Monday, April 28, 2008

What A Great Night!

The Rob Quist & the Great Northern Cowboy Up for the Samaritan House Concert & Auction was a great success! Highlights from the evening included Rob spontaneously offering to play a private mini-concert to the highest bidder! All in all Samaritan House was able to meet fundraising goals, we heard some great music by Rob Quist, people got some good deals, fun was had and more importantly we were able to provide for the homeless of the Flathead Valley. Thank You to all who pitched in, volunteered and donated. Stay tuned to see the Samaritan House video from the event.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rob Quist & the Great Northern "Cowboy Up for the Samaritan House"

Saturday, April 26th at Easthaven Baptist Church. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the music starts at 7:30 pm. There will be a live auction at 8:30pm. Featured in the auction are items including a boat, a kayak, artwork, trips, Cat/Griz tickets and so much more.
Put your boots on and Cowboy Up for the Samaritan House!
Some of the items in the auction are:
4th of July Package
Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks!
Fire extinguisher
Supplies for a picnic outing
$100 Schwann’s
Archery Package
1yr family membership to Spirit Quest Archery
Archery target
$75 certificate to Montana Taxidermist
All About the Auto Package
Car detail from Oh’s Body Shop
2 windshield chip repairs from Autoglass
Moto pack bag
Road emergency kit
Bobcat / Grizzley Football Package
2 tickets to the Bobcat / Grizzley football game
Autographed Grizzley helmet
Train to Essex Package
2 train tickets from Whitefish, MT to Essex, MT
1 night lodging in Essex
Experience Bigfork Package
1 night lodging at the Bridge Street Cottages
Bottle of wine
Dinner for two at Showtime
Breakfast for two at Grateful Bread
Shopping downtown
Eva Gates - $25.00 certificate
S.M. Bradford Co. - $25.00 certificate
Merry Gems - $25.00 certificate
Let’s Go Fishing Package
Pontoon boat from Sportsman Ski Haus
Fishing pole from Snappy’s
Keg of beer from Fun Beverage
Jerky from Montana Jerky Company
Get to Know Glacier Package
Witsend Cabin – 2 nights for 4 adults
Bottle of wine
Boat cruise for 4 adults
Half day raft trip for 4 adults – Glacier Raft Co.
Glacier Grill - $20.00 certificate
Golf Them All Package
2 rounds of golf with a cart
Big Mountain, Buffalo Hill, Village Greens
Meadow Lake, Whitefish Lake
Home Improvement Package
8 hours labor – drywall / paint (Amazing Painting)
20 gallons of paint from Sherwann Williams
Lilenthal Insulation - $50.00 certificate
Landscape Time Package
7 foot blue spruce tree
50 landscape timbers
Lesson with Alice Ritzman Package
1 lesson with Alice Ritzman
Golf club / balls
Autographed item from David Graham
Pig Roast Package
Pigroast for 75 / 100 people at Vista Linda
Individual Auction Items - Art
Allan Jimmerson
Name of art
Eric Thorsen Gallery
Mini sleeping bear bronze
First Interstate Bank Whitefish
Whitefish train station
Glacier Quilts / Mary Rice
Double size, western quilt
Glacier Quilts / Mary Rice
Queen size, ducks limited quilt
Mark Ogle
Heaven’s Peak
Nancy Codry / Glacier Framing
Signed “Life in the River”
Individual Auction Items -
Antique coke machine
Jon Dahlberg - drift boat
Melby’s – 5x7 rug
Plum Creek- CDF plywood unit
Rocky Mountain Outfitter - kayak
Samaritan House / Rob Quist – guitar & CD’s
Wrights Furniture – Rug

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flathead Community Health Center

