Program to help families build assets

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The state Department of Commerce is throwing weight -- and cash -- behind a local project that helps low-income families save money and plan for the future.

The local Asset Building Coalition, organized by the Blue Mountain Action Council, got the $25,000 infusion as it wraps up its first year.

The goal is for families to save enough money to buy a home or business or continue education.

Members of the coalition include banks, credit unions, housing and social service groups and agencies, community action agencies, debt and credit-counseling services and other public and private groups, said a news release.

Among focuses is ensuring that qualifying families take advantage of the federal earned income tax credit, which nearly 20 percent of eligible workers fail to apply for. The credit can be worth up to $4,700.

For information about the coalition, call coordinator Noah Leavitt at 509-529-4080.

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Seven women and a group have been nominated for the local Soroptimist Internationalchapter's Women of Distinction Awards.

Soroptimist International of Walla Walla Valley is honoring women "who work in extraordinary ways to improve the lives of women and girls in the Walla Walla Valley."

Nominees are Miranda Baerg, Melinda Brennan, Jane Drabek, Holly Howard, Betty Lodmell, Carol Peterson and Anna-Marie Zell-Schwerin, as well as the Grandmother's Roundtable, nominated for honorable mention.

A Soroptimist committee selected the honorees, who were nominated by community members.

A celebratory dinner will be Oct. 17 at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. Tickets are $65. For tickets, call 509-869-0717 or 509-526-3837.

Alasdair Stewart can be reached at alasdairstewart@wwub.com or 509-526-8311.

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