By DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer. Coeur d'Alene Press | June 18, 2021
COEUR d’ALENE — "Community outreach advocate" is a mouthful, Donna Brundage admits, but it sums up what she likes to do.
"I like the term 'advocate,'" she said. "I try to be a voice for those that need one."
People often associate others "with the most convenient definitions," she said. "Homeless, jock, redneck, Karen, Boomer, crazy, Californian. I prefer to go to the next level to get beyond the label and go to the story."
The stories include a Trinity Group Homes resident who, despite life-changing head injuries, works everyday to help those he sees as less fortunate; a young college professor who saw local hospitality workers in need and decided to start a nonprofit; a young hemophiliac who received a transfusion of HIV-positive blood and whose foundation now supports combating the stigma attached to HIV.
"These stories have touched my life, ignite my spirit and help me to continue what I do," Brundage said.
Brundage, a grants development specialist and community outreach advocate for St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho, was honored as the Nonprofit Professional of the Year during the United Way of North Idaho's annual awards luncheon Thursday at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.
St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho executive director Larry Riley proudly introduced Brundage. People in the office know her as "a Jane of all trades, known for trying anything," he said. "She's not afraid."
Brundage is involved in several organizations: CDAIDE, the Civic Engagement Alliance, the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Task Force, the North Idaho AIDS Coalition, the Suicide Prevention Area Network and the National Alliance for Mental Illness, to name a few.
"It's just advocating on the behalf of so many — people with mental health disorders, low income, households with children, low-income service industry workers, elderly folks, veterans," Riley said. "Donna's a leader. Doing the right thing in the face of opposition requires authentic leadership and courage."
The 2021 UWNI Volunteer of the Year is Bev Moss, a powerhouse for CDAIDE, a nonprofit that assists and finds resources for workers in the hospitality and food service industries. Moss has chaired events, worked in communications and outreach and contributed whatever has been necessary to help the organization function.
"It's been a really overwhelming and unprecedented year for CDAIDE, because pandemic restrictions shut down restaurants and hotels with no warning, and people who were already living paycheck to paycheck suddenly didn't have any income," CDAIDE executive director Rebecca Smith said. "Our volume in 2020 went up 800%, and we're seeing that continue into 2021 with pandemic fallout and also the way in which the affordable housing crisis hit hospitality workers so very hard."
When the going got tough, Moss was unfazed. She brought in thousands of dollars for important projects, attended community meetings, served as a peer volunteer to work with clients and make recommendations, and she's taken on volunteer management.
"She did anything and everything that has been asked of her to keep the mission moving forward," Smith said. "In addition to the 100 tasks she's doing, she's also engaging others to take on many of the other remaining tasks."
UWNI also honored local businesses for their partnerships with UWNI:
Hagadone Corporation/Hagadone Hospitality
Hecla Mining Co.