Cranberry Festival leads to generous donation to Ryan’s House

House of Prayer pastor Glen Horn presents a check to Lori Cavender, executive director for Ryan’s House. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
House of Prayer pastor Glen Horn presents a check to Lori Cavender, executive director for Ryan’s House.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Cranberries, a tart Thanksgiving dinner staple, were real sweet for Lori Cavender.

Thanks to House of Prayer and its Cranberry Fest for the fruit, Ryan’s House for Youth is another couple thousand dollars closer toward opening.

“Almost every bit of money is going to building the shelter,” said Cavender, executive director for Ryan’s House, a homeless youth shelter on South Whidbey.

Cavender received a check from House of Prayer for $1,760. The nonprofit was chosen by House of Prayer’s pastor Glen Horn and its elders. For the past six years of the church’s fundraiser, money from the sales was donated to an international humanitarian cause exclusively. This year, the church’s leaders wanted to help a Whidbey cause, and caring for homeless youths was the benefactor.

“It is the uniqueness of that project,” Horn said. “There are lots of worthy projects — it’s just that this \ targeted and met the kind of needs at home that we were looking to help overseas.”

Volunteers from House of Prayer trudged through the bog just a mile north on Highway 525 to pick the cranberries. One of the Cranberry Fest committee chairs, Donna Frederick, said four people were responsible for picking 142 8-ounce bags of cranberries, which sold out by noon — doors opened at 9 a.m.

She estimated 300 people visited the tiny church’s fellowship hall to buy fresh cranberries, cranberry relish, cranberry mustard and cheesecake.

Altogether, they raised more than $3,500, with half going to Ryan’s House and half going to drought relief in eastern Kenya and Somalia.

“It’s just God’s people in the world doing stuff,” Horn said.

Cavender has been busy promoting Ryan’s House and its cause; assisting, and advocating for, homeless youths. She recently returned from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth conference in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“We need to continue to get the story out that these are good kids born in bad situations,” Cavender said.

One way she’s planning to make the group more visible is a mobile support van that will visit locations in Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor. The van is stocked with toiletries, sleeping bags, gloves, scarves, hats, blankets and snacks, almost all of which were donated, which Cavender was grateful for and said unused soap and shampoo from hotels are great giveaways from the van.

Two rows of seats were removed for storage of the gear. One row remains so youths can get rides if they need them.

The van is in the parking lot across from Langley United Methodist Church from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays; in Coupeville on Tuesdays; and in the Oak Harbor Walmart parking lot Thursdays.

Cavender’s tireless work on Ryan’s House got Frederick’s attention, which was one of the reasons she suggested the charity.

“We really wanted to donate to something local,” Frederick said. “It’s a real need. She’s just spending her life on it.”

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