Our Voice: Thankful for programs that improve people’s lives

Two Tri-City organizations recently got the boost they were hoping for so they could offer more support to people seeking their services.

One was the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, which was looking for financial help for a new building, and the other is Columbia Basin College, which had been waiting for one of its programs to become accredited. Both got good news last week, and we are grateful that both agencies can get going on their new endeavors.

Surprise donation

The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission was oh, so close to reaching its $8 million goal needed to build its new facility.

It had $900,000 left to raise when a surprise donation by board members of Community First Bank came through and covered the entire amount.

Andrew Porter, mission executive director, said he was “taken aback” when he learned about the gift.

Topping off the mission’s fundraising campaign was incredibly generous of the bank’s board, which includes Eric Pearson, the bank president and CEO, Lee Adams, Ty Haberling, Bruce Ratchford and Darrick Dietrich. Since the gift is from board members and not the bank itself, the donation will have no impact on bank earnings or shareholder value.

Now mission officials can get busy building their much needed, new homeless shelter.

The current building used by the mission is old, cramped and limiting. The new 36,000-square-foot facility will be built on seven acres near the existing mission in Pasco. It will have about 150 beds, a chapel, classrooms, computer labs, a dining room and more rooms for case management and counseling services.

This donation is the final piece the mission needed to start making a difference in more people’s lives. It was great the bank’s board decided to go all the way and fund what was left of the goal.

New online degree

Columbia Basin College had been waiting to secure accreditation for a new online business administration degree, and officials recently learned it came through. They have been prepared for a while, so classes are scheduled to start at the beginning of March.

This is a great new program that gives people more flexibility than the traditional classroom setting. This is a welcome addition to the programs already offered at CBC.

Community colleges traditionally seek ways of making education possible for those who would otherwise not be able to pursue a college degree. This new program fits right in with that mission.

The online model allows students to advance once they demonstrate they have mastered past lessons, which means they can go as quickly or as slowly as they need. For those who move quickly, CBC officials predict they could possibly cut six months off what typically takes two years to complete.

This is yet another example of how well CBC finds innovative ways to help people get their education.