February 14, 2008 in City

Fulfilling dreams, one month at a time

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Kippy Jones, left, jokes with friends Cherie Moss, right, and Nikki Rabey after a meeting Wednesday at the East Central Community Center, where Jones is completing an internship for her degree at Spokane Falls Community College.
(Full-size photo)

To buy

People interested in buying a calendar can contact Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs at (509) 456-7106.

Kippy Jones is Miss June in the 2008 “Dreams” calendar, but it’s not what you might think.

The calendar features 12 homeless individuals and families in a fundraising effort to draw attention to the problem of homelessness in Spokane. The title refers to the subjects’ dreams of escaping homelessness and living more stable lives.

Jones is one of the success stories. After being homeless three times in 10 years and losing custody of her children, she turned her life around. She’s on track to receive her associate’s degree in social work at Spokane Falls Community College and plans to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees, then work in the field. She lives in a four-bedroom apartment with her children and is interning with Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs to help other homeless people.

“It’s been kinda cool because when I’m down at the Thursday sack dinner for the homeless, there’s a couple of people we feed that are in the calendar,” said Jones, who is 45. “When they see me as a success story, I hope it gives them hope. I’d like to think it does.”

The calendar costs $10, with the money going to SNAP’s homeless programs. SNAP worked with SFCC to create the calendar, with students photographing and interviewing. Graphic design students produced the professional-looking, glossy calendar.

“I met with some individuals who were homeless, and that was a wonderful experience,” said Chris Balcom, who is 28 and just completed his associate’s degree in gerontology at SFCC. “They have such passion for each other. That really touched me. People go through life rich, middle-class or poor, but to me, these were the most humble, sweet-hearted people I’ve met in my life.”

Bob Peeler, a senior family development specialist for SNAP, said the agency based the calendar on one made in Seattle. Each month shows an individual or family, explains the circumstances of their homelessness and reveals some of their dreams: to be in stable housing, to give their children a happy childhood, to eliminate debt, to go to college. Each month also contains statistics about homelessness and tips on how to help.

“We basically wanted a look of Spokane to it, but also to show that ‘homeless’ comes in different shapes and sizes,” Peeler said. “It’s not just the guy on the street. It’s also families. It was a good learning experience for the students, who probably have very limited contact with the homeless.”

Jones hopes to graduate from SFCC in June with social service and chemical dependency degrees. She plans to begin work toward a bachelor’s degree at Whitworth University in the fall.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” she said with a laugh. “You have to have the need and the want to change.”

SNAP and SFCC ordered 300 calendars and have sold more than 200. The money has been used by SNAP as “discretionary funds,” Peeler said, helping homeless clients buy bus passes, shoes, gasoline and other essentials. Though sales have been good, the calendars didn’t arrive until the last week of December. Peeler said he hopes to do the project again and receive the finished products earlier.

“If we’d have gotten them done in November, we would have sold them out in no time,” Peeler said. “It’s just a way of getting the word back out to people – we’re doing what we can, but there’s still a need.”

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