgent immigration issues. The organization has been managing twice the number of local cases each month as they used to handle in a year. Help is needed to continue their ability to scale this year to meet demand.

If you are interested in learning more about any of these opportunities, we can help or put you in touch with the organizations directly. You can find more information on a few of our grantees and their projects further down in this newsletter, as well as an interview with the director of the Blaine County Charitable Fund, which is in its second year of filling a gap in service to those facing financial hardship.

Housing

Spur continues to closely follow developments in the local housing arena as the community grapples with a lack of options for our valley's workforce. We believe Spur has a role to play as an aggregator of information and capital addressing the need for community housing, current supply, and potential solutions in the Wood River Valley.

One avenue that holds promise is accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or "mother-in-law apartments." The city of Hailey adopted an ordinance enabling ADUs for certain neighborhoods earlier this year, and we are glad to hear the conversation picking up in other cities and at the county level. There are also a variety of new multi-unit construction projects on the drawing board that would increase the inventory of workforce housing units. Spur's Community Housing Fund is open for contributions now so that we can move quickly to support appropriate projects.

Warm Springs Preserve

Passion is also on display in the volume of gifts to the Warm Springs Preserve Fund. We have seen gifts ranging from $7 in cash to $1 million. As of Oct. 24, the total amount received and pledged was $3.4 million. A number of donors have included personal sentiments about what the "dog park" has meant to them and their families over the years.

As we approach the height of the annual giving cycle, particularly for anyone faced with a significant tax-based reason for increased generosity, please remember Spur is available as a resource to assist with strategic local giving.

Most Gratefully,

Sally Gillespie
Executive Director

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Since its creation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, the Blaine County Charitable Fund has provided assistance to more than 300 households in the Wood River Valley experiencing financial hardship, including 103 households so far this year.

Those who apply to the BCCF to help cover the costs of an unanticipated crisis or emergency are eligible to receive assistance following a vetting process. While in the past a majority of applicants were referred to the Fund by other local organizations, the BCCF has begun to see a growing number of applicants who have heard about the Fund through word of mouth in the community, Director and Co-Founder Mary Fauth said.

An estimated 98 percent of households that applied to the BCCF this year received some level of assistance, according to Fauth, with an average grant of $1,500 made in 2021. Of the households receiving assistance in 2021 that responded to a recent survey, 100 percent were able to avoid eviction.

We caught up with Mary to learn more about the BCCF's recent work. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How has the need in our community changed or evolved over the past year?

We have seen an increase in housing-related needs that are driven by a current lack of housing — so they may need a temporary stay at a hotel, or they've located to a month-to-month situation that is still a temporary fix. We may help them with a month of their rent, which allows them to start putting away what they need to secure [more permanent housing] with first, last, deposit, etc.

In general, we do have a number of people with rent increases. That affects their ability to address other things that come up along the way. When people are living close to the edge, they can't pay for the smallest blip of lost work, or a repair for their car.

What do you foresee as the future of the BCCF going forward?

I think we're trying to find the natural rhythm of what the need would be on an ongoing basis. We're still discovering that, while having to work to get the word out in the community of our services. I believe there are many we didn't help in our initial year because they received other sorts of federal assistance or unemployment; however, they remain vulnerable to address future crises.

We are looking at what else we can do, what gaps we can fill to help equalize people who are disadvantaged in our community with knowledge and tools and access to resources. We're exploring some ideas in that direction because we definitely see the people that are in front of us and have a high need — maybe they lack access to credit-building tools, or an understanding of basic skills around finances and other wealth-building or education-building resources. So if there's a way to provide that to the greater public that's not already being offered in our community, we'll be looking at how to do that.

What else would you like the community to know about the BCCF and its work?

While there's so much prosperity in our community and it looks like there's a large rebound for a lot of businesses and people, there's still a large part of our community that will struggle now and into the future and we need to care for them. This is one of the lifelines in our community that will be needed long past COVID.

Spur is proud to have helped support the BCCF's Emergency Financial Assistance Program in 2021 with a $30,000 grant, thanks to the generosity of our donors.

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