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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Mountain Home moving into new building – with Missoula’s support

Mountain HomeThis past Wednesday Mountain Home Montana cut the ribbon on its brand-new building, cheered on by the community. The nonprofit provides a home – and much, much more – for young pregnant women and new moms between the ages of 16 and 24.

The ribbon-cutting comes after a spate of recent misfortune, however. Floods, crib recalls, mold discoveries – not encouraging stuff. But it was met with an outpouring of community support.

As outlined in today’s Missoulian editorial, Mountain Home Montana could use just a little bit more support to see it through this critical time. It would be just wonderful if it could close out its capital campaign – only $240,000 more to go! – well before its September goal.

If you can help, visit Mountain Home Montana’s website at www.mountainhomemt.org or call 541-4663.

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Homeless kids treated to family carnival this Friday

The Poverello Center in Missoula has been in the news recently for its plans to move out of the old building it currently uses to run western Montana’s largest homeless shelter and soup kitchen. If all goes according to plan, the Pov will soon be moving into a new building located on the site of the now-closed Trails End Bar.

But this week, the Pov would like to turn the public’s attention to the fact that last year, its soup kitchen served 328 children. It also gave clothing to 572 kids, and boxes of food to 8,420 families – including 1,680 children.

Homeless kids. How sad. How senseless.

The Pov does a lot for homeless individuals and families, and one of the things it does is run a housing program through the Joseph Residence. The Pov reports that the waiting list for families to get into this program is currently five months.

This year, for the second year in a row, the Joseph Residence will be offering a carnival for local homeless families. The event will take place this Friday, June 10, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and homeless folks from the Pov as well as from the YWCA and Mountain Home Montana are invited.

The carnival will come with cotton candy and barbeque and games – all donated and all free to program participants.

“Being homeless is very difficult, especially for children. There are obviously a lot of grim days at the Pov,” Poverello Center executive director Ellie Hill said in a prepared statement. “But on June 10th, we want our kids to just be kids and forget about being homeless for awhile.”

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Report includes some info about Missoula’s homeless children UPDATED

The “Homelessness and Housing Instability in Missoula Needs Assessment 2010” report that was requested by Missoula Mayor John Engen and, on Wednesday, discussed by a Missoula City Council committee contains a lot of very interesting demographic information about the local homeless population.

Among the items of information included in the report was this:

“Almost half of the respondents were living in Missoula’s permanent housing when they experienced their first episode of homelessness. These were more likely to be women and families with children.”

And this:

“Families with children were more likely to report minor vehicle repairs, paying rent on a weekly basis, first and last month’s rental assistance, and employment assistance as needs that would help them afford permanent housing.”

And this:

” … almost 22% were living in one- or two-parent families, mostly with one or two children. Eight of the 51 families with children reported parenting a special-needs child with a health-related illness such as asthma, seizure
disorder, or epilepsy.”

More solid but saddening information about homeless children and their families can be found in this Western Montana Inbusiness Monthly article from January, titled “New data shows Montana kids hurt by recession.”

Here’s one of the saddest parts:

At the Joseph Residence, the Poverello’s transitional housing program for homeless families, it’s not uncommon for families to wait three to six months for housing. The residence averages 30 kids at any given time, and right now 10 families are waiting for a chance to call “the Joe” home.

“We have a crisis in this community,” (Poverello director Ellie) Hill said. “Little kids are sleeping in their cars or camping out.”

In Missoula alone, there are 457 students classified as “homeless” – with no permanent residence – according to Kristi Gough, program director at Women’s Opportunity Resource Development, which administers the McKinney-Vesto Homeless Assistance program.

Gough tracks homeless students and compiles statistics each year for Missoula County Public Schools. Included in the 457, Gough said, are 52 siblings in preschool.

“In elementary, middle and high school, there’s no one without a homeless population,” she said.

UPDATE: Today’s (Friday’s) edition of the Montana Kaimin, the student newspaper of the University of Montana, has an excellent story titled “Young, homeless, mom: An in-depth look at poverty and parenthood in Montana. It includes interviews with young moms currently living at Mountain Home Montana in Missoula, a nonprofit that, according to its website, offers “a place for young moms and babies to live, learn, get back on their feet, and start new lives.”

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What resources are available for teen parents in Missoula schools?

I was reading this article in today’s Daily Inter Lake about a class for young parents offered at alternative high schools in Kalispell, and it got me wondering what sorts of  resources are currently available for teen parents in Missoula’s high schools.

A while back there used to be a day care in a Missoula high school. It was called the Young Families Program, and it allowed teenage moms to take their babies to school with them and receive great care while they attended classes at Sentinel High School. Not only did the program act as a daycare for these infants, it also provided a meeting place for teenage parents to get together and talk about their experiences and share information about community resources. The employees who ran the program also helped these students connect with other forms of assistance – all with the goal of helping them stay in school and graduate.

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Holiday events benefit young moms and kids

If you’re looking to have a little holiday-inspired fun while helping out some awesome local nonprofits, you could do worse than take the Holiday at Home Tour or check out the 11th annual Festival of Trees.

The Holiday at Home Tour takes you to privately owned homes that have been decked out in various holiday themes. Tickets for a special VIP guided tour on Friday cost $50, and proceeds go to Youth Homes and Watson Children’s Shelter.

This tour starts at La Bella Vita at 5 p.m. with drinks and appetizers, then a bus will leave at 5:45 p.m. and make stops at three homes before dropping everyone off at the Missoula Art Museum for a party and more food and drinks. Call 523-0486 to get these tickets now because there’s a limited number.

If you miss out on the VIP tour, though, you can still take the self-guided tour for $10 each. Buy tickets at the Missoulian or La Bella Vita. The holiday homes will be open on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, all this week you can see beautiful trees on display at Southgate Mall and bid on the one you like best, with proceeds going to Mountain Home Montana.

And isn’t supporting organizations that help struggling young mothers and children who cannot be with their families really living the spirit of the season?

– MM

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