Mountain Home Montana celebrates 15 years

Since Mountain Home Montana began helping young mothers get off the streets and learn parenting and life skills, the organization has grown to include apartments and mental health services. Each year 45 families are helped through the program, and there’s a much longer waiting list.

Here’s more about the organization from their webpage:

We are a nonprofit in Missoula where young mothers between the ages 16-24 who are pregnant and/or parenting may access housing, supportive services, and mental health services.  We help these vulnerable young families with their basic needs, including safety, shelter, food, educational and employment opportunities, and access to mental health therapy and medical care.  Our organization utilizes best practices to provide individualized support and case management that teach our moms the parenting and life skills necessary for independent living!

Mountain Home Montana’s mission is to provide a safe, loving home where young mothers can discover their strengths and their children can experience the joys of childhood.

Community members have been invited to help Mountain Home celebrate their successes today from noon to 6:30 p.m. at 2606 South Ave. W. If you haven’t seen how the program has grown since it began as a three bedroom residence, now’s a good time.

If you can’t make it to the open house, you can learn more about what they do to help young families by attending a screening of “Gimme Shelter” at the Crystal Theater later this month.

The film screening is a fundraiser and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Mountain Home workers and former clients. More here.

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Kids Adventure Games coming to Big Sky, Montana

You know where Big Sky is, right?

No, not Big Sky High School.

Big Sky, Montana, the town that isn’t a town and is located in two counties: Gallatin and Madison. You may know it best by one of its primary attractions: Big Sky Resort.

Later this month, on August 23 (a Saturday), Big Sky will hold the Kids Adventure Games. According to the information I was sent, these games are held at “eight top resort destinations nationwide” and are “the only national outdoor adventure series created specifically for kids.”

Specifically, registration is open to kids ages 6-14.

Here’s the rest of the message I was forwarded, along with a video link!

The Kids Adventure Games builds confidence, promotes teamwork, and is THE most awesome-fun filled-adventure that a kid could have!  We believe in promoting a healthy active lifestyle for kids and expanding their view of what is possible.  Each of the events feature biking and hiking , along with some iconic challenges such as the Zip Line, Cargo nets, and Tarzan Swing.  The courses have all been carefully created for kids by our race director (and renowned adventure racer), Billy Mattison.

As an organization we want to spread the love for the outdoors and help kids challenge themselves in a fun, safe environment.  We also want to create a family friendly event that is inclusive of the community as a whole.  I have attached a video to give you a better idea of who we are and what we do.   I would ask you to get comfortable, turn up the volume, and click here:

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Work hard, play hard

The Silver Summit all-abilities playground is taking shape after three years of hard work and anticipation!

Volunteers work Thursday to install playground equipment at Silver Summit all-abilities playground.

Parent of a son with a motor disability and the driving force behind the project, Jenny Montgomery, said she can’t wait to get out and play at the new site slated to open in mid- to late-August — and neither can I!

Her excitement about a playground where all children (and adults) can play regardless of their physical capabilities was contagious as she gave me a tour Thursday.

Features include a merry-go-round, rain wheel, tunnel, climbing structure, sand box, play cabin, overlook area, and much, much more. The playground’s also spacious so that kids who get overwhelmed can take a break in the shade on the fringe and then come back to play more instead of having to go home.

Montgomery said she also hopes Silver Summit help build community and support networks.

While the play structures and features began to take shape Thursday, more volunteers to help install the playground are needed to fill 3-hour time blocks on Friday and Saturday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Volunteers should be at least 14 years of age, and will need water, snacks, gloves and closed-toed shoes.
If you’re interested, call or email Meg Rogosienski at 552-6271 or

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Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds free for summer

Remember using empty paper roll tubes as telescopes and string and cans as telephones?

Now you can pass the experience on to your kids while checking out one of Missoula’s great parks during Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds every Thursday from 1-3 p.m.

Here’s what Children’s Museum Missoula had to say about the new program and the partnership making it possible:

A free activity for families, Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds feature everyday items such as boxes, string, fabric and tape and encourage children to explore their natural play instincts. Children’s Museum Missoula encourages hands-on activities and learning through play and was inspired by the idea of Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds.

Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds, a creation of Pop-up Adventure Play, are part of a global network of organizations and individuals offering free, public events to support children’s opportunities for self-directed, open-ended play. Children’s Museum Missoula has partnered with Pop-up Adventure Play and Missoula Parks and Recreation to bring Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds to a local park every Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Pop-up Adventure Playgrounds will continue through August 28. A full list of scheduled Pop-up Playgrounds is available on Children’s Museum Missoula’s website,, or by calling 406-541-7529.

So happy creating! (And did I mention it’s FREE?)

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Bike for Shelter Saturday

Yes, this weekend’s weather isn’t supposed to be the best, but the 14th annual Bike for Shelter event promises to be fun enough to make up for cloudy skies.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Fort Missoula park area, and the fundraiser includes a bike rodeo, 2- and 11-mile rides, carnival-style games and even miniature ponies.

Behind all that fun, though, is a serious cause.

Each year, more than 100 children, from infants to the age of 14, call one of Watson Children’s Shelter’s locations home.

Some arrive with only the clothes on their backs. Others don’t know when their birthdays are. All need normalcy and a safe environment in which to be kids.

Saturday’s event is a celebration of that normalcy and providing for Missoula kids in crisis.

One Missoula kiddo, Zane Goicovich, wants to make sure kids continue to get help and has raised more than $1,000 to support Watson Children’s Shelter. Part of that sum is from his own weekly allowance.

