Friday, June 21, 2013

Southern Hospitality for Samaritan House!

Greetings 'Flathead Southerners' & Friends!

'YEEEHAWWW... Y'ALL!!' Mark your calendars!... it's almost that time again! Our Flathead Southerner's 17th Annual CATFISH FRY & Gatherin' is Sunday, June 30, 2013. 'Social Hour' begins at 4:30 pm, the 'All-You-Can-Eat' Buffet begins at 5:30 pm & the 'Program' (raffle drawings, silent auction closings, etc.) begins at 6:30 pm. See details, menu & price on attached flyer.

*Location - Vista Linda Restaurant-Pavilion 240 Boon Road, Somers, Montana overlooking beautiful Flathead Lake. The special buffet menu of 12+ different food items is prepared by Vista Linda Catering using authentic 'Southern' family recipes. All our favorites will be there such as Cajun Gumbo, Fried Okra & Jambalaya! Every year many folks say,'Please don't change a THING!'... so we try not to! TWO serving lines minimize waiting. No advance meal "tickets" are sold, simply pay at the buffet line by cash, check or credit card. PLEASE CALL EARLY FOR RESERVATIONS directly to Vista Linda @ (406) 857-3158... by Friday June 28. (200 maximum seating under pavilion + 100 outside seating) The Price is only $22 for all you care to eat of some of the best southern cooking around!

If you'd like to donate prize items or Gift Certificates for our popular *Raffle Benefit* & *Silent Auction*, I'd be happy to give you a free 'advertising plug' in front of an expected 300+ attendees! (Last year we had over $22,000 retail value in donations!) If anyone would like to volunteer to help solicit donations for prizes, I'd greatly appreciate the help. It's never too early to start asking for donations, so please let me know ASAP @ 257-1313 or by email. (Gift Certificates are very popular and get customers in to your business!)

100% of the proceeds from the 2013 Raffle & Silent Auction will be donated to Kalispell's 'Samaritan House', a homeless shelter and transitional living program organized in 1988. The mission of the Samaritan House is to provide shelter and basic needs for homeless people, while fostering self-respect and human dignity. For more info, visit their website at Checks for donations & raffle tickets made directly to 'Samaritan House', a 501(c)3 non-profit corp., are fully tax-deductible.

PLEASE consider helping this wonderful organization with a generous donation &/or buying lots of raffle tickets at our event which will be priced at $5 each or $20 for 6 or $50 for 20. If you can't attend, donations may be made online at the website by credit card or PayPal or mailed to Samaritan House, 124 9th Ave West, P.O. Box 592, Kalispell, MT 59903 (406) 257-5801 THANK YOU!

The 'Program' & raffle drawings will start about 6:30 & should be over about 8:00 pm. Please plan to stay for it ALL! Please help spread the word... tell all your 'Southern' friends & 'Southern Food Lovers'. I like to say, "You don't HAVE to be 'Southern' to attend, but it helps you to understand the jokes!"

Feel free to forward this e-mail to all you know and to even print off the attached 'Flyer' & post on your neighborhood, church, or work bulletin boards. I hope to see 'All Y'all' there for this year's 'Fun, Food & Fellowship'! Feel free to wear your 'Southern' shirts & caps. 'Y'ALL COME, YA HEAR?!'

Best "Southern" Regards,
Bill McGuffie (Univ. of Southern Miss.-'72) 'Go Golden Eagles!'
'Flathead Southerners'- Founder, Organizer, Host & Emcee

PS... We've added a 'Flathead Southerners' group on Facebook. Please "Like" us at the link below and feel free to post photos of anything "Southern" you'd like to share. You must log in to your facebook account first.

PSS... Our 2007 event was featured in the Kalispell 'Daily Inter Lake' on Sunday 07/01/07. It was excellent coverage with SIX great photos in the 'Montana Life' section! The link is: (Only the lead photo is on the Internet edition.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Value of Potpourri

I wrestled with the title of this article; I can admit that. In theory, unless a title appeals to a person, he or she is less inclined to read the story than if the title was catchy or offered something the reader perceived as valuable. I question the value of Potpourri because I find it sickeningly sweet and honestly, since the advent of Febreeze, I think it simply needs to go the way of the Dodo. So, the irony was fairly thick when it was the auto-timed Potpourri dispenser in my office that ended up jogging my cognitive juices as I tried to think of how to sum up last week's Project Homeless Connect.

