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  • Nathan Ellis-Brown

Welcome to the Gala from LIHI Board President Joe Abreu & Thank You Gala Sponsors!

I first encountered LIHI in 2013 as a volunteer during a Home Depot day of service where we built garden planters for the veterans at LIHI’s McDermott Place. There I connected with longtime LIHI board member and master carpenter Melinda Nichols, who was having her initial inspirations about tiny houses. LIHI had just offered to host the Nickelsville tent city on our vacant property at 2020 S. Jackson, which was later developed into Abbey Lincoln Court, 68 affordable apartments. Melinda, seeing the tent encampment, thought, “We can do so much better than tents,” and enlisted me and my crew from Home Depot to build the first tiny houses.


What strikes me now about this story is how it perfectly exemplifies the LIHI spirit: the spirit of YES. LIHI had a vacant lot that was waiting for funding to be developed. Why let it sit fallow: could we use it to help our unhoused neighbors right now? YES. These campers are living in tents that are cramped and can get cold and wet. Could we build them some little houses out of plywood? YES. Could we add heat and electricity? YES. The campers really prefer these tiny houses to tents; the materials only cost about $2,500; volunteers came out of the woodwork when we put out a call for help building them. Could we expand this idea, turn it into a program and quickly and cheaply get a lot of people off the streets and into high quality, private shelters? YES YES YES.


Time and time again I have seen LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee say yes to ideas that will help homeless people: ideas from her staff, from the board, from the homeless people themselves, from other organizations, from our municipal partners. This kind of can-do spirit is what makes LIHI special. I have never been prouder than to be affiliated with an organization that does so much good for so many.


Please join us from November 1-14 at our Virtual Gala & Auction (click to register and preview) and bid high and donate so that LIHI can keep saying YES to wonderful ideas and helping more people for another 30 years.


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