Our Voice: Grateful to Three Rivers Community Foundation

A little over 15 years ago, a group of volunteers made the brilliant decision to form a community foundation that has since become one of the best things to happen to the Tri-Cities.

The Three Rivers Community Foundation is an incredible program that acts as a conduit between local donors and the myriad of charitable Tri-City organizations that can benefit from their generosity. The foundation website calls it the “community’s charitable savings account” because it pools contributions and invests them, allowing it to make sizable donations that help sustain a large number of worthy causes in the area.

Without the foundation, donors would end up scattering their gifts throughout the Tri-Cities and the impact would be diluted. As it happens, the Three Rivers Community Foundation recently announced its end-of-year awards and it totaled an impressive $190,283, which will help 50 charitable organizations in Benton and Franklin counties.

The grants are $500 to $20,000, and they will benefit a variety of programs. Struggling families, the elderly, the disabled and a slew of art organizations will get a financial boost thanks to these grants. The YMCA and the Lourdes Health Network are among the organizations receiving the lion’s share this year, with both getting $20,000. Other substantial grants went to Grace Clinic, $10,500; The ARC of the Tri-Cities, $10,000 and FIRME Outreach, $7,000.

FIRME is one of those charities that might not have as long a history as other nonprofits in the community, but it has a valuable purpose. FIRME stands for Finding, Impacting, Redirecting gangs through Mentorship and Education and its volunteers find young people in gangs and offer them an alternate path for their lives.

According to the FIRME website, Washington state is tied with Illinois for fourth in the country for drive-by shootings – behind California, Texas and Florida. With the recent torrent of targeted assaults in Pasco in recent weeks – even though it is not yet certain they are all gang-related – FIRME is the kind of nonprofit that is desperately needed right now in the community.

However, it is also a program that might not have been on the radar when donors are trying to figure out which charities to support. That’s why the Three Rivers Community Foundation is so important. Its members look at the big picture and wade through grant applications and try to make the best use of all the generous donations combined.

Anyone looking at estate planning or making a year-end donation to charity should consider checking into the Three Rivers Community Foundation. Putting your money there will end up making a bigger difference than you might have imagined.