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Fig Tree Resource Directory is now 50 years old

This year the Fig Tree’s Resource Guide is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The publication, first produced by a coalition of churches in the 1970s, has grown dramatically.

Mary Stamp, publisher of the Fig Tree, said the resource directory was initially 28 pages. Copies were mainly distributed to churches.

She said the guide is now 200 pages and the Fig Tree plans to distribute 20,000 copies this summer to social workers, religious organizations and libraries. Stamp said the secret to the guide’s longevity is editor Malcom Haworth’s work to keep the book up to date, and the longstanding efforts to bridge the gap between people in need and services.

“They're been a number of groups that have come, they get a good-sized government grant to go for a year, or three years, to start a directory because they don't know about the directory, and then poof -- they're gone,” Stamp said. “But we have the longevity, the persistence, the years and years of building up a solid base of support that's not relying on one source of income.”

Haworth said the current version of the guide reaches far beyond the faith community. He said a recent visit to Goodwill showed him how many people experiencing homelessness are using the guide.

“The gentleman noticed the directory in my car and said, ‘oh, how do you have this?’ And I explained I was the editor,” Haworth said. “(he told me), 'I just want to thank you so much, the directory is why I'm working in this current position. I was a formerly a homeless veteran and because of coming across this directory I was able to find this employment through Goodwill and then tomorrow they're going to be placing me into this housing.”’

Haworth said every year, he contacts thousands of service providers, organizations and government agencies across Eastern Washington and North Idaho to ensure the information in the guide is accurate.

He said a searchable online guide is available now too, which has sections dedicated to housing, addiction resources and family services.

The publishers of the Fig Tree and Resource guide will be celebrating its anniversary with a benefit March 3 at Cataldo Hall on Gonzaga’s campus. For more information go to thefigtree.org.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.