Valerie McCain was passionate about helping families in need, and a fund that collected donations in memory of the late Bechtel leader is going to an organization that does just that.
The Valerie McCain Memorial Fund raised more than $30,000 for the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission’s capital campaign to build a new shelter for women and children in Kennewick.
The 3 Rivers Community Foundation, which established the fund, recently presented the check to Union Gospel Mission leaders in a ceremony attended by McCain’s family.
The 53-year-old died in March after a short illness. She led the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant project for four years and spent more than 30 years total with Bechtel.
Friends and colleagues around the country contributed to the fund in her honor.
“Our family has been overwhelmed with the impact she had on so many in the Tri-Cities community and around the world at other Bechtel offices and projects,” McCain’s daughter Natalie said in a statement, noting the donation to the mission will ensure “her legacy of compassion, grit and generosity lives on.”
Andrew Porter, the mission’s executive director, said his organization “was very honored to be chosen” by McCain’s family as the donation recipient. The new shelter is greatly needed, he said.
The mission’s existing shelter for women and children is on North Second Avenue in Pasco. It’s in a building that’s more than 100 years old, with aging electrical, plumbing and heating systems.
The building is too small, with three bathrooms total for a bustling shelter that can hold 30 people and regularly is at capacity. Because of its layout, there’s often not a way to give mothers and their children their own room, and there’s also no space for counseling, recovery classes or life skills training.
“It’s very tight in there when it’s full, which is most of the time lately,” Porter said, noting it’s in a rougher neighborhood where crime and safety are concerns.
But the mission has a new location locked down.
The organization in 2021 bought about 3.5 acres for a new women and children’s shelter on North Young Street near Vista Field in Kennewick. The property already has the proper zoning, and it’s in a safe area that’s close to social services and to employment opportunities, Porter said.
The new shelter will have apartments for women with children, plus classrooms for programs and trainings, space for counseling, and indoor and outdoor play space for kids.
It’s envisioned as about 23,000 square feet, with room for 60 women and children – or double the current capacity. The mission has raised about $1.5 million for its $9.5 million capital campaign.
Porter said a timeline isn’t nailed down yet; the mission will build when it has the money.
“I know there’s a need in the community based on what we’re seeing,” Porter said, adding that he expects even more women to feel comfortable seeking help when the new facility opens.
With its additional space for counseling, training and programs, the new women and children’s shelter will have an impact beyond providing a roof and warm meals.
“Feeding and housing and clothing and sheltering people – that’s all very important, that’s where it starts. But it’s the work that gets done while they’re here to help them get turned around restored back into our community that’s so important. The facility is a tool to make that happen,” Porter said.
To learn more and donate: tcugm.org/women-and-childrens-shelter.
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