This picture was taken a couple weeks back. It is Montana's Governor Schweitzer and some of the people involved in starting the new Flathead Community Health Center. We were awarded almost $2.2 million for FCHC.
I feel strongly about the need for more affordable healthcare. My feelings come both from personal experience and from seeing how the medical bills of shelter clients have led to further financial hardship and homelessness.
In his comments during the awards ceremony, Gov. Schweitzer stated that Flathead Valley has plenty of "who are's", meaning people with title and possessions. Then he mentioned that there are also people here "who aint's". This is who we serve.
Flathead Community Health Center is at 1035 First Avenue West in Kalispell. It is in the Earl Bennett building. It is a reduced cost/sliding fee health center featuring the work of Chris Holdhusen M.D. and Ginny Lewis F.N.P. Payment is based in your income. FCHC phone number is 751-8113. Call for an appointment. Their website is

Monday, April 14, 2008

Samaritan House Outreach Program Featured in April 13th Daily InterLake

Check out this link to the article as it is written below.

Signs of the times: Are they for real?

Posted: Sunday, Apr 13, 2008 - 09:20:16 am MDT

(SAMARITAN HOUSE Director Chris Krager invites Michael Jordan, a homeless man begging for money near Wal-Mart in Kalispell on Wednesday, to stay the night at the Samaritan House. Jordan refused Krager’s offer and said, “I like sleeping under the bridge.” Krager said he is out of work due to a bad back, which he injured while serving in the United States Army from 1976 to 1982. A homeless man, known as “Joe,” right, gathers his belongings after accepting Krager’s offer to spend the night indoors. Garrett Cheen/Daily Inter Lake)
The Daily Inter LakeHomeless solicitors often want quick cash, not help.
Even though Chris Krager spends his days working with the Flathead Valley’s homeless population, he still feels conflicted when he encounters a person holding a cardboard sign.
Like many other people, the executive director of the Samaritan House wants to help but wonders if the sign-holder is truly in need.
“When you see a sign-holder, everybody has — if they have any conscience — a mental struggle, wanting to help but not wanting to help in the wrong way,” he said.
Krager wondered what motivates people to stand on a corner or median with a sign. In 2007, he surveyed 68 sign-holders to find out why they chose to ask for help that way.
He asked other organizations and individuals to call him whenever they spotted a sign-holder. The only criterion was that the person had to be holding a sign asking for help, he said. He limited his response area to the north end of the valley.
He received calls throughout the day but never later than 6 p.m. Calls came in streaks, he said. Sometimes a week or two elapsed between sign-holders.
“Summer days and the days right after a holiday seemed to be especially quiet,” he said. “This could also be the times that my callers were not available.”
Nearly every time Krager got a call, he dropped what he was doing and went to meet the sign-holder. Sometimes that meant leaving work. At other times, he left from home.
His average response time was 45 minutes. The few times Krager couldn’t make it, a trained Samaritan House caseworker did the outreach.
His routine was the time nearly every time, he said. First he introduced himself by his first name and shook hands.
“I then simply asked, ‘How are you doing?’” he said. “This naturally led the person into telling part of their story.”
Their signs often indicated why they were there. Some simply said “Need Help” or “Fallen on Hard Times.”
Others were more specific: “Vehicle Problems, Anything Helps,” “Out of Money, Anything Helps,” or “Veteran, Need Help.”
His favorite sign read, “Ugly, Broke and Sober — Will Work.”
Once he learned a little about each person’s history, Krager introduced himself as the director of the valley’s only homeless shelter. He offered shelter, meals and help finding a job. He also handed out business cards from United Way and Flathead Food Bank and gave the person the phone numbers for Help Net and Neighbors in Need.
“Ultimately I would offer to pay the sign-holder $50, let them do laundry and feed them lunch,” he said. “And in return, they would have to sweep and mop the shelter, a job that takes probably three hours. When all of this was complete, if they decided not to stay at the shelter, I would give them a ride back to the place I had picked them up.”
Fifteen sign-holders took him up on his offer, Krager said.
“Samaritan House was able to help those 15 sign-holders in a major, life-changing way, seeing them through to self-sufficiency,” he said.
About half the people he talked to “declined any offer of help other than cash and ultimately refused any attempt to make them self-sufficient,” Krager said.
Local farmers and ranchers constantly call Samaritan House in search of day laborers; in recent years, it has become nearly impossible for them to fill their crews because of the valley’s abundance of job openings.
Krager told the Inter Lake in October that about 30 people he spoke to weren’t interested in working even just one day on a farm. They simply wanted whatever cash their signs might bring.
About a quarter of the sign-holders were gone by the time Krager arrived. He doesn’t know how many of them are duplicates and did not include them in his survey results.
All the sign-holders were outside Kalispell city limits, he said. One man told Krager that a police officer had driven him outside city limits because holding a sign inside the city was illegal.
Most sign-holders Krager met were men; only 7 percent were women.
One woman held a sign that read, “Husband Hurt Back, Need Help.” She told Krager her family wasn’t homeless, but made too much money for public assistance programs and didn’t qualify for any disability programs.
“She presented a difficult scenario of miserable limbo between being able to make it and qualifying for programs,” Krager said.
Just 9 percent of the people Krager talked to said they were part of a family. All but a few said they were locals; out-of-town sign-holders were more common during the summer.
“In fact, on a few occasions during those warmer months, I was told, ‘This is just a passing-through-town kind of thing,’” Krager said.
While talking with sign-holders, he watched kindhearted passersby give them money, groceries, coffee, dog food and phone numbers, he said. While he appreciates the compassion that moves people to help, Krager said giving money isn’t always the right thing to do.
“I feel that giving money to a sign-holder is not always the best way to help them achieve success,” he said.
He recommends people call Samaritan House when they encounter someone with a sign. When the call comes in, Krager or another qualified caseworker will reach out to the sign-holder as soon as possible, he said.
“At Samaritan House, we create an environment to identify and conquer the situations that led to the problem in the first place,” he said. “It takes more time and isn’t as easy as giving five bucks, but empowering people to take control of their lives and have success is worth all the time and effort.”
Samaritan House can be reached at 257-5801.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Out of Reach 2007-2008

