Photos courtesy of the Redding Rancheria
There were no losers at Win River on Saturday.
There were, however, several ghosts, goblins and even a chainsaw-toting Santa Claus.
It wasn’t Halloween or Christmas, but it was the annual themed banquet honoring a handful of local non-profit groups that help feed and shelter the growing number of homeless and low-income residents in the area. Sponsored by the Redding Rancheria Community Foundation, the party’s theme was the Nightmare before Christmas, a popular animated Disney film released in 1993.
Tribal authorities, local business leaders and elected officials — including Redding City Council member Missy McArthur, and Shasta County Supervisor Leonard Moty — were among the nearly 400 in attendance.
A silent auction and raffle raised enough money to cover the cost of the event and to give one especially deserving non-profit a $10,000 prize. The winner was chosen by the foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Win River tribal casino. The decision was based on financial need and other criteria, said Maria Orozco, the casino’s public relation director.
“We just wanted a way to say thank you for the incredible work all of these organizations do in our community,” she said.
Living Hope Compassion Ministries of Redding was this year’s winner.
The organization serves about 2,200 meals a month and provides clothing and free groceries to families in need from its facility near the Redding Library.
But the non-profit pride’s itself on being more than a soup kitchen, executive director Michael Mojarro said.
“We have relationships with the people,” he said. “We sit down and eat with them. We talk to them and listen and cry and laugh with them.”
That, Mojarro said is what sets the group apart from other similar groups and the key to helping break the cyclical nature of homelessness and poverty.
“Anyone can give food,” he said. “We want to really figure out why they’re homeless.”
The best part about the award is that there are no strings attached to it, meaning the group can use it without the restrictions typically associated with grants it receives.
“We can use this money for other things that aren’t provided for under our grants,” Mojarro said. “We were just elated for them to even consider us.”
The group has a plan for the money that Mojarro was reluctant to speak about because he’s not solidified the plan. However, he said it could revolutionize the approach to handling homelessness in the region. He expects to speak openly about the new program model in coming weeks.
The Hope Foundation is supported by several area churches and has an annual budget of about $150,000. It has about 100 volunteers and two paid employees, including Mojarro and Jordan Storment, who coordinates the volunteers and writes grants.
Several other groups, all of which received grant money from the foundation last year, were also honored Saturday.
Living Hope received a $12,000 grant from the foundation in 2009 that was earmarked to purchase food.
In total, the foundation awarded $163,803 in grants to non-profits that provide services for the homeless, single mothers and low-income families.
The foundation is accepting grant applications for 2010. Its focus this year is arts and culture, education, environment, health and social service, Orozco said.
Public schools and other tax-exempt organizations in Shasta and Trinity are eligible.
The Redding Rancheria Community Fund, founded by the tribal group that owns Win River, was formed in 2002 and has donated more than $1.2 million to local charities. The Rancheria is comprised of members of the Pit River, Yana and Wintu tribes.
Reporter Brian Hazle is a Shasta County freelance journalist. He can be reached at 619-822-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org