Unique fundraiser supports young adult shelter in Yakima

Shelter named 'Jesse's Place' in honor of former resident
Ryans Fundraiser For Jesses Place At Camp Hope

YAKIMA, Wash. — A KAPP-KVEW employee is looking to make an impact on the lives of young adults living without shelter by holding an online fundraiser with a unique twist: he’s going to shave his head.

“I’m asking you to donate today,” said Ryan Messer, Local Sales Manager at KAPP. “Help raise $5,000 this week and I’ll shave my head for your generosity this Friday.”

Messer set out at the beginning of the week to raise money for Jesse’s Place, a new shelter at Camp Hope dedicated to housing young adults ages 18 to 24. His goal was to get about $5,000, but was overwhelmed with community support.

“The head shaving was a quick gimmick to get people to actually give,” Messer said. “What I’ve realized since is that nobody needed the gimmick; everybody just wanted to support.”

As of Thursday evening, the fundraiser had brought in more than $16,000 in donations.

Posted by Emily Goodell on Thursday, April 1, 2021

The shelter is named after Jesse Nickens, a young man whose struggles with mental health issues occasionally led him to living on the streets.

“He struggled with bipolar disorder but did not have his first manic episode until senior year of high school,” Messer said.

Nickens was also a two-time, all-state football player at two positions and lettered in both track and basketball.

“He was an overachieving student and all around amazing kid who had mental health issues,” Messer said. “He would leave home and live on the streets for days or sometimes weeks at a time; many times he found solace at Camp Hope.”

Jesse was truly an amazing young man. We were blessed to know him.

Posted by Camp HOPE on Sunday, March 28, 2021

Nickens passed away in 2017, when he was 21 years old. Messer had been friends with Nickens’s mother since junior high school and when he found out about the new shelter space for young adults at Camp Hope, he wanted to help.

“As a young adult, he needed something different than both teens and older adults. That’s what Jesse’s Place will be,” Messer said. “There is now room at Camp Hope for 18 to 24-year-olds to find shelter, compassion and the help they need to try to get back to some sense of normalcy.”

The shelter is one of several repurposed portable classrooms recently obtained by Grace City Outreach, the nonprofit organization that runs Camp Hope. The portable will be split into two units: one that will house up to 15 young men and a second to house up to 15 young women.

“They have many needs to help provide for all of them; some are simple things we take for granted like clean sheets,” Messer said.

This is the second year in a row that Messer will be shaving his head for a good cause. Last year, he was able to raise more than $2,500 in three days to help support Rod’s House, a local nonprofit that provides services and resources for teens living without shelter.

The Facebook fundraiser will end on Friday, but people can still donate to Jesse’s Place after that by going to the Camp Hope website.