Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas at Samaritan House

Sometimes the holidays can be a tough time for people at the Samaritan House with no where to call home or maybe no one to share it with. This is a great time at the shelter, food, volunteers and presents for everyone making for a festive time despite difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Photo by Ruthie Krager

The years show on his face. His smile is only noticed with a second look. His bed and likely all his belongings are there over his shoulder. Trust me when I say that he's told us how grateful he is to be there. Usually every bed is full like this every night so he is one of the lucky ones.
Some don't get in and mornings like last Tuesday are why this is serious.

This has been an amazing year for the Samaritan House. We opened a new building, this came with repairs unforseen. The economic downturn not only affected our budget but it brought a whole wave of people needing our help. Truth is, we are coming in to the end of the year in the red but fully confident that we've maintained hospitality to the least of these.
One great way to help is coming Friday, December 18th. Fresh Life Radio is presenting a Christmas movie double feature in Fresh Life Church's newly opened Liberty Theater. At 5 pm at the Liberty Theater there will be a showing of Veggie Tales Saint Nicholas: A Tale of Christmas Giving and at 7 pm It's A Wonderful Life. It is a paper goods drive for the Samaritan House to offset the shelter expense of paper goods i.e. TP, paper towels, napkins etc. Admission to the movies is a donation of a paper goods item.
Several reasons to go... to support the shelter, your curiosity about the historic Liberty Theater, the chance to see a great classic film on the big screen again or simply your love for talking vegetables.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Recap

It was great fun and hard work. We fed a lot of people and kept a community tradition going. We fed around 640 people and delivered 347 meals. Video coverage by KAJ-TV here.
Here are a few pictures of the Sykes Thanksgiving Day Dinner:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Planning to Address Montana's Homelessness

Sitting in this meeting trying to address Montana's homelessness issue, it's a planning session. The federal grant source has let us all know that the grant that they previously administered will be changing significantly. The analogy that is being used is that the ground underneath our feet has just shifted.
Now, I've only had the opportunity to be in a couple earthquakes, where I live in Montana there aren't many big earthquakes. When I did experience an earthquake I remember thinking it was odd and looking for something that was solid and unmoving to orient myself to.
The difference here is that we are all moving through this earthquake together, only able to move forward addressing Montana's homelessness together. Renaming previous committees, involving other groups and organizations, setting new schedules, processes and structure. People are asking, "What are our constants? What is not changing? What will still exist after the dust settles?"
Carmen Gonzalez, Team Lead for Projects for Asssistance in Transition from Homelessness, MHC - Billings, had this to say about this process, "Yesterday and today's meetings reflect the strength, courage, dedication and determination of Montana's efforts to meet, share and brainstorm in order to impact lives. The power that comes with collaboration and carries on the Tradition of Compassion."
Hank Hudson, Economic Security Branch Manager, DPHHS, summarized this process by saying, "Reducing and ending homelessness is a vision that brings Montana communities together. Keeping the best parts of the Continuum of Care for Homelessness process alive and getting positioned for the future brings the best qualities of these dedicated programs to the forefront."
We are remaining focused on what is constant, sticking together and learning about the shifting nature of addressing homelessness. This process reflects Samaritan House's committment to serving the homeless of the Falthead Valley and Montana's committment to homeless Montanans.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sykes Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Photo by Eric Melzer

Doug and Judy Wise began the Sykes Thanksgiving Day Dinner in 1982 as a way to offer a free Thanksgiving meal for the people of Kalispell. It was always very well attended, estimates are that nearly 1,100 meals were served last year.
Sykes Restaurant and Grocery Store is closed this year so we will be hosting the festivities at the Samaritan House Administrative Building, the former armory on Meridian Rd.

Sykes Thanksgiving Day Dinner
1110 2nd Street West
Kalispell, MT 59901

November 26th, 2009
11 am - 2 pm

For meal delivery call 406-257-4357
To volunteer call Naomi at 406-752-7337

Thursday, October 29, 2009

4-H Livestock Auction

There are some great folks who helped Samaritan House by purchasing an animal through the 4-H Livestock Auction that was held at the Flathead County Fair in August.
They are:
Judy Sommers & Western States Insurance
Jerry & Cynthia Kennedy
Jay & Tina Stetson - Water Well Services
Frank & Peg Gebhardt - Alamon
Holly Walsh & Western States Insurance
Bob White & D.A. Davidson

Phil Olson and Rick Winkowitsch also donated beef directly from their ranch in Cut Bank, Montana.

Annually, the Samaritan House serves nearly 24,000 meals in the shelter kitchen. This will give us a good head start towards being able to do this. Thank you again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Girl Scout Troop #3381

Girl Scout Troop #3381 recently put together gift bags for everyone in the shelter.  Included in the bags were items like soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoo and all kinds of helpful things.  Troop #3381 is led by Brenda Miller and co-led by Lori Botkin, it is a Junior Troop from Evergreen.  You may know Lori as the Executive Director of the Flathead Food Bank.  

