The largest organization serving the needs of the homeless in Carson City has launched a new campaign, hoping to raise half a million dollars within the next few years to save its own home.
"This community built a cancer center. This community built a boys and girls club, and this community can help us save the home of FISH, and still feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and end hopelessness," said Jim Peckham, executive director for Friends In Service Helping, in a plea to the community.
Because the balance owed on the property is $1.7 million, and its value in today's battered economy is only about $1.6 million, the group would like to buy down the loan so it can refinance and get a $1.2 million loan at a lower interest rate.
The interest on the loan is 7.75 percent, but interest rates are lower than they've ever been, and Peckham said he hopes to be able to secure a rate closer to 4 percent before 2016.
"That would free up about an extra $8,000 a month, which we could be using to serve people better," he said.
The monthly mortgage payment is about $14,600.
"People ask us, 'How do you do that?,' and I just tell them we do it with a smile," Peckham said.
To become a charter member of FISH, or for more information about how to help or to arrange for a group tour of the FISH facilities, call Peckham at 775-882-3474.
Janice McCauley, who is helping organize the membership drive, said it's imperative that the community get behind FISH's efforts.
"We helped 19,000 homeless and needy people in our community last year, and 381 of those were children in our school districts," McCauley said. "We serve Lyon County, Storey County, Douglas County and Carson City. We can't do this without your help."
The FISH facilities, which sit on more than an acre of land at the corner of Carson and Long streets, are 23,400 square feet and include the thrift store, Ross Clinic, food bank, dining room and client services offices. FISH distributes 800,000 pounds of food every year.
The new membership drive was kicked off last Saturday at the Have a Heart Community Award Banquet, where 10 new charter members decided to join the partnership.
Anyone donating $500 or more in a given year, or a business or organization giving $1,000, would become a charter member.
"We're developing an honorary wall in our main lobby for our charter members, and if someone donates $10,000 or more, we'll name part of our building after them," Peckham said.
He said contributors also will receive a plaque, and if someone making one of the larger donations wants to pledge an amount, payments can be spread out over a period of time.
Peckham said he will be reaching out to service clubs and other groups to see if they will commit to help.
"If we don't do this, we're going to lose our facility," he said.