AACCES Donates $2500 to Helping Hands

AACCES Donates $2,500 to Franklin PUD’s ‘Helping Hands’ Program
‘Helping Hands’ helps people struggling paying their power bill

It’s an organization that’s been making an impact in the Tri-Cities for nearly 2 decades. The African American Community Cultural & Educational Society was established in the early 2000’s - with the goal of helping not only African Americans - but everyone in our community who has a need. It’s that community spirit that drew Antoinette Fite to AACCES.

“AACCES was established in 2003. Our early focus was to raise awareness of African Americans, particularly in the Tri-Cities and Hanford area. In addition to that we provide support in the form of K-12 and college scholarships. We have about 14 members.  We welcome anyone who is interested in supporting AACCES goals and objectives,” said Antoinette Fite, who is the current secretary and handles communications (website/Facebook) for the organization.

Fite, is used to helping people out. For 14 years she’s been working at Franklin PUD as an IT Technician. Fite enjoys tackling computer issues and helping co-workers get back to work quickly. When COVID-19 hit the Tri-Cities hard in early March, AACCES knew this was another opportunity to make a difference in the community. The majority of the members are Franklin PUD or Benton PUD customers and see the inserts about Helping Hands often. Knowing that during this time, many customers would find themselves in a bind trying to pay their bill, Helping Hands was nominated and voted on to receive a $2,500 donation. Antoinette contacted the CS manager right away to find out the best way to get the funds transferred to Helping Hands.

“We selected Helping Hands because it was an organization that responds to the needs of any citizen who may be eligible.  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Stay Home Stay Safe requirements, AACCES wanted to provide assistance where it could potentially do the most good.  As we go through this trying time, we hope others will consider Helping Hands as a way to help others in our community, said Vanis Daniels, President of AACCES.

“It’s just incredibly generous of AACCES to support this program. We really appreciate Antoinette’s and the organization’s passion for ‘Helping Hands’. This donation will help a lot of people of our community, said Scott Rhees, Franklin PUD General Manager.

For Fite, being a part of AACCES has been a wonderful way to be involved in and give back to her beloved community. The group is small but extremely passionate about their mission. Their goal is to not only to help the Tri-Cities community but also let people know how much the African American community has contributed to the area.

“We’ve been here since before WWII. African Americans played a major role in helping to build the Hanford site. During that time, they were forced to reside in Pasco due to the racial segregation policies.  Records indicate that as many as 15,000 African Americans resided in Pasco between 1943-45.  It was a close-knit, robust community with small businesses that served the community. By 1951 it was around 1,000 people. It is currently close to 3% or roughly,” said Daniels.

Fite says it’s nice to work for an employer who’s committed to helping our community.

“I am a proud FPUD employee and a proud member of AACCES. I am pleased that my employer offers this program to aid those who are in need of assistance paying their electric bill.  I am also thankful to AACCES members (past and present) for the efforts to bring together, uplift and educate our community members.  I look forward to the organization’s continued growth and continued opportunities to be of service to our community,” said Fite.