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Fighting homelessness luncheon raises more than $65,000 for KITH
Kirkland and the Eastside community made an impact for the homeless, raising more than $65,000 at KITH’s 3rd Annual Fighting Homelessness Luncheon on March 9 at The Woodmark Hotel.
During the pre-luncheon reception, Carol Nelson and Ruthie Smith presented a check for $5000 to KITH’s Executive Director, Jan Dickerman. The gift is a grant from Opus Community Foundation to help fund Welcome Home, a one-year KITH program that helps a homeless family move into an apartment of their choice, and provides rent subsidy and case management as the family rebuilds their foundation in order to assume full rent at the end of the program.
Eastside 2011 Small Business of the Year, Lakeside Collision Center of Bellevue, sponsored the event. The Woodmark Hotel, Julia’s Floral, and TekDigital Print and Document Services provided in-kind support.
Emcee Larry Kaminer of Personal Safety Training Group kept the 95 minute luncheon program flowing. “There is no safety for the homeless,” Kaminer said. Luncheon chair Claudia Ollestad of Chicago Title Insurance introduced keynote speaker Matthew Gardner.
Gardner said, “I give many talks every year, and this speech is by far the most difficult I’ve given, because the economic statistics represent real people, real homeless children, in our community.” He predicted that the economy will improve, but reminded the audience that we are doing well compared to many other parts of the country, well enough to consider the needs of others.
Dickerman shared the 85 percent success rate of KITH’s 2011 transitional housing program. She told the audience that the KITH Board has formed a Housing Committee and the organization is researching ideas on how to increase housing stock or develop partnerships in order to have the ability to serve more families.
“KITH is in the right place at the right time to make a difference for homeless families.”
KITH’s client Monica told luncheon guests that she and her son hid their homelessness from school friends, work associates and even family members. “After the medical bills from my husband’s cancer (that took his life), we couldn’t afford rent. The hardest thing was telling my son we had to move out of our home.”
They lived “from place to place,” keeping clean and keeping their things in storage, sleeping in the car, and keeping their hope alive. C.J. Kahler and Lisa Kennedy of the Rotary Club of Sammamish challenged luncheon guests to consider those in greatest need.
Brian Martens of Burnstead Construction was honored as the 2012 Bill Petter Homeless Housing Advocate, for his work to recruit a team of volunteers and vendors who remodeled two apartments at KITH’s Salisbury Court property in March.
“I’ve done some research on Bill Petter after learning what kind of impact he had on this community, I am humbled to receive this recognition,” said Martens. Bill’s grandson Ben Petter presented the award.
With the inspiration of the Bill Petter Angel Matching Fund, this year’s Fighting Homelessness Luncheon revenue increased 133 percent over last year’s event, raising more than $65,000 to support KITH programs, which help homeless families on the Eastside to secure and retain stable housing.
For more information about KITH, founded in 1989 as Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing, visit www.kithcares.org.