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Mount Vernon Kiwanis Donates $15,000

Three local charities received a total of $15,000 from the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club last Wednesday night to further their individual missions.

During their meeting at the Belle Haven Country Club the service club presented United Christian Ministries (UCM), Good Shepherd Housing, and New Hope Housing, Inc., each with a $5,000 check. Making the presentations were Mark Jurcak, club president, and Robert Valone, chair of Kiwanis' community service committee.

"These are three organizations in the Mount Vernon area who do the most for the homeless and needy in our view," said incoming club president, Paul Mehler. "This was a major event for us."

Mount Vernon Kiwanis will also be partnering with UCM and New Hope Housing. This will enable those groups to receive an additional 20 percent from Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental housing financing organization.

Paul Heimer, New Hope Housing's Director of Development, who accepted his organization's grant, explained that each year the Fannie Mae Foundation sponsors a walk-a-thon to raise funds for an awareness of homelessness throughout the region. Last year's 5K event drew 80,000 walkers, according to Heimer. This year it is scheduled for November 23.

"Funds are raised through business partnering, individual donations, and how many walkers sign up from a given organization. Registration fees for the walk are $25 per adult and $15 per youth," Heimer explained. "If an organization gets 1250 walkers or more they receive an extra $25,000."

MOUNT VERNON KIWANIS has been raising money for charitable purposes for years, according to Mehler. "Our biggest fund-raiser is always our Christmas tree sales at Belle Haven Plaza. We usually make about $12,000 each year," he said. The club also collects food for UCM at grocery stores on the first Saturday of each quarter, Mehler noted. Sharon Kelso, executive director, accepted for UCM.

In accepting the donation for Good Shepherd Housing, Shirley Marshall, executive director, said, "Your support this year is particularly important. We will be able to leverage this donation to hopefully get another $25,000 at the walk-a-thon."

Marshall noted that her organization has 75 families in housing and another 69 on a waiting list. "A number of groups are running out of funds. We've seen a demand for our services coupled with an increase in the costs of providing those services," she said.