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Charitable donations help others, and possibly you

Write to the Point


One of the sights making a huge impression on me during my 11 years living in Seattle wasn’t the snail’s pace of traffic, the high-price of housing — even back then in the 1990s — or Mount Rainier rising majestically in the south.

What made an impact on me was the sight of the long line of people standing outside the Union Gospel Mission on Fourth Avenue waiting for it to open. Such was my view out my bus window five days a week on the way to my job at Platt Electric Supply’s Seattle branch near Sixth and Lander streets.

It impacted me because at one point during the beginning of my stay in the Emerald City, I had probably been close to joining them. In 1987, I boarded a Greyhound bus in downtown Cheney near where The Mason Jar is today with a suitcase, sleeping bag, pillow and backpack bound for Seattle with the hopeful promise of a job at a company a friend of mine worked at on Western Avenue on the Elliot Bay side of the Pike Place Market.

Long story short, I got the job, albeit part-time, but was able to eventually turn it into a fulltime position that allowed me to move out of Robert’s apartment and into my own Belmont Avenue studio place on Capital Hill. To say it was small is an understatement — I could change the channel on my TV with my big toe while lying on my couch/hide-a-bed — but it was my place and a start at a new life in a city I love.

But 10 months after arriving in Seattle, on the first Monday of August, the beginning of Seafair Week, the owner of the company I worked at called us all into the conference room and said “There’s no money to pay you so we’re closed. If I were you, I wouldn’t waste any time filing for unemployment.”

With that, he and the other executive management team members jumped into their Jaguars and sped off to the next high-paying job while the rest of us pondered our futures.

If you’ve never experienced what it feels like to have something like this happen to you, I don’t know where to start in explaining it. I didn’t have much unemployment saved up, but fortunately I had a landlord who understood what I was going through and worked with me on paying rent.

But eventually the end of the money loomed, and with no nibbles from job interviews, I began to wonder what to do. Get rid of all I had and head back on the bus to Spokane, or stick it out and find a way through using places like the Mission.

Before it came to this, the opportunity with Platt came along. And nine months later while sitting on that bus — having risen from night shift delivery driver to Platt’s South Puget Sound branches to inside industrial sales — I looked at that line of people outside the Mission and thought “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

So one day I called them up and asked how to make a donation. They sent me a letter, and thus began my monthly contribution to UGM.

I thought of all this last week while writing the story about the Cheney Community Services Council, but also in making a donation to a local charity consisting of contributions from Cheney Free Press staff. It’s part of a bimonthly initiative we started in January 2017 called “The 12 Months of Christmas” because while the holidays are great for charities, the rest of the year can be as dry as a desert when it comes to financial and other assistance.

When we started this, we encouraged other businesses and organizations to join us in the effort. I haven’t heard whether that ever took place, but people give in ways they feel is appropriate.

And, as it’s written in the biblical book of Matthew “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing so that your alms (giving) may be done in secret.”

The important thing to remember is to give, especially outside of the two-month holiday season. Need knows no boundaries, and taking care of each other is what we are called to do.

And if that call doesn’t work, maybe remembering we’re all one catastrophic event away from standing in line needing help might.

John McCallum can be reached at


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