This Valentine's Day, the Missoulian's editorial board is once again compelled to wear its heart on its sleeve and let those special someones know just how much we care. In doing so, we hope readers will join us in sending out a little extra love to the people and organizations that have done so much for us.
We can start our editorial love-a-thon with Watson Children's Shelter, which has for years and years done the heartbreaking work of taking in children who have experienced abuse, neglect and other forms of family crises. These are kids with no other safe place to go - kids who need a little extra dose of love. And now that Watson's has expanded into a second location with an additional 16 beds after concluding its three-year effort to raise $4.4 million, it will be better able to provide that love and care to all those hurt kids who so desperately need it. For its year-round commitment to our most vulnerable kids, Watson's valentine is a big pink post-it note, a daily reminder of its special place in the hearts of western Montanans.
We are giving more than 9,000 valentines to Youth Homes, which has offered shelter, treatment and TLC to that many children ages 2-18 in Missoula and nearby counties during its 40 years in operation. And why not? Love knows no bounds, especially when it comes to this community's love for its children.
If one man could exemplify that boundless dedication to Missoula's youth, that person could very well be Matt Stergios, who is retiring after nearly a jillion years of coaching Loyola Sacred Heart High School's speech, drama and debate team to 28 consecutive state titles. OK, maybe not a jillion - but number comes closest to quantifying the indelible marks he has made on the lives of more than 1,000 students over the course of his teaching career. Stergios gets a valentine - no debate about it.
We would very much like to deliver our valentine in a gilded frame to the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, but will refrain from doing so until the museum has some place to put it. You see, the museum is currently searching for a new location to house its impressive collection of more than 10,000 individual works of art. For a short time, the museum had its eyes on the Macy's building as a prospective new home, but alas, it was not to be. Currently, the largest publicly owned art collection in the region is still being stored, for the most part, out of sight, and what is on display often has to be exhibited in several different galleries in several different buildings.
The current exhibition of European masterpieces - including works from Renoir, Magritte, Gauguin and others - can be seen in the UM PAR-TV's Meloy Gallery through March 12. Be sure to check out the complementary exhibit, "Three Centuries of European Prints from the MMAC Permanent Collection," in the Paxson Gallery while you are there, and bask in the beauty of these collected works. Then show your feelings for the museum showing these pieces, and support its efforts to move to a more suitable home.
Speaking of home, we simply have to roll out our heart-shaped welcome mat for Octagon Partners, the Virginia-based firm that recently purchased the empty Macy's building in downtown Missoula. This company, which specializes in historic rehabilitation projects in college towns like ours, made our hopeful hearts flutter when it announced that it would begin by restoring the 113,000-foot building's original name: the Missoula Mercantile. Then it made our hearts go pitter-pat again when it announced it would provide the location for this past Saturday's Winter BrewFest, which was aimed at helping raise money to fix up and improve Caras Park. And in a meeting with the Missoulian's editorial board last week, Octagon's Peter Goergen outlined the firm's plans and projected timelines for the building on the corner of Higgins Avenue and Front Street. We liked what we heard. Now, we can all look forward to seeing these plans become reality, and while doing our part to keep the economic momentum growing throughout downtown Missoula and beyond.
We could go on and on forever naming folks who have won our hearts and deserve a special mention. Truly, this Valentine's Day our hearts are bursting with love for all the people who make Missoula a place we are proud to call home - every day of the year.
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