Avenues for Hope Campaign raising funds to alleviate a housing crisis that will be compounded due to COVID-19 pandemic
Volunteers from St. Vincent de Paul regularly visit clients to check in on their well-being and make an assessment to provide for their needs. (Courtesy photo/Grant Breidenbach)
By Emily Woodham
Idaho Catholic Register
Eradicating homelessness has always been a goal for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. But the challenge will become even more daunting after the first of the year when government-imposed moratoriums on evictions to help people during the pandemic are set to expire.
The Avenues for Hope Campaign helps St. Vincent de Paul and other nonprofits in their mission to assist those who are homeless or in crisis. Using an online platform for donations, the campaign enables St. Vincent de Paul to raise funds to help families and individuals avoid homelessness. For those who do become homeless, the campaign helps them to secure shelter and, eventually, affordable housing.
“Forty percent of Idahoans are living paycheck to paycheck without a safety net,” said Grant Breidenbach, marketing director for St. Vincent de Paul Southwest Idaho in Boise. “Just one small or medium financial crisis can send a family into the spiral of homelessness. St. Vincent de Paul believes in providing assistance before that spiral even begins, while people are still in their homes.”
Although individuals and businesses are mired by the impact of COVID, they continue to give help to those less fortunate, said Larry Riley, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho in Coeur d'Alene. "People have not lost sight of the most needy among us," he said.
From its headquarters, the HELP (Helping Empower Local People) Center, St. Vincent de Paul North provides more than 20,000 social services annually, including shelter, food, clothing and low-income housing. Its outreach includes veterans, the elderly and those with mental health challenges.
St. Vincent de Paul Southwest responded to more than 8,800 requests for assistance last year, according to Breidenbach. “We were able to help more than 24,000 people stay financially stable, continue in their home and maintain a viable lifestyle.”
"The services we provide are possible only through financial generosity," he said. The ability of staff and volunteers of St. Vincent de Paul to respond to requests for help comes through donors, he said.
Avenues for Hope is sponsored by the Home Partnership Foundation of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, with corporations giving additional sponsorship to match donations. The campaign began on Dec. 10 and runs through Thursday, Dec. 31. Each nonprofit has its own page for donations on avenuesforhope.org.
The Avenues for Hope fundraiser is “unique and wonderful,” Breidenbach said, because corporate sponsors provide prizes and matching gifts to organizations who can expand the number of their respective donors. The corporate incentives result in an increase of individual donations by as much as 50 to 100 percent, Breidenbach said.
With many fundraising events cancelled because of the pandemic, helping families and individuals through Avenues for Hope is especially important, said north Idaho’s Riley.
“For people to think about others, when they’re struggling themselves, is incredibly humbling. The Christmas season is definitely going to be different this year. Having Avenues for Hope by our side to help keep us from falling is very rewarding.”