We all know that we are truly blessed to call Coeur d’Alene our home. Not just because of its natural beauty but because of the community in which we live. It is a community made up of the young, the young at heart and everyone in between. We are from all walks of life, financial status, retirees and those with aspirations yet to be fulfilled. The hospitality, kindness and generosity of those who live here can be seen not only this holiday season but throughout the year.
We all have busy lives, and many of us can find it difficult to find time outside of work and family life to dedicate time to things we enjoy. But there are people who are not just taking time for themselves—they are dedicating their time to numerous causes and organizations to make a positive difference in our local community.
“I grew up in a home that taught me to give back,” says Tabitha Wiltse. “I love that I have the ability to give my time and talent to different organizations. I am fulfilled by connecting and helping others.”
Originally from Harrison, Idaho, the 32-year-old had moved around until her path brought her back to the Coeur d’Alene area five years ago. The executive director for the North Idaho Trail Foundation and PR consultant, Tabitha firmly believes in the importance of giving back to her local community. You will find her spending time at the Children’s Village working as a gift coordinator, in donor relations and fundraising. As the BikeCDA Board president, she does much of the outreach. She also does fundraising for the Kootenai County Police and Fire Memorial Foundation and is involved with creating nonprofit nights at Cosmic Cowboy.
During the holiday season, she says, BikeCDA has teamed up with community members to raise money for bike lights for kids riding their bikes during the winter months. Children’s Village is helping connect past residents needing things for the holidays and community members who have left the Children’s Village.
“I have never felt more fulfilled than when I am connecting people together in our community,” Tabitha says. “I love seeing nonprofits, organizations and even businesses succeed. Knowing I had a small part in that is the best.”
Thirty-five-year-old Shane Greenfield, a realtor at Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty, moved to Coeur d’Alene when he was just 5 and has called Coeur d’Alene home ever since. A graduate of the 2016 CDA Leadership class, Shane currently sits on the committee. He is also a member of The Coeur Group, a young men’s entrepreneurial organization developed for service projects in the Coeur d’Alene area, in which he helps with social media, their Locker Program and is a representative to Make A Wish.
When it comes to what he enjoys most about being part of the local community, he says it’s the people. “Our area has changed so much in the past 15 years, and it has brought all sorts of ideas. Beyond that, the community is the most giving you will find. Whether it be The Coeur Group's Locker Program, Children's Village or another fantastic charity, people always want to help, and we always have a good time doing it.”
The Coeur Group became involved with Make A Wish, as they didn't have many North Idaho representatives, according to Shane, and are currently helping two children and look forward to continuing to help children in our area. “One of my favorite events of the year to work at is the North Idaho Youth Ranches Wine, Women and Shoes. It is a blast benefiting a fantastic local charity,” he says.
During this holiday season, The Coeur Group joined Community Action Partnership in handing out meals to those in need. They are also helping with the Salvation Army’s bell ringing and Books for Tots.
Shane firmly believes that being active in your local community inspires change. “We can't affect change unless we contribute. Helping others should be a priority. I believe the better your community is, the better you are, as we all benefit from a healthy community,” he says. “We get so tied up in our own lives that we forget how fortunate we are. It's nice to be able to go to bed and know you did something that made someone else's day.”
Another local who encourages community involvement is Matthew Higgins. Originally from Montana, Matthew came to Coeur d’Alene to attend North Idaho College, and as he says, “I made every effort possible to stay and make this my home.”
A private banker at Idaho Trust Bank, the 38-year-old is a board member with The Coeur Group. When asked what drew him to become involved with TCG, he says, “I only wanted to play my part in a community that I very much care for, and the people here. I wanted to grow, learn and develop as much as I could also, and this has drastically helped.”
The Coeur Locker Program, supported by The Coeur Group and Matt Anderson at Tapley Cabinets, builds and supports lockers in the area schools for children who are in need of clothing, school supplies and additional necessities. The Coeur Group builds and installs these lockers and donates $2,000 for an initial grant to purchase items. These items are then placed in the locker for those kids in need.
“We have done a great job with our Coeur Locker Program, building and installing lockers in every school in the 271 district, and we are also branching out of this district to Post Falls and north,” says Matthew.
Brian Babb, 35, is another young individual who is helping make a difference in local communities. Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, he attended Ramsey Elementary, Lakes Middle School, Lake City High School and Gonzaga University. Owner and financial advisor at White Pine Wealth Management, he serves on the Board of Director for The Coeur Group as well as the local Alumni Association Chapter.
“The perspective gained by working with those less fortunate makes me a better person and parent. And it’s fun!” he says. “Some of the most memorable projects I’ve worked on have included organizing military care packages, weekend construction projects in local schools and distributing Thanksgiving dinners to families in need.”
Brian also works with Idaho Make A Wish as a wish granter helping match eligible kids with their one true wish. “Helping put a smile on a kid’s face that is fighting a critical illness is a joyful experience,” he says. Brian and his wife Jodi also host an annual fundraiser, Grown Up Prom, where attendees dress up like proms of the past for dancing and merriment. Donated items are raffled off with all money raised going directly to local teachers for use in their classrooms.
He encourages those in the community, especially those with kids and grandkids, to reach out to their teacher, counselor or principal. “They are always in touch with the needs of their school and their local neighborhood,” says Brian. “And it often only takes a small commitment to make a tangible impact.”
We as a community are blessed to have these individuals among us. If you are inspired to get involved in your local community and looking to give back this holiday season, follow Tabitha’s lead. “Find something you are passionate about and do it. Find something that you get excited about and give.”
Shane concludes, “Find what you’re good at and figure out how your puzzle piece fits.”