It’s a common complaint that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Yet over the course of April, volunteers throughout Spokane and the county came together and gave about 12 years of their time during the fourth annual Spokane Gives charity initiative.
Mayor David Condon announced Monday that this year’s Spokane Gives month, the biggest yet since the city launched the initiative in 2014 as a weeklong venture, saw nearly 18,000 volunteers spend more than 100,000 hours working with nonprofits, faith communities and schools on projects ranging from homelessness to community beautification.
In front of a small garden hidden at the back of a parking lot across from the Northeast Youth Center, where Condon said he and his children worked one weekend unloading soil, the mayor said the Spokane Gives initiative garnered roughly $2.5 million worth of economic impact that is estimated to come from the volunteers’ work. The city arrived at this number by using the federal standard that values a volunteer hour at $24.14, Condon said.
“The Spokane community stepped up in a very big way,” he said.
Tim Henkel, the president and CEO of Spokane County United Way, and Dani Gray, the chairwoman of the Inland Northwest Service-Learning Partnership (INSLP), also highlighted the success of the month of charity. Both United Way and INSLP, which is a regional cooperative between institutes of higher education and community partners, have worked with the city to coordinate volunteer work, expand the program’s outreach to volunteers, and fund and distribute small grants that help offset some of the costs nonprofits face in leading a project.
Twenty-three grants were awarded to community projects, including the Spokane Community Health and Resource Fair. Launched by INSLP and local nonprofits, the fair allowed students to use their medical knowledge to give free health assessments, connect families with health resources and offer free vaccinations courtesy of a project grant. Grants can be up to as much as $500.
Other projects included Cleaning from the Corridor, where city employees and volunteers picked up trash and beautified parts of the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood along Monroe Street with murals, and a new donation drive that collected thousands of necessary items for homeless residents.
Condon also gave special acknowledgment to three people who he said significantly contributed to Spokane Gives this year, presenting them with certificates and a special coin recognizing their role “in making Spokane the city of choice of the Northwest.” Those recognized included Anthony Carollo of the Greater Spokane Evangelical Association and Daneka Keith of United Way. .
However, the impact of Spokane Gives stretches beyond the month of April, Henkel said. Since 2014, every year has brought more volunteers and helped build out a volunteer network that is active throughout the year, he said.
Coordinated by United Way, those interested in volunteering can go to VolunteerSpokane.org to find a volunteer project that connects with them, he said.
“That’s who we are and what we do,” Henkel said. “We’re about change, and we’re about trying to see in what we do that we can create that lasting change.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.