Off The Press

April 13, 2009

By David Hayes

Gamble on the car,  help a family in need

David Hayes Press Reporter

David Hayes Press Reporter

Wanna gamble?

For the low price of just $20 per ticket, I can give you a one-in-10,000 chance to win a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 limited edition, authentic muscle car. For all of you car nuts, here’s what this baby features:

– 6.1 litre HEMI V8 engine

-425 horsepower

-5-speed autostick

-13-speaker Kicker SRT high performance audio

-GPS navigation system

-HEMI orange with black racing stripe on the hood

Who wouldn’t want to win this re-imagining of an American classic?

What was that? You only like to bet on sure things? Afraid the house has too much of an advantage? OK, you can be sure that your money is going to a good cause. Also, you’ll want this house to have all the advantages it can get. For this isn’t any raffle project. The Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843 is sponsoring the effort of raising $100,000 for Compassion House.

Compassion House is a nonprofit organization that offers temporary housing for families or individuals essentially down on their luck.

“The typical resident stays for one to two years,” said founder and board member Mark Miller. “So, we’re more transitional housing than low-income housing.”

Started in 1998 by the Mountain Creek Christian Church, Compassion House split off into its own nonprofit a few years later. Through the help of the Master Builders of King and Snohomish counties, the Monti House, acquired from the city of Issaquah, was renovated and moved to its current location on Southeast Andrew Street in 2007. Since then, Miller said the house, including a mother-in-law apartment, has been a temporary home to three or four families with one set to depart in June.

Compassion House organizers have been developing plans to build a second facility, a duplex, in an adjacent lot. Miller said the Master Builders have stepped in again and offered to provide the yeoman’s effort to construct the new home. Compassion House’s contribution would be just $100,000.

That’s where the car comes into the picture.

Michael Steele, a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a just-retired pilot for Northwest Airlines, heard the plight of Compassion House at a church service. He wanted to help.

“As an old-time car enthusiast, I’d heard of other organizations that raffled cars,” Steele said.

He pitched his idea to the board of directors to purchase a car for a raffle.

“And they said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Steele said.

As a “car collector wanna be,” Steele’s research led him to the 2008 Dodge Challenger. Only 6,400 models of this limited edition were produced. Steele’s is No. 4243.

“It’s got a retro design for the new muscle car collector,” he said. “It’s a beautiful car.”

Steele hopes to give the car a public debut April 25, hopefully at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in or at the farmers market at Pickering Farm. Keep an eye out for details when they firm up.

Miller gave assurances that even if all 10,000 tickets are not sold, the car will still be given away Dec. 6. However, to entice even more people to participate, the organizations are offering a choice — the car or, for noncar enthusiasts, $40,000. A win-win situation.

“Compassion House is an astounding project,” Steele said. “It’s horrendous that there are families in need of short-term housing and would be destitute otherwise. It’s incomprehensible that a group would try to establish a project of this magnitude on their own. What a heartwarming concept.”

Tickets are available at the Elks Lodge and at the Mountain Creek church. So, feel like gambling? Remember — in this win-win situation, even if you don’t win, someone who really needs the assistance does.

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