Left: Event organizers Mark Lynch and Lois Kitsch pose in front of all the “apartment boxes.” Right: Desiree Bain, director and manager of operations, shares a bit about Willis Cruse House and thanks the crowd.
Helena, MT–June 11, 2019— At Montana’s Credit Unions’ recent Power Up conference, the credit unions joined together in support of Montana Veterans Foundation (MTVF). In the spirit of their “Forrest Gump” themed conference, they held a charity where items were donated to the Willis Cruse House, a program of MTVF, to help homeless veterans.
The Willis Cruse House is a 12-bed transitional home for homeless veteran men. It provides a variety of services to veterans such as hot showers, personal hygiene items, clothing, laundry facility, meals, phone, computer/internet access, and referral services.
Items were donated in advance, and a team of people sorted and assembled bathroom and kitchen items to help furnish “apartment boxes” for the veterans who are making the move from transitional lodging to their own apartment. Each box contained items from bath towels and shower curtains to dishes, pots and pans, ice cube trays, microwaves, coffee makers and a handful of other miscellaneous items. The goal was to put together 10 boxes, but with the incredible engagement of the credit unions there were enough donations for more than 20 boxes.
“We have been without funding since September. We have held fundraisers and garage sales. I have gone door-to-door, I have written more than 40 grants since September to make sure this program survives,” said Desiree Bain, director and manager of operations at the Willis Cruse House. “When I got the phone call with the opportunity to participate in this, it was by God’s grace. I believe in the program and I know it works and we are so grateful for the donations that were given.”
Since its inception in 1998, there have been over 900 veterans who have successfully completed the recovery program and moved on to lead healthy, fulfilling, and productive lives.
“When we first heard about the fundraiser, I went to the staff and there was no doubt we wanted to help,” said Tom Dedman, CEO of Southwest Montana Community Federal Credit Union. “It took less than three days for us to get the basket filled. It was amazing to see our credit union family come together so quickly for such a great cause.”