Here’s Zane himself. He just learned how to ride with one hand off the handlebars and showed us his new trick. (Photo by Elliot Natz)

Watson’s reminds Zane of the Ronald McDonald House in Denver, where he stays once a year for checkups. Now 8-and-a-half, Zane underwent brain surgery when he was 4. Missoulians circled the wagons to make sure his family had everything they needed to get through the health ordeals that lasted for several years.

Zane’s been feeling much better these days, and said he wants other kids to know they can feel better too. Raising money is just his way of helping out.

Thanks, Zane, for being more of an inspiration than you even know.

For Ride for Shelter details, go here.


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Could it be that summer’s really here?

Considering it’s Montana, the likelihood of this warm spell turning into something long term is probably a daydream at best.

Spoiler alert: this weekend calls for rain and temps in the 50s.

Still, it’s hard not to get antsy to pull out the tent, blow up the raft and head off for adventure despite my growing belly.

In the meantime, it’s nice to hear neighborhood kiddos squeal in delight at some new adventure of their own at the community park or as they race around the block on their bikes. They throw themselves into playing catch or tag as wholeheartedly as if they were preparing to run a marathon or climb a mountain. For them, everything is a grand outing, full of potential for fun and discovery.

Missoulian photo editor Kurt Wilson captured this moment that sums up the mood around town …

happy kids

I like to think I haven’t lost my sense of simple curiosity with adulthood, but I’ve got to admit, it’s been a while since I got this excited about a garden hose.

Several summer trips we have on the books do have me giddy with anticipation. But even though they have yet to happen, I’ve caught myself thinking about the trips nostalgically.

Any float trips might be the last ones we take for a few years without having to find a babysitter. Biking Going to the Sun will be exhausting with a trailer in tow. Foreign travel might not make sense with a toddler who won’t remember much, if anything, anyway. And forget about pounding out 14 hours a day in the car.

When the gray skies roll in again this weekend — or when I feel like my adventure leash is getting tighter — I might just pull up this photo. It’s a good reminder amid all the baby books and admonitions about safety that kids are antsy for adventure too.

The photo will remind me that I am excited about helping Bob experience the world and all its wonders, even the ones as simple as a hose.

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Easter egg hunts

Saturday’s temperature is supposed to be higher than Sunday’s, but the kiddos can probably work up a sweat running in search of Easter eggs either day — and you won’t freeze watching from the sidelines.

Check out the list of community egg hunts here.

Happy hunting!

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Prescription Drug Misuse Awareness Week

Did you know that the average age kids start misusing prescription drugs is 12? Or that 300 Montanans died last year because of prescription drug misuse?


Missoula Underage Substance Abuse Prevention and The Missoula Forum for Children & Youth are shining the light on prescription drug misuse and abuse this week with several events, including a summit and a community conversation.

Already MUSAP, along with several other organizations, is working to prevent the prescription drug abuse epidemic from growing and has put out a Parent Resource Guide, which is chock-full of tips on how to talk to kids about prescription drugs, alcohol and more.

The guide is intended to be used frequently, said Brandee Tyree, MUSAP’s coordinator.

Feedback from the community has been mixed about the guide, but overall positive, Tyree said.

Some parents tell her, “Gee, thanks for giving me something else to worry about,” she said.

But, knowing what issues kids are facing, how to talk to them about the issues and doing so continually ultimately leads to a healthier, safer community.

See the resource guide here.

And if you want to share thoughts on prescription drug abuse issues, go to the Safeguard our Kids, Safeguard our Prescriptions community conversation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the City Life Community Center, 1515 Fairview Ave.

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Exercise and buckles

Water aerobics sounded like a great idea for a way to de-stress and get our heart rates up, so I grabbed a towel and my suit on my way out the door for work Thursday.

At 4:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. meeting looming, water aerobics sounded like they would get in the way of eating dinner, but I had already missed class Tuesday.

To go or not to go?

In the end, my shoes swayed me.

On Monday I bought a pair of sturdy, sensible Danskos that should be comfy through the end of my pregnancy and the heat of August.

Thursday afternoon, I bent over to rebuckle them after earlier kicking them off under my desk.

Let’s just say that if I want to reach the buckles in August I should go to water aerobics way more often.

And in the spirit of healthy lifestyles — the Missoula Family YMCA is holding its Healthy Kids Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday with lots of booths and fun activities (including pony rides and pancakes) for free!

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Sometimes a girl just needs her mom

For the past five months I have felt like a girl again as I struggle to find clarity in the uncertainty that being pregnant brings.

Am I ingesting enough vitamins? Will Bob be healthy even if I don’t always sleep on my left side and occasionally eat French fries? Will my water break when my husband is busy in a harvest field on the Hi-Line and unreachable by phone? If I haven’t felt Bob kick yet does that mean something’s wrong? Will labor hurt as much as everyone says? What do I do with Bob at home? How do I raise a kind, functioning human being? As much as I love my job, will I want to be home with Bob more? How will my husband and I adjust to the new family dynamic?

So it was with great joy I spent the past 12 days with my mother who flew out to rub my belly bump, make sure I’m exercising and eating right, and assure me that if she could raise three kids I can manage one.

When I returned to the house after dropping her off at the airport for her return flight I curled up in my husband’s arms and broke into tears.

Are you alright, Jared asked.

Yes, I just miss mom already, I said.

Is that all, he asked.

Yes, I managed to say between sniffles while Jared patiently waited for the something else he knew I was holding back.

I’m scared, I said. Having mom here was comforting.

I’m scared, too. I have no idea how to raise babies, Jared said. But I’m willing to learn.

His comment reminded me of a conversation with mom during her visit. I admitted I was in more than a bit of denial that our lives are about to irrevocably change and unsure about everything. I often feel selfish and ungrateful for the precious gift that is Bob because I’m scared and anxious instead of blissful and overjoyed.

None of that matters, mom said.

Just love him.


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