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Avenues for Hope fundraising for Jesse Tree, other housing nonprofits

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Posted at 3:16 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 18:12:52-05

TREASURE VALLEY, Idaho — Every December, Idaho nonprofits come together to hold a fundraising campaign.

This week is the final week of this year's Avenues for Hope fundraiser. Over a million dollars has been raised so far for nearly 90 nonprofits, including several in the Treasure Valley like Jesse Tree.

The Jesse Tree team spends its mornings in eviction court, working to keep Treasure Valley renters struggling to pay rent in their homes.

Debbie Sholley reached out to Jesse Tree for help in 2020 after her husband passed away.

"When he passed away my income was cut right in half immediately and I struggled to make the rent that I was paying then which was $1200 a month," Sholley said.

When her lease was up, her landlord raised the rent to $1,550 a month. She said Jesse Tree was able to cover three months of her rent and connect her with other resources.

Like many housing nonprofits, Jesse Tree relies on donations.

"We do depend on a lot of donations that we receive in December for all of our work that we're going to do next year," Ali Rabe, the Executive Director of Jesse Tree said.

She said these donations supplement federal funds which aren't always enough.

"We do have access to some government funding but we can't always get that to people who need it in time to prevent an eviction so having private funds to fall back on has been really really helpful for us," Rabe said.

Deanna Ward, the Director of Development for the Home Partnership Foundation which hosts the avenues for hope fundraiser said the campaign started after realizing many housing nonprofits are in the same situation.

"We saw a lot of the housing nonprofits throughout the state relied heavily on federal funding and that just wasn't adequate to sustain the level of services and the needs in the communities," Ward said.

Avenues for Hope is a statewide campaign to raise money for housing nonprofits. Some of the local organizations participating in the campaign include CATCH, Interfaith Sanctuary and Jesse Tree.

At Jesse Tree, the donations go towards rental assistance for people like Sholley.

"I literally just was breaking down emotionally, not knowing what to do at that point and Jesse Tree saved--I feel like saved my life at that time," she said.

Sholley also encourages anyone who needs help to contact Jesse Tree.

"It's tough for a lot of people and I understand that," she said. "Like I said, I know there's a stigma attached to this, but it'll take a load off your mind and give you some time to think about what the next step is."

The campaign runs until December 31 at midnight. If you're interested in learning more or donating to Avenues for Hope, click here.