Pepper Smock donates $20,000 to increase Safety Net in North Idaho

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DEVIN WEEKS/Press Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty President Pepper Smock on Friday presents a check for $20,000 to Safety Net, a nonprofit that gives a helping hand to foster kids and young adults who have aged out of the foster system. The program is growing its visibility in North Idaho to provide access to more local foster kids in need. From left: Safety Net North Idaho volunteer Kristen Neeser, program co-founder Coleen Quisenberry, Smock, co-founder Molly Allen and program supporter Ellen Travolta.

Foster kids are taken care of while they’re growing up and going to school.

Eventually, they turn 18. Then what?

They’re sent out into the world, sometimes with all of their worldly possessions in one bag. With no family members to help them, sometimes they need someone to catch them when they fall.

They need Safety Net.

"Look at the footprint, look at the change it makes in our world when we can take one child and save them," Safety Net co-founder Coleen Quisenberry said Friday afternoon. "It's pretty phenomenal."

Safety Net has been active in the Northwest for 11 years. Founded by Quisenberry and radio personality Molly Allen, the nonprofit serves foster children and young adults by filling specific needs they otherwise wouldn't have the means or support to fill on their own — dental work, money for rent, a new bed, winter clothes, groceries, payment for extracurricular activities and more.

"We just bought a girl a car in Sandpoint,” Allen said. "She goes from Sandpoint to Post Falls every day for school."

Safety Net, based in Spokane, wants to increase its visibility in North Idaho to let foster kids, social workers and those who work with foster children know that they have another resource when needs arise.

"We're really trying to establish more of a presence here," Quisenberry said. "Not that we haven’t had a presence, but we want more help here."

This goal will be realized thanks to a generous donation from Windermere Coeur d'Alene Realty President Pepper Smock, who presented a check for $20,000 to Safety Net on Friday.

"I believe that people who are having challenges and problems are best served by another individual who cares and who will get involved," Smock said. "I’m so grateful the Safety Net program exists and, thanks to the leadership of these ladies, has grown to the point that they can bring this needed service to individuals in North Idaho. It’s where I live, and I’m grateful that I might contribute financially and add my voice to this important work."

Local celebrity Ellen Travolta is also a big supporter of the work Safety Net is doing. She said it's as simple as a request coming in and Safety Net having the ability to write a check and fill that request.

"The thing that appeals to me, that I love about this organization, is there's not all the minutiae. There is not a giant organization that takes a lot of the funds to operate," she said. "I know where my money goes."

Retired teacher Kristen Neeser will serve as the lead volunteer in North Idaho, but Safety Net is in need of more volunteers who have the availability and ability to help with deliveries, including hauling and lifting furniture.

“These kids can either work for you or rob you,” Allen said. “On the streets of Spokane right now, it’s horrible. When you look at our homeless population, a lot of those people trickle out from foster care. Helping them now get their footing is so important because this is the time when you lose them. They’re either going to find their own family on the street or they’re going to take the hand that we’re giving and make something of themselves.”

Monetary donations are welcome to be dropped off at the Windermere office at 1000 Northwest Blvd. in Coeur d'Alene. Checks should be made out to Safety Net.

Email hayley@safetynetspokane.org to volunteer or learn how to donate goods or services.

Info: www.safetynetspokane.org

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