This project was part of earning their Bronze Award.  In the process they learned how to shop with coupons, how to recruit donations and much perseverance.  They called stores, Doctor's and Dentist's offices and little by little had gathered enough items for the shelter.  

Lori Botkin said that very little money, around $20, was actually spent in the process, "This was an example of salesmanship as learned by selling girl scout cookies."  

Some of the residents in the shelter had this to say:

"Thank you for caring."

"Girls, thanks a bunch.  This means a lot."

"Thank you for thinking about us."

"It is with honor and gracious joy that I accept your gift.  It is indeed testimony to all things that are beautiful, but, perhaps no where more special than a young girls heart, thank you."

"Thanks  a ton, how real nice of you to think of others."

"Girls, thank you so very much for the much needed items.  They were all things we needed.  As a family staying at the Samaritan House it saves us a lot of money.  Thank you so much for thinking of us."  

I thought you'd be encouraged to know about this.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shelter Need Calculator

This may be sort of boring for some of you but I am interested in this because it shows on paper just how overloaded the shelter is. The Homelessness Research Institiute has developed a series of interactive maps, calculators and charts intended to provide quick access to data on homelessness and improve understanding of important concepts related to ending homelessness. These interactive tools are posted on the website for the National Alliance to End Homelessness website.
Below is the Shelter Need Calculator.
The column titled "Currently Serving" shows the number of people we are currently serving and the current size of the shelter, with the end result of 41 Shelter Beds Needed.

The column titled "Flathead Homeless Shelter Need" compares the size of the homeless population in Flathead County to the number of shelter beds needed to accomodate our homelessness issue. The result here is 225 Total Minimum Shelter Beds Needed.

Keep in mind these numbers only reflect the shelter portion of what the Samaritan House does. We also provide Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing.
To quote the movie Jaws, "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat."
Stay tuned for exciting news about what the Samaritan House is doing to try to address this demand for services...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Open House

 Samaritan House invites you
to an Open House at our new 
administration building at the 
former armory on Meridian Rd.

1110 2nd Street West
Kalispell, MT

September 3rd, 2009
4:30 - 6:00 pm
There will be a brief ceremony at 5:00 pm 

Live Music & Refreshments

Staff will be available for tours. 

For more info call 406-257-5801

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Kitchen Grill Surround

Mark Woods of Swank Enterprises gave us a tremendously generous and much needed gift of time and materials and put up this beautiful sheet metal behind the stove in the kitchen as well as some waterproof board behind the dishwashing sink and a few other fixes in the kitchen that he just happen to see while he was there. These two projects not only make the kitchen look cleaner but also helps us protect our investment. Samaritan House would like to sincerely thank Mark Woods for helping us out in this incredible way!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Casual Fridays at US Bank Are Helping Others

Samaritan House recently benefited from the casual Friday tradition at US Bank here in Kalispell. Shown here is the staff from US Bank. In order to wear jeans on Friday they make a donation to a charity fund. Through this fund they have been able to support several area nonprofits on a quarterly basis.
Thank you, US Bank, for your support.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) School of Biblical Studies staff and students as they volunteer a whole day at the Samaritan House. They painted, cleaned and did some much needed landscaping.

This is Tony Smith and staff of the Kalispell Church of Christ. They are pictured here with the things they had gathered to donate to help the families in the shelter.

All of this work, the volunteering and the donating makes the following picture possible. This is William giving the thumbs up thanking us for his stay at the Samaritan House.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Painting a Big Hallway

Recently a group of students from the Calvary of Albuquerque School of Ministry came to paint a couple big hallways for the shelter. It was loads of fun despite how this posed picture may look.
I sure appreciate the countless volunteers that are here keeping the Samaritan House going.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What is the biggest challenge you've faced lately?

At dinner the other night Samaritan House residents answered the following question, "What is the biggest challenge you've faced lately?"
  • "Couldn't face anymore abuse and lies and finally chose to get out.  He forced me out of the house, I had to leave my two beloved dogs.  He has since left them at the pound and harassed me nonstop.  I am in the middle of a divorce and I am now homeless and find myself here at the Samaritan House.  Thankfully I am working full time.  The stress in my life is incredible.  Thank God I am sober and on my way back."
  • "Handling my chronic pain."
  • "Losing my pastor position and being estranged from my wife.  She is now working as a care taker for some elderly people."
  • "Not drinking beer."
  • "My health has kept me from being able to work any job for any length of time."
  • "This winter weather that doesn't seem to go away... that and the housing slow down has left me out of work.  It's hard to wake up and see rain and even sometimes snow.  I know that this means it will be awhile before the job starts going again."
  •   "My biggest challenge that I have faced lately ultimately is having to seek shelter here.  I have never experienced such things.  It has been a wake up call on my life.  It seems like my problems are minimal compared to some of the people who are here.  My boyfriend of almost four years has decided he does not want to reconcile.  I love him and it has been difficult, hurtful and sad.  It will be hard for me to start over at my age, get a job and rent a place for what I'll be making per hour.  My car is not working right and a medication that I need to take won't be here for another two months.  I have to figure out how to get that.  My boyfriend slept with my best friend and now all my friends are turning out to be his friends, so I guess I didn't really have the friends I thought I had.  That makes me sad and hurt.  My daughter sent me a letter and reminded me that after the rain there is a rainbow, to keep my hopes up and that she knows great things are coming my way.  I hope she is right."  

