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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Mountain Home is one of several great resources for teen parents in Missoula

As the discussion about how best to ensure that pregnant teens and teenage parents meet their graduation requirements continues into the new year, I wanted to be sure to post these recent comments from the head of Mountain Home Montana, a resource and home for young moms in Missoula.

Gypsy Ray actually wrote this a while back but due to some technical glitches I haven’t been able to post it until now. Sorry about the delay, readers, but I’m sure you’ll agree these issues aren’t going away any time soon.

– MM

As a 17 year veteran in the field of social work, specializing in teenage pregnancy, I must say that the closure of the Young Family Program after 25 years was such a disappointment.

Missoula was ahead of the norm with a program like this and now we will behind the times without any childcare programs for parenting high school students. Although the Young Family Program was located at Sentinel High School, it actually served all Missoula County High School students.

Teen parents have so many barriers to completing high school that this is just another reason for teen parents to drop out of high school and get their GED.

Luckily, Missoula has other great programs to help teen parents, just none that provide the childcare and parenting component while teen parents remain in high school.

Teen parents can go to Willard Alternative High School, however there is no childcare available. The EvenStart Program at Dickinson Lifelong Learning Center provides a GED preparation program combined with a parenting program that provides some childcare. However, this is not a high school program, it is a GED program.

Other programs like Futures provide support your teen parents who are pursuing their education including advocacy, support group and case management.

Mountain Home provides housing and support for young mothers and children and require all residents to attend school, however, high school is rarely an option because of the childcare barrier. One of the recent graduates of Mountain Home actually graduated high school last June despite the closure of the Young Family Program, only because she had a reliable vehicle to drive her child to a private daycare and extended family who provided help and support.

In a community where Graduation Matters, I am surprised that Young Families are not a priority. This seems like an easy dropout prevention solution, but the same school system that created Graduation Matters also voted to close the Young Family Program.

Gypsy Ray is executive director of Mountain Home in Missoula.

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Missoula loves its young moms

The proof is in this story, in which a slate of local businesses came together to give Elizabeth Rainey, mother of 2-week-old Emma, a dependable car and a $50 gas card.

Rainey, a Mountain Home Montana resident, said, “This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”

I hope all of Missoula will join me in thanking Jerry’s Transmission and especially manager Chris Kuntz, the Automotive Clinic, Southside Auto, Big Sky Tire and Fast Trip.

And because I know many more Missoulians are aching to join these guys in supporting Mountain Home Montana, I’ll again point out the fact that Mountain Home’s Festival of Trees continues with a dinner and live auction at the Doubletree Hotel tonight, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 at the door.

But if you can’t make it tonight, there’s Teddy Bear Tea at the Doubletree tomorrow, on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon.

– MM

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Mom stuff in the news

I’m playing catch-up again, hoping to get ’round to posting about all the interesting news articles I’ve been reading lately. Since it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, I’ll just post a few of the more interesting, recent articles.

First, the good news: More Missoula schools met No Child Left Behind Act standards last go-around.

Then, the bad news: This will come as no surprise to anyone who has looked for child care in this state, but “Montana’s child care system has serious flaws.” This story, I believe, is the result of state bureau reporter Jennifer McKee’s recent search for day-care stories.

And don’t miss this story about Mountain Home in Missoula. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking, hopeful glimpse into the lives of some young local mothers struggling to build a better life for their children and themselves. If you’re moved enough to want to take action, note that Mountain Home is currently looking for volunteers to serve as board members.

– Missoula Mom

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New baby boutique benefits Mountain Home Montana

The Missoulian has the story of Mountain Home Baby Boutique on today’s front page.

Mountain Home in Missoula is a place that supports teen moms during one of the most trying times of their lives. It gets a lot of donations in the form of baby clothes and accoutrements, so a boutique selling gentle used baby stuff really just makes sense. And really, isn’t most baby stuff gently used? The little sprouts grow out of everything so quickly.

It’s a particularly important time for Mountain Home to be raising a little extra money, given that it’s planning on building some new transitional housing for its young mothers.

The new shop is at 105 S. Third St. W. if you want to check it out. It’s open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some Saturdays. Call 541-4663 for more info.

– Missoula Mom

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