A recently dissolved non-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing housing services to families in need has been donating its funds to various programs within the Independence-Monmouth community. The organization known as Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) has helped countless individuals and families find housing during its 30-year plus lifespan.
While looking toward the future, Pat Jaffer, a pivotal member of the Independence-Monmouth community and NHN support role specialist, took the time to reflect on the motivation behind this organization’s inception at a recent local Rotary Club meeting.
“In those days, people were sleeping under our bridges,” said Jaffer. “Sound familiar, doesn’t it?”
In 1988, representatives from the Central School District partnered with over 40 concerned residents to address their community’s housing crisis. This is how Neighbors Helping Neighbors got started.
In the following years, NHN acquired four duplexes—buying them each at a baffling $1 price tag—from the Veterans Village in Independence. However, to refurbish the duplexes and help get these houseless individuals established, NHN needed to find $26,000. Luckily, through the compassionate hearts of donors, the entire sum was raised while additional volunteers labored to bring the duplexes back up to code. Soon after, the number of people needing housing support increased.
To accommodate the need for more housing, Neighbors Helping Neighbors partnered with Habitat for Humanity to purchase four more duplexes. Later, NHN ended up buying two of the duplexes directly from Habitat for Humanity, bringing their housing duplex number up to 8.
In 2002, NHN took an even larger step by buying property on Ash Street in Independence, one that could fit a six-plex and two additional buildings. This brought NHN’s total rental assets to 22 apartments. Despite the quick expansion of housing availability, Jaffer believes it was always a simple sentiment that brought success to their organization.
“The thing about it is people need a place to live, they really do,” said Jaffer. “They need food, and they need a stable place to have children.”
Over the years, Neighbors Helping Neighbors has witnessed numerous success stories of families and individuals finding prosperity due to the support their organization was able to provide. Many families had children who graduated from high school and others were able to save enough money to purchase a home of their own. And never once does an individual claim credit for the success of this program, rather, only through collaboration can efforts like this be realized.
“This is what we can do when we work together,” said Jaffer.
Now, with Neighbors Helping Neighbors having paid off their loans and sold their properties, distributing their remaining funds to like-minded local organizations takes precedence.
“It’s really important to me that that money is used in Monmouth and Independence because that’s where the money and the labor came from,” said Jaffer.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors has already donated $100,000 to the local food bank and over $840,000 to Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley, an organization dedicated to helping children and families overcome housing instability.
At the end of the Rotary meeting, Mayor John McArdle presented a proclamation to the representatives from Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
“I, John McArdle, hereby proclaim that Neighbors Helping Neighbors is recognized for making a huge difference to the members of our community now and for decades to come,” stated McArdle. “Their actions have and will continue to inspire others.”
Without a doubt, Neighbors Helping Neighbors did what they sought to do. They helped their neighbors. We can too.