RAINIER BEACH – The Washington Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals recently named six outstanding philanthropists to honor at its upcoming National Philanthropy Day luncheon, and one of the recipients is a young Rainier Beach resident.
At age 7, Rena Mateja is a very young philanthropist – realizing that every person can make a difference, no matter how young (or old). At age five, Rena Mateja started collecting coins to help homeless children.
She and her mother Sebrena were on the verge of homelessness and received help from Wellspring Family Services in the Rainier Valley. Once they got back on their feet, Rena hit the ground running by going door to door asking for change to “help homeless babies!”
She then decided that instead of getting presents for her birthday, she asked for money for homeless babies. After two years, Rena collected $506 to help homeless children in her community. She shared her story in a short film and when it was shown to Wellspring supporters, 110 matched her $506 for a total of $55,660 more.
“She is proof that all of us have the power to bring about the change we wish to see in our communities,” said Ruthann Howell, chief executive and president of Wellspring Family Services.
The luncheon will be held Nov. 18, at The Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. More than 1,000 donors, volunteers, leaders and other supporters of nonprofit organizations are expected to attend – making it one of the largest National Philanthropy Day celebrations in the nation.