This dispenser sets atop the bookcase in my office and it emits a cloud of summer fresh rain every 42 minutes. Apparently, this gap in time is just long enough to allow my memory to forget the previous spray session and the hissing cloud always startles me, causing me to jump in my chair. It would be embarrassing if it wasn’t so laughable. Okay... it is embarrassing. And, the only reason I even use the Potpourri is because it is a necessary evil to solve a greater problem: the stuffiness of my office. The exact item I ignore, forget about, and am inwardly annoyed by supplies a helpful service. I am just petty enough to reject the value because I don't like the packaging.

Project Homeless Connect provided potential services to more than 600 people. I logged some serious miles walking around as the event unfolded in numerous halls, classrooms, offices, and utility rooms. I was able to survey what was happening and it dawned on me that just like people outside the shelter, no two of our participants were exactly the same. There is a harmful and damaging stereotype that homeless people are "all the same" and in their situations because they "made bad decisions." I think this is just as ridiculous as saying people who are not homeless are all the same and their life is a result of good decisions.

Every person who participated in PHC had their own unique packaging. By many societal standards they had been ignored, marginalized, and even scorned. Untrue generalizations isolated many and sought to render them ineffective or useless. Over the next few days it will be my privilege to share some firsthand accounts from some participants. I will have some photos to post as well, and I look forward to hearing from any of you who would like to share some stories.

Every 42 minutes I am reminded how wrong I am about so many things.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stories From Project Homeless Connect

Project Homeless Connect is officially over and I will soon have a report, but I need to let my thoughts ruminate and stew for a while. In the mean time, I would love to hear your reflections or thoughts. They can be anonymous or I can attribute your name to them if you would like.

Please email me at with your stories. Whether you were a volunteer, service provider, or participant... If you worked in the kitchen or the coat room; fixed bikes or fitted clothes... Please drop me a line!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's PHC an event to remember!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homeless Connect Begins Thursday

Project Homeless Connect

Silence is interesting because it can yield several different results depending on the circumstances.

For a mother on a crowded bus with a screaming child, silence is a welcomed respite. I’m sure the surrounding passengers might agree, as well. For the grieving, silence can be a hollow reminder of a time when life abounded around them. Or have you ever experienced the awkward silence of a situation when an inappropriate comment escapes in front of the person to whom the comment was directed? Silence can only be golden if the noise it displaces is copper.

Right now there is a silence permeating our administration center. Boxes have been unpacked and clothing distributed neatly into various piles. Tables are aligned to increase maximum efficiency so people are afforded privacy as well as competent counseling. Literally hundreds of hours of chaos, scuttlebutt, and manic planning have all culminated to this very moment, for this very reason: to produce the silence; The stillness of the rooms and offices that have been converted into makeshift storage rooms, hair salons, counseling centers, and distribution points.

The lights are out, the center is undisturbed, and the coolness of the site will soon be dispelled by the warm outside air and countless people touring multiple tables and booths. Our doors will open and the hall will resound with th chatter of children and families. Discussions amongst veterans. Information from volunteers. The silence will be broken as Project Homeless connect begins on Thursday at 11am.

Let the loudness begin!

June 13: 11am to 6pm
June 14: 9am to 1 pm

Samaritan House Administration Center
1110 2nd Street West, Kalispell
(The old armory across from Peterson Elementary)

Free Services offered:
Medical and Dental Employment Assistance
Pet Services Financial Education
Identification Services Haircuts
Veterans Services Legal Assistance
Disability Services Vision Services
Housing Counseling Senior Services
Bicycle Repair
Hot Meals Served

I Get By With a Little Help From my Friends

Everyone needs help at some point in their life.

During Project Homeless Connect, we are proud to partner with the Montana Office of Public Assistance in providing a safe and confidential environment for people to inquire about any programs they might qualify for. It can be a draining process and sometimes people forego services because they don’t think the time or energy to sign up is worth the benefit. Other times people are embarrassed and don’t want to feel singled out.

There is no shame in accepting help in certain situations, especially when that decision impacts others who might be dependent on such an act. This is very true when children are part of the equation. There is no nobility or honor in depriving kids of what they need. It takes courage to accept help and we have all been in a position at one time or another that required help.

A very important service offered at PHC will be in regard to helping people see if they qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The process at PHC is confidential and noninvasive and the volunteer’s goals are to provide the appropriate information to help the PHC clients make an informed decision.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Many Thanks!

Today was a good day.

Thanks to the kindness of others, we are one step closer to launching this year's installment of Project Homeless Connect. Several community volunteers as well as young men and women from the Center for Restorative Youth Justice in Kalispell showed up to help sort clothing, prepare food bags for giveaway, and lend a hand in a few other areas. Preparing for such a monstrous event like PHC takes numerous hours and muscles and we appreciate all those who gave up some of their free time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Also, many thanks to Dominos Pizza, who donated pizza for lunch. It was a real blessing to have some great pizza that was provided by one of our local Kalispell businesses!

