By Madison Miller for Bellevue Reporter | Thursday, January 31, 2019
Jubilee REACH recently held its annual Festival of Trees at the Hyatt Regency on Nov. 10. This event invites supporters and community members to a night of celebration, hope, inspiration, and influence.
Jubilee REACH serves Bellevue children and families in a multitude of ways. Through their partnership with the Bellevue School District, site coaches are present in many schools and offer before and after school education that builds relationships. The Jubilee REACH Center offers various services from ESL classes to medical, dental and legal care. The Jubilee REACH Thrift Store also serves the community by providing life and job skills, and a portion of donations go directly to serving families living in need.
In addition, community events, such as the Festival of Trees, allows the community to gather and raise funds that support local youth through all of Jubilee REACH’s services and programs.The Festival of Trees gala auctions off professionally decorated and themed Christmas trees, along with other unique items such as various dinner packages, VIP packages to Paramount Theatre, seven-night stays in resorts and spas, to name a few.This grand holiday event welcomed guests with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, a holiday photo booth, wine pull game, a silent auction. The live auction, testimonials and dinner followed.
Dozens of Jubilee REACH volunteers help organize this event each year. Volunteer Linda Tanner said this is her second year helping with this event. “It’s just such a great fundraiser and puts everyone into the holiday spirit while helping out local kids and families,” she said. “What could be better?” Tanner said participating in the event “hardly feels like work,” as the volunteers are “treated like family.”
The Festival of Trees gala honored several of Jubilee REACH’s sponsors including their presenting sponsor, MN Custom Homes, who donated $100,000.
The Bellevue-based custom home builder organization has been searching for a way to give back to its community for the past year-and-a-half, according to MN vice president of sales and marketing, Ben Brittingham. “We specifically wanted to reach people who were in need, not just build a park or improve an area,” Brittingham said.”Jubilee REACH was already doing great work in the community and schools, shared our passion for helping reach those in need and were entrenched many Bellevue schools and had a system in place to identify individuals and families who could benefit from additional support.”
Aside from volunteering “employee work days,” which are special work days where MN employees take a day off from work to volunteer their time cleaning, fixing, updating a neighbor-in-need’s yard, MN Custom Homes developed “REACH the Need” projects.
Their latest construction will be donating all of its profits to Jubilee REACH and support its services and programs. This construction site, located in the Lake Hills area, has an “unbelievable story,” according to Brittingham.
The Lake Hills home that is being renovated was previously owned by a World War II veteran, Emyrs L. Williams. Williams never married and never had children, however volunteered his time with the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations as his way of giving back. Mary and Doug Roberts became his caretakers later in his life. Williams left Mary and Doug his home to support them through retirement. They rented the property out for several years following Williams’ death but decided to renovate it and sell it.
“MN Custom Homes selected this home site as Project REACH the Need that would help fund the Jubilee REACH schools and community initiatives and kickoff [our] partnership,” Brittingham said. “We didn’t choose this home because of the story, but for the story of the caretaker…I feel like it’s like giving back twice.”
The home is expected to be completed in late February of 2019. Brittingham said he hopes MN can bring “awareness to the amazing work that Jubilee REACH provides in our community and schools [as well as] invite other business to join us in our financial support of Jubilee REACH.”
The Festival of Trees Gala and Auction raised $1.08 million, succeeding last year’s total of $1.05 million.