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Compassionate acts restore faith in humanity

The nation is pretty grumpy these days. Cynicism is running high. Political polarization has hampered civil discourse. Anger abounds.

It’s difficult to be positive about much of anything, but good people are still out there grinding away at tough problems and turning compassion into solutions. If the measure of a society is how it treats the least among us, there are some hopeful signs close to home.

On Monday, the city of Spokane announced it had housed 102 young homeless people in 100 days with the help of organizations such as SNAP, Catholic Charities, Excelsior Youth Center. A Way Home Washington, a statewide group, organized the effort, with financial support from the Schultz Family Foundation and the Raikes Foundation.

Along with housing, the recipients will be been connected to services such as family counseling and job training. Young homeless people can be tough to reach, because many prefer to “couch surf” or fly under the radar. The city hopes this effort helps it land a transitional service center for this population.

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities is building 316 apartments for the homeless, the elderly and struggling families on land near the Spokane River, east of Spokane Falls Community College. The site, called Holy Names Haven, used to be a convent.

Catholic Charities has built four other apartment complexes for the homeless in its remarkable effort to see that homeless people get the stability of a permanent address. The city also benefits from this “housing first” effort, because it costs more to police the homeless than it does to house them. Residents are encouraged – but not forced – to access services to help people get back on their feet.

The Holy Names Haven project includes Rising Strong, a Catholic Charities and Inland Health Foundation partnership that provides housing to parents who might otherwise lose their children to the foster care system.

The feel-good news doesn’t end there.

Catholics, Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists recently teamed up to move 200 bed frames and mattresses into Pope Francis Haven, a recently completed apartment complex in the Spokane Valley for the homeless.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided $50,200 for the bedding after the Spokane Valley Stake asked Catholic Charities how it could help. Seventh-day Adventists run a nearby garden to feed impoverished people.

Then there is 13-year-old Cooper Cervelli of Nine Mile Falls, who for his Eagle Scout project, collected an astonishing 562 pieces of furniture for the Catholic Charities Furniture Bank. The furniture goes to the recently homeless and other low-income families. Cooper has worked every day for many months distributing fliers and delivering furniture to the bank, with help from his father.

Extraordinary acts of compassion occur every day, and most of them don’t make headlines. Just something to remember when your faith in humanity begins to wane.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on “Opinion.”


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