Physician Barry Bacon and his wife, Shelley Bacon, feel so passionately about their hometown of Colville, Washington that volunteering at a local organization of their choice didn’t feel like enough.
In 2003, with a group of like-minded friends, they established the Tri-County Community Health Fund (TCCHF), a nonprofit grassroots organization addressing health disparities in northeast Washington. In 2016, in response to community need and poor health outcomes associated with homelessness, the TCCHF formed the Hope Street Project, focused on creating shelter and connecting people with services needed to help them to be successful.
This year, Hope Street was awarded an $8,100 grant through Innovia’s Community Grant Program. The program supports innovative programs addressing specific challenges and opportunities throughout the region to improve access to education, promote health and wellbeing, support arts and culture, create economic opportunity and enhance the quality of life.
Using Shelley’s background in education and leadership, as well as her knowledge of home design and restoration, Barry and Shelley created a support company called “Hope Street Restoration,” which provides tradesman skills in residential home restoration to those experiencing homelessness.
Dr. Bacon said homelessness is the visible symptom of a myriad of problems for many people.
“It’s a messy issue and can get downright ugly,” he said. “It’s important for communities to ask, ‘what are our best solutions to help move lives forward?’’’
While Shelley acknowledges that “their piece is small,” recently they’ve caught the eye of not only the local media but of other residents in Colville who want to help them provide worker training assistance to the homeless.
At the outset, Shelley said a lot of the teaching she’s done with workers has just been trying to help them build confidence. One young man, who is now 29, has battled chemical addiction for a decade but is starting to gain working skills.
“I’d never seen someone with such anxiety,” she said. “Just the simplest interaction with him at the beginning of all this would cause him to break into a cold sweat.”
Gradually he is starting to feel more comfortable interacting with others, according to Shelley.
As word spread further about the effort, a pair of retirees in the community reached out to the Bacons and are now offering their assistance as instructors, too. The small work crews have already worked on two homes and will soon complete their third.
Barry Bacon commends his wife for her patience.
“You need to have a heart for it to do something like this,” he said.
Innovia Foundation is grateful to partner with community leaders like the Bacons who embody our principle of igniting generosity in the communities in which we live.