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Chelan Fresh, Gebbers and Apple House help answer community’s plea for help

Chelan Fresh, Gebbers Farms and Apple House Warehouse & Storage Inc. made a donation for families in rural Washington. The Church of Christ building located at 128 Independence Street in Pateros, WA, will soon be purchased and renovated for a new child care and learning center. During a ceremony, the companies presented the Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization with a check in the exact amount of $110,000. The companies made the donation after learning about the area’s extreme daycare shortage and the organization’s effort to help families.

The Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization needed to raise $110,000 in matching funds by April 15 or it would lose the funds awarded by the Washington Department of Commerce through an Early Learning Facilities grant, and the project would likely be dead.

As April 15 got closer, Pateros Treehouse President Kailee Tanneberg became more anxious. The clock was running out.

With only days left to raise the money, Gebbers Farms, Chelan Fresh, and Apple House Warehouse & Storage Inc. answered the call to help the group and its rural community. Together, the companies donated the entire  $110,000 necessary to meet the grant requirement by the April 15 deadline and make the center a reality.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Tanneberg. “I was just hoping for any donation, no matter how small. Not in my wildest dreams did I think it would equal the entire amount needed by April 15.”

At the ceremony, Tanneberg said, “The board is sincerely grateful to everyone who has so generously donated money, made in-kind contributions, and volunteered their time to get the project this far. We also want to extend a special thanks to Chelan Fresh, Gebbers Farms, and Apple House Warehouse for their tremendous support. Their philanthropic donation has made the Pateros Treehouse Early Education Center a reality.”

“The shortage of licensed child care facilities in rural America is a real problem that affects parents, their families, employers, and entire communities,” said Cass Gebbers, CEO of Gebbers Farms. “The Pateros Treehouse will be a cornerstone of strength and stability for future generations in our area, and we couldn’t be prouder to contribute to this project.”

“Chelan Fresh is proud to support the Pateros Treehouse project,” said Tom Riggan, CEO of Chelan Fresh. “This project helps meet the basic need for child care, which is fundamental to the health and sustainability of rural communities.”

“We believe strongly in giving back to the communities in which we live and work,” said Corey Riggan of Apple House Warehouse & Storage. “Apple House feels extreme pride in awarding The Pateros Treehouse Learning Center this donation to help bring high-quality child care to local families.”

Much of central Washington is a child care desert where there are at least three kids, 5 and under, for every child care slot, and the pandemic has made it even worse. Even before the pandemic, 60 percent of rural Americans lived in a child care desert, according to The Center for American Progress. Tanneberg’s 3-year-old daughter was on a waitlist for more than a year before getting into the only licensed home daycare in Pateros, but the owners are retiring and closing the business.

The Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization is still $30,000 short of its total project budget of $780,000. Donations are greatly appreciated and accepted on the website.

Photo: Danny Dowers (ABC Daycare), Brooke McGuire (Apple House), Lindsay Vallance and Kailee Tanneberg (Treehouse Executive Officers), Mike Harding (Treehouse Board Director and Church of Christ representative), Clay Gebbers (Gebbers Farms), Reba Guzman (Chelan Fresh), Cass Gebbers (Gebbers Farms), Carlene Anders and Gene Dowers (ABC Daycare), and future Treehouse students Jace Vallance, Amelia Vallance, Palmer Tanneberg, Freya Malone, Dani Rose Johanson, Beau Coffman and Hudsyn Stennes.

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