We look forward to partnering with all the participants who will attend PHC on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Out of Focus

He squints because everything further than 15 feet is blurry. At school he is always picked last at recess because he can't hit the ball. In the classroom he can't see the board from his seat in the back row. He gets headaches and has difficulty reading for more than a few minutes at a time. Embarrassment is giving way to frustration and anger. How can a child succeed when one of his most important faculties fails him?

Project Homeless Connect offers services aimed at helping people with visual problems. We recognize that while some consider the eyes the gateway to the soul, they are at least the footpath to gainful employment. If a person has difficulties seeing, then their work will suffer and they might be reprimanded for something that is easily correctable. The volunteers at PHC who help in this area offer an invaluable service to many who are in need of an optical adjustment.

See you there!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Immediate Need!

No attempt at humor or insight today.

Instead, I humbly appeal for an immediate need we have right now. We are in serious need of summer clothing for children. One service we enjoy providing for our upcoming Project Homeless Connect (June 13, 14) is giving away clothes. Currently, we are running very low on clothing for kids so any donation of new or formerly worn clothes would be very much appreciated.

We are focusing on summertime clothes for this event and are encouraged to have responsible readers such as you to respond to this request. So please, rummage through your closets or storage units to see if what items might be available for donation. Or, if you would like to make a financial donation specifically for this, then simply earmark it for Project Homeless Connect and bring it by or mail it to us.

Thanks do much for helping us out with this immediate need.

124 9th Ave West
Kalispell, MT 59901

257-5284 or 257-5801

Monday, June 3, 2013

Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

Many times we try to distinguish between a want and a need. The line is blurry and we tend to label these ideas according to value. A need is defined as something necessary for survival while a want is typically thought of as anything that would be enjoyable but perhaps not vital. Examples are helpful.

Need: Food.                         
Want: Steak and Lobster.

Need: Transportation.           
Want: An SUV.

So, what happens when a want becomes a need? When something that appears cosmetic is actually essential? One service that is instrumental to Project Homeless Connect is the dental work that local professionals provide. It can be argued that nice-looking teeth are a want because a person can survive without them. I will argue, however, that proper dental care is a need because the reality is that while it is difficult enough for many of our clients to find a job with a sustainable income, it is nearly impossible when their first impression is flashing a smile that hosts a plethora of dental problems. Employers want to hire people who can present an image of confidence and this characteristic is sometimes lacking when an individual is embarrassed or afraid to open his or her mouth.

At PHC the intent is to provide dental services so the client can walk away with more than a clean, toothy grin. And, while self-esteem is important, the end game is to put people in the best possible position to find work. The aspect of dental service is more than a want if it affords people the opportunity to better themselves and acquire what they need.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Dog, the Bike, and the Learner

What if your best friend was not a human. Now, relax... I'm not conjecturing about space aliens or that imaginary 'significant other' fabricated so your mother stops pestering you at holiday get togethers. What if your best friend was your pet? Animals can fill various needs in our lives that other people sometimes can't. Some pets are companions while others help us in a more functional role by assisting as service animals we depend on for more than mere company. They are a necessary part of our daily routine.

What happens if your pet needs services but you can't afford them? The helplessness and guilt that accompanies every stroke of the fur or refilling of the food bowl. You care for something  but can't provide for its well-being?


You need to pay your utility bill. Your rent is due. You need groceries.

All of these factors depend on financial resources. Most people want to work and feel the sense of pride and accomplishment attached to having meaningful employment. An important aspect of having a job is having the ability to get to that job on time. Forget the car; you haven't been able to afford the insurance and gas prices and the cost for a new transmission. It's been parked on the side of the street like a monument to frustration.

You've been relying on your bicycle but it has two stripped gears and needs a rear tire. You will be walking the 3 miles to work until this situation can be remedied.


It's the box you dread the most. A simple "yes" or "no" that weighs on you and robs you of your dignity as well as economic opportunities. Have you graduated high school?

Close to 9% of Montanans have no high school diploma. For a myriad of reasons, people drop out or choose not to finish and are labeled on every application they fill out. Forget going to college. It's difficult to find sustainable employment with a high school diploma, so the odds of finding a job paying more than minimum wage without one is Herculean. Education is important and attaining a GED can be the beginning of a path that enables someone to create a better life for themselves and those they love.

Project Homeless Connect is honored to provided pet services, bicycle repair, and education services. We believe these are critical in partnering with those who are trying to improve their situations.