(The following article is from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Check out the link to their report, Out of Reach 2007-2008. It has great info. It shows Montana's Housing Wage cited as $12.05.)
This week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released Out of Reach, their annual report on the affordability and availability of housing at the national, state, and local level. The report's primary measure of housing affordability is the Housing Wage, which is the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford a two-bedroom apartment in their community. Since the release of Out of Reach 2006 in December 2006, NLIHC found that the housing wage has increased 36 percent from $16.31 to $17.32. This is higher than the national average hourly wage of $16 for all workers and well above the average hourly wage of $13.94 for all renters. The report also finds that in 2008 there was no jurisdiction in the country where a full-time worker earning minimum wage could afford a one-bedroom apartment.
Additionally, Out of Reach provides side-by- side comparisons of rents and wages for each state, metropolitan area, and combined non-metropolitan area in the United States. For each region the report provides the housing wage for a 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom housing unit. The states with the highest housing wages are Hawaii ($29.02), DC ($25.46), and California ($24.01). The lowest housing wages are found in South Dakota ($11.19), West Virginia ($10.85), and North Dakota ($10.40).

What's the Deal With Cardboard Sign Holders?

Seeing more people in the area “flying” a sign, as they say, made me want to study this scenario a little more. I wanted to know what was the true motivation for holding a sign. What do the people need and why do they think that holding a sign is the best way to get it? Is giving money to the sign holder a good idea or will it just prolong his or her problem and aid someone’s alcohol, drug or cigarette problem? I also wanted to know if the people holding signs were just simply not aware of the services available in this area? I have an internal struggle when I see a person on the street corner holding a sign asking for money. I want to help, but I worry that helping that person with cash may be the wrong thing to do. I think most people have those same thoughts. I have heard stories of sign holders doing pretty well for themselves almost making it a career. On the other hand, some of the sign holders I have seen were truly in need.