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ethan's Cookies

I thought you might enjoy seeing how well received Ethan's cookies were.

(See blog article of April 29th.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

This is Mike Wood, owner of the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in Kalispell. Mike is shown here donating extra burger buns to the shelter kitchen.
If you haven't been to Five Guys Burgers and Fries yet, you should. They have the most incredible freshness standards I have ever heard of. They don't even have a freezer all meat is served fresh and the fries are made on the spot from fresh potatoes.
Go have a fresh burger and tell Mike and the crew thanks for helping the local homeless.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries can be found at 2415 US 93 North in the Home Depot shopping area.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cookies are a blessing!

This is Ethan, he and his mother came to the kitchen today as volunteers to make cookies for the shelter residents. It is such a blessing to have fresh cookies and milk when the residents return to the building today after a long day of job searching. We love to have children come and serve with their parents and learn at a young age how to give to those that don't have.
This is an example of how the Samaritan House is able to make it, by the hard work, caring and generosity of the people in our communities. Samaritan House is supported by 35 local businesses, 19 local churches and 75-100 routine individuals or families. If you are interested in volunteering to make a meal or a snack at the Samaritan House please call Cary Krager at 257-5801.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homeless Children in America

The National Center on Family Homelessness has released a report, America's Youngest Outcasts.  It is now available online.   There is an interactive map that lets you research the specific results for your state.  According to the report Montana's Overall Rank regarding child homelessness is 33rd of the 50 states.  There is definite room for improvement. 
One of the categories reported on is Child Well Being, "A child's well-being depends on more than just having a roof over his head.  Children living in families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness suffer from hunger, poor physical and mental health, and missed educational opportunities."  Montana ranked 40th in this category.    
The report continues to show that children without homes are twice as likely to experience hunger as other children.  Two-thirds  worry they won't have enough to eat and one-third report being forced to skip meals.  Homeless children are more than twice as likely to have health problems, repeat a grade in school, be expelled or suspended, or even drop out of school. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Burgers Served Fresh - Over 100,000 Served

Pictured here is Travis Scott, youth pastor, and the Fresh Life Youth Group as they serve dinner at the Samaritan House Monday, March 23rd.  
Samaritan House quietly passed a pretty big milestone last year... 100,000 meals served in the shelter kitchen.  This is only possible because of groups like this and the many other volunteers and groups who pull together, volunteer, donate, cook and serve at the shelter. 
For many of our residents it is difficult to come to the shelter.  Experts say that 100% of the people in the shelter spend 99% of their time thinking about not wanting to be at the shelter, and that this is true no matter where the shelter is.  
The simple beauty of a person volunteering to help someone else in their time of need is powerful and it is exactly what helps us serve the way we do.  
Many Thanks!   

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 28th Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone and the Great Northern Band


March 28th Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone and the Great Northern Band will play a concert to benefit for the Samaritan House homeless shelter at Gardner's Auction Service. (Hwy 93 S., behind Mergenthaler's, across from Gardner's RV) 

Tickets are $35 each and includes concert, pig roast dinner, coffee soft drinks, dessert, live and silent auctions and ticket holder raffle.  Beer and wine will be available for purchase.  
Doors open at 5:00 pm.
Dinner is served at 5:30 pm.
Auction begins at 6:30 pm. 
Concert begins at 7:30 pm.  

The event, sponsored by Glacier Bank and Gardner's Auction Service, promises to be a great time!
Tickets are available at the Samaritan House (124 9th Ave West, Kalispell) and at the door.  
Call the Samaritan House if you have any questions 257-5801

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Planning Something Big

Just a quick heads up, these people are planning something big for the Samaritan House that my include some fun for you.  Save the evening of March 28th.  Stand by for details...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Presbyterian Women

Today I had the privilege of meeting with the Presbyterian Women of the First Presbyterian Church in Kalispell. This church prepares and serves a meal every Thursday at the Samaritan House shelter.
I was able to share what is happening at the Samaritan House, some of our successes and my research on local cardboard sign holders. (see link)
Afterwards they presented me with toiletry items, clothing and other supplies for the shelter residents. The Samaritan House would like to extend a sincere thank you to the First Presbyterian Church of Kalispell for their strong commitment to the Samaritan House and the residents that stay here. You are greatly appreciated!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Soroptimists of Whitefish

The Soroptimists of Whitefish have partnered with the Samaritan House to provide for a fully furnished transitional housing apartment on our property that will provide shelter for Whitefish area women and girls who are in need.

