Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
September 29, 2014
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photo: Eric Johnston
Program coordinator: Jim Minkler
          On the move:  Monday, Oct. 6, is the club’s first luncheon at our new home, The Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln.  We meet in the Landau Conference Room on the second floor, accessible by stairs or an elevator.
         Club social:  Sort of like “the dog ate my homework,” event coordinator Jodi Harland said earlier sign-up sheets were lost and members need to sign up again for the gathering Saturday, Oct. 11, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Hidden Acres, 16802 N. Applewood Lane, in Greenbluff.  Members, family and guests are welcome for the hayride and chili feed.  The club will provide beverages and desserts; members are asked to bring their favorite chili or a side dish.  Let Jodi know how many are coming and what you are bringing.
Project Hope sows seeds of success
            Hope is growing, literally, among young people in the West Central neighborhood through the efforts of Project Hope Spokane.
             Christopher Dennis, a Project Hope board member, described the organization’s youth-outreach efforts for the club Sept. 29.
Dennis said that after two young men lost their lives in 2004 in West Central violence, members of the community, led by Patrick and Connie Malone, “looked for safe, meaningful activities to empower them to make a difference in their community and in their lives. “  The first step was to open “God’s Gym, in Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway
             Inspired by the work of the Rev. Greg Boyle and his Homeboy/Homegirl Industries in Los Angeles, Project Hope has created “green pathways” opportunities through its Riverfront Farm, West Central Lawn Care and West Central Marketplace programs.
Dennis said programs are targeted toward the West Central and Emerson-Garfield neighborhoods, where one indication of the poverty level is that 91 percent of school children are on reduced-price and free lunch programs. Holmes Elementary, the focus of many of the club’s service efforts, is in the heart of the Project Hope area.
            The federal government, he said, considers much of this area “a certified Food Desert,” meaning the area is a low-income neighborhood with no food market other than a convenience store within a one mile radius.   That means a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diets of many.  There also are few summer jobs for area youth, Dennis added.
            Enter Project Hope, which operates from the church at Walnut and Broadway.  Dennis, who started as a program supervisor in 2011, said typically 25-32 kids were in the summer programs.  This year 39 participated.
            The Riverfront Farm is “a scattered-site urban farm” spread over six lots covering nearly two acres.  The project owns one lot and has 3-5-year commitments on the others.  “We’ve raised 2,000 pounds of food –a ton of food,” Dennis said.  Many of the fruits and vegetables grown on the farm lots are sold at the West Central Marketplace, which operates from 3-6 p.m., Tuesdays, June to mid-October at Cannon Park, adjacent to the West Central Community Center.
The project also offers cooking classes to make sure people know how to prepare meals using the fresh produce, he said.
            West Central Lawn Care mowed 200 lawns this summer.  “When the neighborhood looks better, they (renters and homeowners) take better care of their properties,” Dennis said.
             More than 200 young people have gone through the Project Hope Spokane programs since 2005, Dennis said, adding that “the hardest thing we do is turn away people, because we get twice as many applicants as we can take.”
Participants as young as 11 can earn $500 for the summer and those 16 and older can earn $1,100, Dennis said.  In addition to the money, participants also are taught valuable job skills, including how to interview.
            Dennis proudly showed slides of “Bakari,” whom Chris met when the youngster was 13. He successfully completed the Project Hope programs and Chris recently saw Bakari in an older red Mustang.  While getting his own car was one goal, another is to attend Whitworth University, Chris Dennis’ alma mater.  That’s a success story built on hope.