I knew that in order to conduct this study I would need to have pretty clear parameters to get results that could be looked at without bias. I determined to use 2007 to document in a fair and accurate manner as many interactions with sign holders as possible. All results are unduplicated however if I outreached the same sign holder more than once I would offer the same help as I previously had without counting them in the study again. I limited my response area to the north end of Flathead Valley and I kept track of my response times. The only specific criterion for the study was that the person had to be holding a sign asking for help. I spread the word to other United Way organizations and services as possible asking if anyone sees a sign holder call me.

I received calls from Eagle Transit (the local bus transportation service), Kalispell Taxi, United Way, Flathead Job Service, Flathead Food Bank, local pastors, business people and a few I happened across while running errands in town. Calls came at all times of the day but never later than 6:00 pm. I noticed that calls came in streaks. At times there were one or two weeks without any sign holders. Summer days and the days right after a holiday seemed to be especially quiet. This could also be times that my callers were not available.

My process for interacting with the person holding the sign remained nearly the same every time. First I introduced myself by first name and shook hands. This brought the person to ease knowing that my intentions were good. I then simply asked, “How are you doing?” This naturally led the person into telling part of their story. Then I would introduce myself as the director of Samaritan House and offer shelter, meals, job search help, help accessing other programs and benefits etc… I always had Samaritan House business cards with me as well as business cards from United Way, Flathead Food Bank and the phone number for HelpNet/Neighbors In Need. Ultimately I would offer to pay the sign holder $50, let them do laundry and feed them lunch and in return they would have to sweep and mop the shelter, a job that takes probably three hours when all of this was complete if they decided not to stay at the shelter I would give them a ride back to the place I had picked them up.

In tracking my response time I averaged 45 minutes from initial call to arriving at the location the caller relayed. I was personally able to provide the outreach to all of the sign holders with the exception of a couple of occasions when a trained case manager provided the outreach service. Still with a response time that averaged 45 minutes, 26% of the sign holders were gone when I arrived.

The locations the sign holders were met were all outside of Kalispell city limits. One sign holder even relayed that he was given a ride there via a local police officer after he was told that it was illegal to hold a sign in the city limits. Upon further discussion I learned that this police officer scolded him about his alcohol use and offered to bring him to the Samaritan House, he was not interested. .

Most of the sign holders I outreached were male. 7% of sign holders I outreached were female. 9% claimed to be part of a family. All sign holders claimed to be from the area with the exception of the months of July, August and September. In fact on a few occasions during those warmer months I was told, “This is a just passing through town kind of thing.”

It is interesting to note that on some occasions sign holders would stand on the median of an entrance to a parking lot or store. Upon further conversation it was pointed out that this was in order to reach traffic both coming and going. I did not have any success with sign holders who used the median.

The signs stated everything from “Fallen on Hard Times” to “Vehicle Problems, Anything Helps”. Some signs I documented stated, “Husband Hurt Back, Need Help”, “ Out of Money, Anything Helps”, “Veteran, Need Help”, “Need a Miracle, Anything Helps”, “Need Work”, or my 2007 favorite “Ugly, Broke and Sober- Will Work”. Common sign themes were “Need Help” and “God Bless” I suppose this to be a more effective tool. I also noticed a few dogs accompanying sign holders.

“Need Work” did not hold his sign very long at all. In fact, he had with him a bag a carpentry tools.

“Husband Hurt Back” relayed that her family did have housing but made too much money for public assistance programs and were not qualified for any sort of disability program. She presented a difficult scenario of miserable limbo between being able to make it and qualifying for programs.

While outreaching sign holders I observed them receiving money, groceries, coffee, dog food and phone numbers from kind strangers passing by.

