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Interfaith Hospitality Network seeks more churches to become involved

With shelter programs in the Spokane area filled and with waiting lists, Kathy Bonner Walsh, the new executive and development director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, asks congregations to help the network serve the four families it currently shelters.

“Every religious congregation can be part of providing their talents, treasures and time to address this tragedy,” she said. 

The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) is one channel for helping.  There are 18 families on its waiting list, and it now serves 14 people—seven under the age of 10—in four families housed in host churches.”

“Faith is hope,” said Kathy, who attends Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Nine Mile Falls.

She has faith the Interfaith Hospitality Network will find two more congregations to join the 10 host congregations so they can return to the 12-week cycle of housing families for a week at a time in their buildings.

She also has hope that other churches will join the 19 support congregations that help host churches with transportation, food and other needs.

Kathy, who has been in nonprofit development work for 15 years, graduated from Eastern Washington University in communication studies and marketing in 1985.  She worked with Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, St. George’s School, March of Dimes, Special Olympics, Sacred Heart Medical Center and St. Vincent de Paul before coming to the IHN in May.

“Community nonprofits have such a need,” Kathy said.  “So many try to help underprivileged people and families with real problems.  It’s up to the community to help the people around them.

“It’s what the Lord says.  It’s about what we do to the least of our brothers and sisters,” she added.

Families come to Interfaith Hospitality Network's host churches for an evening meal and to spend the night.  A van picks them up at 7 a.m., taking parents to the day center and children to school. 

At the day center at 2515 E. Sprague, families have an address and phone number to give to potential employers.  They also have a place where they can make phone calls and use the internet to find jobs, transitional or permanent housing, and education.

“We connect people with programs that help them find jobs at livable wages or place them in technical or vocational training through which they can be retrained to find livable wage jobs,” Kathy said.

The IHN connects people in need with congregations and community resources. 

It is partnering with the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, which will host a benefit concert, “Samba in the Cathedral,” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26.

For information, call 747-5487 or email ihnspo@cet.com.