Support the United Good Neighbors fund drive

Every dollar stays here

Leader Editorial Board
Posted 12/18/19

You don’t have to make a big gift to United Good Neighbors to make a significant difference in the life of a neighbor in need.

Just ask John Cantlon at St. Vincent de Paul, who has worked …

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Support the United Good Neighbors fund drive

Every dollar stays here

Posted

You don’t have to make a big gift to United Good Neighbors to make a significant difference in the life of a neighbor in need.

Just ask John Cantlon at St. Vincent de Paul, who has worked for the last 12 years with the needy and the homeless in Jefferson County.

He often answers the phone to discover someone without a car who just needs a bus pass to get to town for food or other necessities of life. “The overwhelming amount of the help we give is maybe a little bit of food and a little bit of gas,” he said recently.

In fact, he said, every time his organization has sat down to calculate the average amount they spend on every call for help from a family or person in need it comes to about $100, which means there are a lot of $10 and $25 solutions to problems of people in poverty who turn to St. Vincent de Paul.

And Cantlon said small gifts do more than just fill hungry bellies. “The main thing that we give is hope. That’s the intangible that comes for whatever the price.”

That’s where you come in, Good Neighbors. Your donations large and small add up to solutions for people facing what seem to them like impossible obstacles.

Fortunately, Jefferson County has a long tradition of pitching in to improve the lives of others.

“I am blown away by the generosity of the community,” said Alecia Kleiner, who is managing this year’s United Good Neighbors fund drive. “At this really tough time in this country I’m renewed by seeing people want to take care of each other.”

She said moving here after 30 years in Seattle, where problems of homelessness and poverty began to feel unmanageable, has changed her mindset. “It feels like we can make a tangible difference and it’s renewing my faith in community.”

“I met a young dad when I was out doing a ride-along with St. Vincent dePaul, who needed gasoline. He’s been out of work. Hurt on the job. A single dad with a toddler. We gave him a $25 voucher. He said, ‘This will really help because I can actually get to the food bank this week.’ Things like that, you don’t even think about.’”

Individual donors have already given $100,000 of the $150,000 goal.

“We have such a wide range,” Kleiner said. “People who give $2 per check who work at the hospital all the way up to someone who gave $10,000 in honor of their mother.”

Another donor, who had already given $4,000, heard the Welcoming Center needed to open its doors three weeks early on account of the early onset of cold weather and gave another $1,000, covering more than a week of those early operations.

Mostly, though, the United Good Neighbors drive is built on smaller checks that arrive in response to the Give Jefferson campaign that launched last month with a mail-out donation form.

But if you lost or didn’t receive the mailer, it’s easy to go to the United Good Neighbors website and make a secure online donation.

Kleiner said she is starting to see significant numbers of donations from retirees’ IRAs, to satisfy the federal government’s requirement that people over 70½ make minimum distributions each year or face penalties.

And, the group is working hard to ensure every corner of the county feels included, from south to north. “This year we identified five organizations that work in the south county and we highlighted them on the poster, just to remind people: Dove House, the food banks, Weekend Nutrition, YMCA literacy, and Kaleidoscope Play and Learn all work in the south county.”

“We want people to feel connected to where they’re giving their money and we want the south county to feel they’re being served.”

Kleiner said she had just opened a $10 donation from a woman in Brinnon, who wrote “I would like to give in honor of my father, who would help out anyone in need. Love you Dad.”

-Dean Miller

The Leader’s Editorials are the opinion of the Editorial Board: Publisher Lloyd Mullen; co-owner Louis Mullen; Editor Dean Miller and Leader readers who lobby The Leader. Each editorial is signed by the person who writes that editorial on behalf of the Editorial Board.

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