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Agencies raise awareness to assist homeless people

Young people will spend the night of Friday, Oct. 11 in cardboard boxes just like some homeless people in the community.

FamilylPromise Cardboard box
Kasanita Vaea, Lisa Johnson, and Jazmine Zillmer in their 2012 tri-plex.

“It can be a life-changing experience for the youth to experience a night in the life of the homeless,” said Steve Allen,  the new executive director of Family Promise in Spokane.

Along with Family Promise, Mission Community Center and Shalom Ministries are planning the second annual Cardboard Box City to raise funds and increase public awareness of homeless and vulnerable people in the community.

A cardboard box city, occupied by youth from Spokane area churches, will be erected from 5 p.m., Friday Oct. 11 to 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, on the grounds of Highland Park United Methodist Church, 611 S. Garfield.

Before the encampment, the youth will solicit pledges for the night they spend in the makeshift homeless camp to assist the programs of sponsoring agencies to help homeless families become self sufficient.

Sponsors are Family Promise of Spokane, the Mission Community Outreach Center and Shalom Ministries.

Each member of the camp is asked to raise at least $100 in “rent” for the overnight stay.

A soup-line dinner will be served Friday night with live music, testimony and presentations about local homelessness. The event will conclude with a breakfast and clean up on Saturday morning. The Women and Children’s Free Restaurant and Shalom Ministries provide meals.

“The most recent count of the homeless in Spokane identified 1,030 homeless people and more than 100 homeless families,” Mark Kinney, executive director of Mission Outreach Center. “This is an opportunity to be involved and assist these families.”

Family Promise of Spokane is a shelter program operated through a network of 32 churches that host and help host homeless families. It was formerly known as Interfaith Hospitality.

Mission Community Outreach Center is an ecumenical organization providing low-income families with a clothing bank, personal hygiene items and infant care supplies.

Shalom Ministries is a nonprofit urban program providing meals, basic needs services and a clothing bank to Spokane’s downtown community at Central United Methodist Church.

For information, call 747-5487.



Family’s overnight leads to commitment

Once when Cindy Wood, her husband and their two children participated in a Cardboard Box City, she felt proud they could experience helping other people. 

“We set up our cardboard box early in the evening.  It was like camping,” she said.

After dinner, stories and cuddling into their cardboard home, it began raining. 

“Our new home leaked.  We were cold and wet.  Then, my boy got sick.  We did not have a change of clothes.  It was devastating to know there are families in the same situation with no options,” she said.  “We slept in our car.  I became even more dedicated to Family Promise.”

Family Promise of North Idaho will hold its fifth annual Cardboard Box City to raise funds and awareness of the plight of homeless families from 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11, to 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Lake City Community, 6000 N. Ramsey Rd.

The January 2013 homeless count found 74 families in Coeur d’Alene without homes. 

“Our mission is to serve homeless families with children and empower them to achieve sustainable housing,” said Cindy, executive director of Family Promise of North Idaho (FPNI).

“Would you give up your bed for one night if doing so could change someone’s life?  Every night in our community families have no place to call home,” she said.  “Serving homeless families and empowering them to achieve sustainable housing is our goal.” 

FPNI uses a network of local churches and volunteers to provide shelter, meals, and hope to guests with the support of other nonprofits and businesses. 

Boulevards, avenues, streets and courts in the cardboard box city are named for sponsors. 

The evening includes speakers, entertainment, fellowship, snacks and prizes for raising the most money, groups with the most people, the most creative house, the most durable house and more.

For information, call 208-660-2732 or visit

Copyright © October 2013 - The Fig Tree