The term “sojourner” arose through European literature to describe the rise of nomadic people who found purpose in wandering freely from place to place. While it’s easy to romanticize their restless spirits, the unsettling truth is that for most people living this way, life quickly becomes physically and emotionally exhausting.
Sojourners’ Alliance, a unique homeless support program in Moscow, Idaho, is doing its best to make a difference.
Unsettled, homeless people and families exist in our communities today as much as any other time in history, even if we can’t always recognize when it’s happening. It’s something Steve Bonnar understands well. He was a sojourner for years.
Inspired to help others who’d lost their homes like he once had, he founded the Sojourners’ Alliance, a housing nonprofit in Moscow – the same community that helped him settle his own living situation.
Though it focuses on temporary housing and counseling for single men, Steve will not turn away women and children who need help to find long-term housing, food, case management, counseling services, or referrals to other area agencies.
Steve’s efforts hit roadblocks in 2016 when his nonprofit’s federal funding was cut off and again in 2017 after a fire ripped through his facility. He was determined to make this a temporary obstacle, setting out in search of the financial support to reopen.
He turned to Avenues for Hope Housing Challenge, which returns every December to provide homelessness support through private donations. Steve raised $44,956 for his nonprofit in one campaign.
Annual campaign gets more support every year
The annual Avenues for Hope Housing Challenge has raised nearly $2.2 million in seven years for a wide array of housing nonprofits, including Sojourners’ Alliance. Avenues for Hope, which is coordinated by the Home Partnership Foundation, is an online-giving campaign that helps fund Idaho nonprofits that provide critical assistance to low-income individuals and families in need of safe, stable, and affordable housing.
The 2017 campaign was the single biggest year so far for Avenues for Hope, raising $724,305 for 45 Idaho nonprofits. The campaign saw a 35% increase in the number of donations from the community and a 57% increase in money raised compared with the previous year.
The 2018 Avenues For Hope campaign is Dec. 12-18.
Steve had kept track of the campaign’s effects for years, aware of how each year the campaign seemed to get stronger than the last.
It exceeded every expectation I had,” he said. “Without the money from this campaign, I don’t think we would be open again.