As a result of this yearlong study I spoke with 68 people on the street corner holding signs in 2007. As I mentioned earlier 18 sign holders or 26% were gone when I arrived. In all fairness, because they were gone I do not know if these 18 were people I had previously outreached or not. In my efforts to total unduplicated numbers I should not include these. 35 sign holders or 51% declined any offer of help other than cash and ultimately refused any attempt to make them self sufficient. And finally, 15 sign holders or 22% got in my vehicle or were able to drive themselves to the shelter. Samaritan House was able to help those 15 sign holders in a major life changing way, seeing them through to self-sufficiency.

So what should you do when you see a sign holder?

Based on these results and in good responsibility I feel that giving money to a sign holder is not always the best way to help them achieve success. At Samaritan House we create an environment to identify and conquer the situations that led to the problem in the first place. It takes more time and isn’t as easy as giving five bucks but empowering people to take control of their lives and have success is worth all of the time and effort.

If you see a sign holder and feel led to help them you can give Samaritan House a call at 257-5801 and a qualified case manager or myself will outreach them as soon as possible. Together we can guide people that truly want help down a road that will lead to hope, success and restored self-esteem. Samaritan House sincerely thanks this kind and generous community that gives faithfully to us so that we can continue to give our fellow citizens a hand up.

Thank you for supporting your local homeless shelter.
Chris Krager

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rob Quist & Great Northern Concert & Auction

April 26th Rob Quist & the Great Northern will be playing a concert for the Samaritan House at Easthaven Baptist Church on Whitefish Stage Rd.. There will also be a Live & Silent Auction featuring vehicles, boats, artwork, trips and much more...
The Missoulian named Rob one of the Premiere Montana Musicians of the 20th Century and he was just recently inducted into the University of Montana’s Fine Arts Department Hall of Fame. He was saluted as “a celebrated Montana musician and composer who has captured the spirit of the West in his music, an evocative and versatile artist whose gift of song has touched the hearts and souls of his countrymen, an eloquent proponent of the history and beauty of the West whose legacy in song will be embraced by generations to follow.”
Doors open at 6:30 pm the music starts at 7:30 pm. So come out, hear Rob Quist and support the Samaritan House. Put your boots on and cowboy up for the Samaritan House!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Unexpectedly Disoriented

˙ssǝlǝɯoɥ ʎlpǝʇɔǝdxǝun ǝɯoɔǝq oʇ ǝʞıl ǝq plnoʍ ʇı ʇɐɥʍ ɟo ǝɔıls llɐɯs ɐ puɐʇsɹǝpun noʎ dlǝɥ llıʍ noʎ pǝsnɐɔ ǝʌɐɥ ı uoıʇɐʇuǝıɹosıp ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʇ ǝdoɥ ı ˙ɥʇıʍ ʞɐǝds oʇ ʇǝƃ ı ʇɐɥʇ sǝılıɯɐɟ puɐ slɐnpıʌıpuı ssǝlǝɯoɥ ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ ǝsɐɔ ǝɥʇ sı ɥɔns ˙uʍop ǝpısdn pǝuɹnʇ ʎlpǝʇɔǝdxǝun sı ƃuıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ ǝɟıl uı sǝɯıʇǝɯos 'sıɥʇ sı ʇuıod ǝɥʇ ˙sı ǝɹǝɥʇ sǝʎ "˙sıɥʇ oʇ ʇuıod ɐ sı ǝɹǝɥʇ ǝdoɥ ı" 'ƃuıʞuıɥʇ ʎlqɐqoɹd oslɐ ǝɹɐ noʎ ¡suoıʇɐlnʇɐɹƃuoɔ 'ɹɐɟ sıɥʇ uǝʇʇoƃ ǝʌɐɥ noʎ ɟı ˙uʍop ǝpısdn ƃuıɥʇǝɯos pɐǝɹ puɐ ɹǝʇndɯoɔ ɹnoʎ ʇɐ ʇɐs ɹǝʌǝu ʎlqɐqoɹd ǝʌɐɥ noʎ 'puɐʇsɹǝpun ı 'sǝʎ