City of Refuge celebrated Saturday with a prayer walk and open house in thanksgiving for a community effort that raised more than $50,000 for the home that provides free shelter to unwed mothers and their babies.
City of Refuge founders Dave and Diane Gamble created the fundraiser through a firm that helps nonprofits set up an online event.
The original goal was $35,000, but the Gambles set the bar higher when the donations began coming in.
“The donations ranged from 24 cents to, I think, $3,000,” Dave Gamble said. “They came from the east, west, north and south.”
The official fundraiser ran from Sept. 12 through Oct. 19, but donations are still being accepted.
On Saturday, more than 100 people joined the Gambles, the moms and babies, and house parents at City of Refuge in the Pine Nut Mountains about 10 miles south of Gardnerville.
“The outpouring of support was astonishing,” Gamble said. “It was beyond what we would have ever asked or thought. This will enable moms to continue to become healthy, and babies to be born healthy and happy and fat.”
The staff includes relief house parents, and a host of volunteers.
“I never realized how many people loved us,” said Diane Gamble as she watched guests of all ages enjoy the warm October afternoon on the City of Refuge grounds.
Mindy Funk, who works at City of Refuge and helped organize the fundraiser with her husband Dusty, said she was gratified by the number of new people introduced to the Gambles’ project which began more than 20 years ago.
“I heard from more people who didn’t know anything about City of Refuge,” Funk said. “If nothing else, the biggest thing is spreading awareness.”
In addition to the financial donations, many local businesses and organizations stepped up Saturday.
Topaz Lodge provided pots and pots spaghetti served along with donations from the Nugent Bakery in Bridgeport, Scolari’s in Gardnerville, Organic Girl, and desserts prepared by volunteers from St. Gall Catholic Church, Christ Presbyterian, Trinity Lutheran and Grace Community.
Artist Bob Napolitano, who has drawn a portrait of every mother who lived at City of Refuge, made free caricatures for guests.
Soljourners band provided music and kids tumbled through the bounce house provided by Bounce-n-Play.
“The response was from both the community of faith — in all its length and breadth — and from the secular community as well. We were truly blessed and amazed at the love shown to City of Refuge. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Dave Gamble said.
Since 1991, City of Refuge has offered a safe place for women who chose to carry their babies to term.
The women receive food, shelter, education, training, Christian counseling, access to medical care and what the Gambles call “love in a Christian family” at no cost to themselves or their families.
City of Refuge receives no government funding and is supported by donations from individuals, churches and a few small family foundations.
The most critical needs are improvements to the water system, conversion from solar to more electric appliances and the ongoing expenses of caring for the women and their babies, Gamble said.
More than 100 mothers who sought help at City of Refuge have given birth since 1991. The home has sheltered about 250 women and children over the years, staying “till they get squared away,” Gamble said.