Volunteers of America lift veterans from homelessness

By Jonathan R. Jameson

 

The United States of America will be honoring our veterans for the hundredth and second time on Thursday, Nov. 11. Currently there are around 2,400 veterans who call Lincoln County their home but not all of these veterans have a home to live in.

Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOA) is committed to helping those in need through homeless prevention, rapid rehousing, and emergency shelter. Since the VOA began their programs in Montana, veteran homelessness has decreased by 34%. The VOA’s goal is to end veteran homelessness in our region by providing their services to veterans who have become homeless.

When Mark and his dog Deacon came to our office, they hadn’t eaten in a week. We got them into emergency housing, got Mark some food and, with the generous help of a local veterinarian, got Deacon a hearty meal as well.

Mark is a Veteran who had traveled from Virginia to Wyoming in search of a better life. The journey had taken nearly everything he had, and the disability payments he was receiving for injuries received while he served were still being sent to his old address in Virginia. He had nothing left but Deacon. Thankfully, Mark was able to get connected with our amazing staff here at Volunteers of America. After securing shelter and food, they set to work helping Mark achieve his other goals.

“He’s a real go-getter,” says his case manager, who has been meeting with him regularly. “He really stuck to his goals.”

They worked together to open a bank account, set up direct deposit, and get the checks that had been sent to the wrong address re-issued. With his income re-established, Mark bought a truck and got his driver’s license.

Though he and Deacon have a roof over their heads and know where their next meal will come from, Mark still comes in almost daily to visit the team. “We became his family,” says his case manager. “That’s how it is with a lot of these veterans—you develop a relationship and they keep coming back to visit even after they’ve gotten help and have stability.”

According to statistics provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2020, there were on average 21 homeless veterans for every 10,000 veterans in the U.S. This ratio would suggest there are currently five homeless veterans living in Lincoln County. In Montana the total estimate for homeless veterans is 165 on any given day.

If you know a veteran that is homeless; please reach out for them to get the help they need, the VOA Northern Rockies wants to help. To reach the VOA please call 844-486-2838. If you would like to share your story, please contact The Montanian.

Local photographer catches the beauty of the northern lights

 

Alan Gerstenecker was rewarded  in his search for the Northern Lights on a recent trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  His beautiful photos show the glorious dance of light in the sky. Photos by Alan Gerstenecker.

Lincoln County residents attend

Tourism Town Hall Meeting

On Wednesday, Nov. 3 at the Memorial Center in Libby, Lincoln County residents and officials met with Glacier Country Montana to discuss tourism in Libby.

A second meeting, this time virtual, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 16, from  2 until 4 p.m. You can register online at mmgyglobal.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMkcOqsqzIjE9LCNa7SfJxtCsijmPXY4iLv

Kootenai Valley Christian School’s Rake-A-Thon forges ahead

By Karen Morrissette

 

Neither rain nor freezing temperatures could keep the Kootenai Valley Christian School’s 2021 Rake-A-Thon from going forward. Originally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 29 but postponed due to rain, the Rake-A-Thon commenced in the frigid morning hours of Monday, Nov. 1 and lent a helping hand to nearly fifty yards in the Libby area. Involving around one-hundred students representing all grades except kindergarten, along with teachers and family volunteers, yards were raked and leaves bagged by teams. Older students were assigned to the bigger jobs, but everyone helped and seemed to be having a good time doing so. Due to the unfortunate delay, the city was not able to pick up the leaves during the scheduled time frame, but undaunted, the school managed to arrange for volunteers to pick up the bagged leaves and dispose of them for residents.

The event has been conducted annually for the past three years and serves as a fundraiser for the school. There is no set fee for the service, but the school  accepts donations. Income from this year will be used to upgrade the boiler that heats the school during winter. Any left over funds will go toward upgrading the preschool playground. While it helps the school, the Rake-A-Thon also provides a public service to those who may have trouble collecting and bagging leaves due to age or health concerns. According to Tara Niemi, school administrator, there are a lot of people who are excited to call as soon as they see the announcement come out each year.

The Kootenai Valley Christian School, now in its twenty-fifth year, currently serves 113 students. The school plays an active role in the community with events such as the Rake-A-Thon and a Veterans Day program that was held on Friday, Nov. 5.  They will also be participating in the live Nativity with other community churches this year and will be providing shepherds for the tableau.

 

Winter sports begin, Libby Loggers prepare for basketball

Jonathan R. Jameson

 

Winter is on our doorsteps and that means basketball season is here in Libby. The Loggers’ boys and girls teams are preparing to take the next steps in their programs this season. The boys’ team will be led by Head Coach (HC), Josh Bean who will be entering his eighth year as the head coach and seventeenth year coaching in Libby. The girls’ team will be led by first year Logger HC Todd Boehmler, who is teaching his sixth year in Libby.

Loggers boys basketball will look to make a deep run in this year’s tournament after last year’s early exit with returning starters of seniors Caden Williams (6’4”), Tj Andersen (6’5”), Ryder Davis (6’1”), and last year’s sixth man off the bench, junior Cy Stevenson (6’3”). Williams was awarded First-team all-conference and was an all-state selection and Andersen was an honorable mention all-conference last year. “We have a good core group of smart kids coming back that got a lot of minutes last year at the varsity level. I look forward to working with them again this season” said HC Bean while he watched the Loggers and Troy play against each other on Nov. 4.

“There is a lot of good programs in the conference. There will not be an easy night all season and every night is going to be a battle. We are going to need to show up and play. There is no ‘taking a night off’ in this conference and if you do take a night off  you are going to take home the ‘L’ (loss).” Said HC Bean.

A new era of Loggers Girls basketball starts this year with HC Boehmler. This is going to be Boehmler’s first year coaching Varsity High School (HS) Girls Basketball. His previous coaching experience was back in Conrad, Mont. where he coached basketball at various levels for nine years. “I feel I can make a difference that will help these girls on the court, but more importantly for the rest of their life. My expectations will be high.” said HC Boehmler.

“I am looking forward to the start of our season and meeting all our new players and parents.  The parents are the most important members of our team, without their support it will be very difficult to accomplish the goals I have set for this program.”  he said. HC Bean also added that he “encourages the people in the community and the fans to come to the games. When this facility is packed and fans are loud and rowdy, it is a really fun atmosphere for the kids to play in.”

Loggers Boys and Girls basketball tryouts start on Nov. 18 and the first games for both squads will be at the Tip-Off Tournament in Missoula on Dec. 10 and 11.