“This will be the 16th year that we do our Our Hearts, Their Harbor, which is a big silent and live auction event,” said Jessica Mitcham, the Good Neighbor’s executive director, adding benefits like the upcoming event are integral to the nonprofit’s operations. “Last year we raised $32,000, which was huge growth from the prior year. Our goal for this year is to raise $50,000. We have moved to a larger venue, so that will help [because] we’re able to have a lot more guests this year.
“We’ve moved to the Booth Western Art Museum. Tickets are already actually almost all sold out [but] we’ve got a handful of tickets left. ... The Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter is almost entirely privately funded. We only get about 5 percent government funding of any kind, so events like this are huge to us being able to raise the funds we need to operate day to day here at the shelter. If we are able to raise $50,000 at this event that will be almost a full 20 percent of our annual budget raised at this event.”
Along with the larger venue, Mitcham said the event also will be enhanced by the wide range of auction items, some of which will include vacation packages, tickets to regional venues and autographed sports paraphernalia.
“It is a lot of fun — the games that we play, the fact that we have the Diamonds and Denim theme,” said Christine Smallwood, president of the Good Neighbor’s board of directors and chairman for Our Hearts, Their Harbor. “Guys can come in jeans. They don’t have to wear a tux and ladies can come in their fine outfits or [their] jeans if they want to. So it makes it fun for the guys to come as well as the ladies.
“... We [also] have great items to bid on and great food and it’s a great way to support the shelter. It’s currently the largest annual event that we have that brings in the most money that goes to the shelter. So we have a lot of great businesses and individuals in the community that do support that, which makes it possible for us to put on this great event and have a great evening.”
Since forming in 1996, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter has served more than 4,600 people. On average, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001 assists nearly 375 individuals per year. While they are housed, Good Neighbor’s guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter’s staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.
“We serve men, women and families who are needing a place to turn while they try to get back on their feet,” Mitcham said. “All of our guests have to be drug and alcohol free and they have to be looking for work or working. Guests can only be here the full 12 weeks that they’re working and saving. I think today about two-thirds of our guests are working and saving money, getting ready to find new places to call home.
“We’ve been really busy this summer. We were actually a little slower January, February and March, but things have picked up and we have served a lot of people this summer. Today we’ve got mostly single men and women but we also have got three families who have children here at the shelter. Most of those kids are getting ready to start school just like everybody else.”
For more information about obtaining tickets to Our Hearts, Their Harbor, which are $60 per person, contact the Good Neighbor at 770-607-0610.