A collaborative, women-led grassroots philanthropy group in Missoula has donated a big chunk of sorely needed money to a local nonprofit that provides safe harbor to women and children who are trying to recover from trauma.
The Women’s Giving Circle of Missoula County announced recently that its 2021 grant recipient for $10,000 will be Mountain Home Montana, which provides housing and services for at-risk moms and kids. The money will be used to pay for staff training and salaries.
“This strategic and timely funding will help counter global staffing challenges with additional training, competitive salaries, and additional staffing to ensure the families we serve can thrive,” said Mountain Home Montana executive director Steph Goble.
The organization has roughly 42 employees.
“Mountain Home is honored and very grateful to receive the generous grant from the Women’s Giving Circle of Missoula County," Goble said. "We deeply appreciate their support of the young moms and kids we serve and all the good they make possible.”
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Mountain Home Montana was established in 2000 and has offices, a group home, a playground, a licensed daycare and a community center on South Avenue near Community Medical Center.
The group home has room for up to 12 families at a time and serves over 80 families a year, Goble said. Mountain Home Montana provides an evidence-based education and employment program, onsite mental health care for both parents and children, and the state’s first trauma-informed child care. The community center also offers parenting and life-skills classes.
“We are advocating for women in poverty,” Goble said. “With the Women’s Giving Circle, we were really transparent about working with marginalized demographics, people who’ve had some sort of trauma in their life, whether that’s abuse or being separated from their biological parents or just having to couch-surf or live in the backs of cars. We serve the under-served.”
To do that requires a well-trained staff that can handle crisis, Goble said. People who come to Mountain Home Montana often come with an “emotional heaviness” that requires tenderness and patience.
“And we are in the midst of a labor crisis, so we are asking the staff at Mountain Home to step up and bridge these families to better outcomes,” Goble said. “So we like to make sure we’re paying our staff competitive and valuable wages and giving them professional training to handle the issues that these young families are combating. It’s a cycle, and we can’t expect poverty to get better if we’re only paying 12 bucks an hour.”
The Women’s Giving Circle of Missoula County is an organization that aims to amplify the power of women and people who identify as nonbinary by allowing them to pool their donations and then vote to make collective choices on how to best serve the greater Missoula area.
Terri Goldich, the chair of the organization’s steering committee, said the collaborative, member-led model promotes philanthropy and equity among its 100 members. They come from from diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of wealth. Every member has an equal voice, regardless of how much they contribute. The minimum donation is $120 annually or $60 for students.
They ask for applications every year, and this year the membership decided to ask for applications from organizations that focus on housing and homelessness, Goldich said. After a vote, the steering committee narrows down the applicants based on a rubric.
“I am as thrilled to have our recipient be Mountain Home as they are to get it,” Goldich said.
The award this year is the Women's Giving Circle of Missoula County's fifth grant since its inception in 2018 and brings the total amount given to $40,000. Past recipients include the Missoula Food Bank, Free Cycles Missoula, the YWCA Missoula and EmpowerMT.