Editors Note: This is the first in a series of articles promoting the good side of Idaho and its residents. We will be highlighting local charities and the things they do that often go unnoticed.
1984 was an especially cold winter. For that winter, the average temperature 23 degrees with the low being a negative 31 degrees. During one of the cold spells, two homeless men found themselves without shelter one night. When the sun rose the next morning, the two men remained huddled together, frozen in time.
With the deaths of these two men, the community sprang into action. Founded in 1984, Aid For Friends (AFF) goal has always been to help those in need. In the early years, the volunteers worked to find shelters anywhere they could. Churches opened their doors, individuals found basement spaces and the homeless had shelter.
What they soon discovered was a greater need than they expected. Often unable to find shelter, they struggled to help. Then, the community stepped up to provide help. In 1988, Bannock County stepped up to provide a permanent “temporary” house. The county was able to donate a piece of property to Aid for Friends. This property became the first official homeless shelter in the community.
In 1985, when AFF rolled up their sleeves and went to work, their main clients were adult men. Now, 34 years later, they have seen a shift in their clientele. Today, you are as likely to find displaced families in the shelter as well as homeless men.
One of the incredible things about Aid for Friends is how they manage to take care of those in need. What is even more impressive is they do it using only donated funds. Since their founding, they have existed through generous donations from the community.
Each year they hold different fundraising activities. Activities like Avenues for Hope, Splish and Splash or their Homeless Awareness Encampment to help raise funds. Over the past twelve years, the Encampment has raised over $150,000 for the shelter. These funds go directly to support the 50 or so people who may find themselves at AFF on any given night.
Kim Ward, who has been the shelter director for the past four years, is always grateful for the community’s support. One of the best things Kim brings to the shelter is his sunny disposition. Because of his efforts, the shelter has an air of sunshine and family about it.
Often, though it is tough to maintain the sunshine. On a recent day at the home, there were 35 adults, 25 kids and four babies crammed into the small house. Per Ward, that was a typical day. But, he says, the residents are always grateful to have a roof over their head and a bite to eat.
We would like to encourage our community to support this wonderful organization. Kim says that during the holiday’s the level of support they receive is fantastic, but they need help year round. For many, it is easy to forget the homeless once the “giving” season is over.
We encourage everyone to take a moment to see where they could give to the organization. Money is always appreciated, but items they are in constant need of are:
- Canned Food
- All Paper Products
- Male/Female Hygiene products
- Baby Wipes & Diapers
- Cleaning Supplies
According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, 63% of American’s have no emergency savings. Also, one-third of American’s live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t survive a financial setback. It is scary to think how close our friends and neighbors may be to losing everything.
As a community, we should band together and help those in need. It is the right thing to do. At Idaho Conservatives, we would like to thank those that work at places like Aid for Friends. We would also like to thank all those who support these facilities.
It is our hope that everyone can find a little bit of that Christmas spirit year-round to help those in need.
If you would like to help, you can contact them at:
635 S 4th Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201
We would like to encourage our Idaho Conservatives community to reach out to us with suggestions on other charities we should spotlight. Just leave a comment below and we will see what we can do.