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Spare Key executive director embarks on journey of lifetime to raise money for Kentucky families in need


At the end of 2019, Kentucky welcomed the non-profit Spare Key as a registered organization to provide commonwealth families with the financial support they need to pay major bills when faced with critical illnesses or serious injuries. Founded in 1997, the organization has expanded its national footprint immensely in recent years, and through their “Help Me Bounce” platform, Spare Key helps families “bounce back” so that they can focus on what truly matters during those difficult times: their loved ones.

Like many nonprofits, Spare Key is facing critical challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a an effort to keep the non-profit afloat, Erich Mische, Executive Director of Spare Key, has embarked on a unique, once-in-a-lifetime journey to raise awareness about his organization and their urgent need for support. Starting in Minnesota and working his way to Louisiana, Mische has set sail on a 1,700 mile, two-month, ten-state journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft christened the “S.S. Hail Mary.”

Spare Key has served over 4,000 families with nearly $4 million in housing and housing-related expenses since it was established in Minnesota 23 years ago. The organization is currently registered to serve families through its www.HelpMeBounce.org platform in 49 states and will soon be registered to assist families in all 50 states.

Erich Mische and the chassis of the S.S. Hail Mary. (Photo from Spare Key)

And now, more than ever, families across the United States need the relief Spare Key provides.

“Spare Key, like thousands of non-profits, has been severely impacted by the effect of COVID-19 on the economy,” said Mische. “Every event scheduled for this summer, except for one, has been cancelled or postponed. Waiting for something better to happen to change the trajectory of the troubled economy’s impact on charitable giving is not an option. We’re not going to go down without a fight,” he continued.

Mische, who admits he is “…afraid of the dark and scared of wild animals…”, has been eating, living and sleeping on the raft. The S.S. Hail Mary raft was built by family and friends, and the trip is supported by donations of time, money, and resources from various individuals and organizations. It will continue drifting slowly through the middle of America and carries with it Spare Key’s commitment to help families “Bounce and Not Break.”

Artist rendering of the S.S. Hail Mary (Image from Spare Key)

“Throughout our nation’s history, the Mississippi has been a gathering point for communities, hope, and prosperity,” Mische said. “During this journey down the Mississippi, we are asking for people from every walk of life to once again gather at the banks of the river to support their neighbors and communities in need, and to recognize that no matter what may divide us today is nowhere near as powerful as what binds us together as Americans.”

Individuals can support the Hope on the River journey through sponsorships, education, empowerment, pledges, donations, and scholarship funds. To donate, become involved, or learn more, visit www.HopeOnTheRiver.com.

Those wanting to support the organization financially can also donate $5.00 by texting the keyword “RIVER” to 52000.

From Spare Key


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