Soroptimists International is a worldwide organization for women working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. Their mission is to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.

The first family is a single mother family that came to the Whitefish area to work as a live in tutor. After arriving here she found that the position was not as it was originally described and it was necessary that she not stay in that situation. She is now working as a permanent full time substitute teacher for Kalispell Schools. Her apartment help from Soroptimists of Whitefish makes it so that she can save $100 each month.

The Samaritan House would like to sincerely thank the Soroptomists of Whitefish for partnering with us and making a huge difference for this family.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Estelle, Likely the Final Update

Great news in what today may be the final update on Estelle. She has moved in to her apartment. It is a subsidized apartment close to downtown. We were able to get a bed, linens and her things delivered for her. A gentleman who learned about Estelle by reading Homeless in the Flathead offered a bed and a big comfy chair.
Have we been succesful? The client, Estelle, is no longer homeless.
What did we do for her? We were able to provide shelter, food and a safe place for her to get healthy after her treatments. The community really did come together to help Estelle.
What could we have improved on? The truth is Estelle was easy. She was self-motivated and even had her own transportation. (Most of the people we serve do not have their own transportation.)
Thank you to all who called, emailed and offered support. Estelle made it through what could have been a much more difficult life crisis. This was a success because of your help.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Estelle Third Note

Estelle has been surprising the staff with the grace and dignity that she goes through her treatments.  She has been stopping by the bread store to get bread for the shelter.    
The cancer has spread to her stomach and her treatments are now daily.  She has continued to come in to rest after her treatment.  She says that she needs a couple hours to nap.  
Some good news, a local apartment complex called to accept her application for an apartment. Estelle says that it is an apartment that she can afford and it is close by to the doctor and the grocery store.  She will likely be moving in soon.  
Samaritan House staff was able to earmark a bed for her to take with her.  
Any day now she will have a place to call home. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Estelle Update

Estelle has gotten her birth certificate on her own. Having identification is necessary for getting an apartment or any type of housing. This is something that Samaritan House will typically offer to pay for but she did it on her own.
Upon further discussion about her late husband I did learn that their relationship was not as fond as I originally said it was.
On at least one occassion she did need to rest for the day due to her cancer treatments. This is a weekly treatment that takes a couple days to recover from.
Estelle has enjoyed Movie Night at the Samaritan House, especially "Bucket List". It sparked some good conversations among the shelter residents.
Staff at the shelter have commented about her sense of humor and ability to "work the crowd."
Estelle has set goals concerning her income and states she would like to find a job. Other goals include finding a house sitting position or an apartment that she can afford. She has made application to a few apartments in the Kalispell area.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blogging About Homelessness

There are several good blogs about homelessness. I enjoy It is a blog written by a gentleman Kevin Barbieux in Nashville, I learn a lot by reading his firsthand thoughts on homelessness.
Mr. Barbieux listed other blogs that are written about homelessness. It's pretty interesting reading. Some of them are:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Estelle Chapter One

Estelle came to the shelter two days ago as a result of her employment and housing ending. They ended simultaneously as she was employed as a house sitter. The house sold and she was given very little notice that she would have to be out.

Estelle looks like she would be a really nice Grandmother dressed very nicely with her white hair, oversized purse and a quiet polite voice. I did notice a tissue clutched in the palm of her hand when she arrived and it did look as though she had been crying. She looked lost and hesitant as though she was clearly in a position that she had never been before.

Estelle is 74 years old and has very little family in the area even though she is a life long Flathead Valley resident. She has survived the death of her husband, her children have all passed away due to cancer, tumors and a car accident though she does have a niece in the area.

I introduced Estelle to the Samaritan House Staff and reassured her that it's OK and that most people here feel that way. During the Intake process Estelle spoke fondly of her belated husband and that after his death she began sitting houses. When asked about her work history she refers to herself as, "A jack of all trades and a master of none."

Estelle does receive Social Security Income in the amount of $766 every month. Upon Intake she cited having $30. She does also have a dependable vehicle, a '99 Buick.

Further into the Intake Estelle reveals that she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and that it has gone further to now be Cancer in her stomach.

Most stories have some ups and downs. Let's follow this one over the next few days as Estelle finds her way through the challenges ahead of her. Right now her immediate needs are to find an affordable rental apartment, a single sized bed, a small table and chairs and the normal household stuff that would be in a small apartment.
Estelle will be meeting with the Case Manager to set goals and establish a plan of attack. I will update as the progress is made.