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A community making a difference and creating change

by Daily Inter Lake
| November 25, 2021 12:00 AM

Last Thanksgiving we doubt many, or any, of us would have thought this Thanksgiving would look and feel the same in many ways.

Here we are, still in the throes of a global pandemic, global energy crisis, global climate crisis, and still in national turmoil.

Yet, despite our troubled times, or perhaps more than ever because of them, we have the responsibility to one another to hold each other up, to give more than we receive, and to take care of one another with a strong, courageous spirit.

If we look closely here at home we find our neighbors and community leaders doing just that.

We are fortunate Samaritan House is in the planning stages of expanding its homeless shelter. Executive Director Chris Krager has proposed to increase the availability of housing for the most vulnerable community members by up to 100 beds — including apartments for homeless veterans. Kalispell is one of the largest cities in Montana without dedicated veteran housing and it’s critical we change that.

The dire need to address suicide prevention in our communities has brought a well-spring of support from a number of organizations. After a recent tragic cluster of suicides by young people, Northwest Montana United Way sponsored a town hall meeting in September to foster change. Representatives from Kalispell Public Schools, the Nate Chute Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Tamarack Grief Resource Center, Undaunted Family Connections and the Kalispell Police Department have all taken steps to address suicide by keeping the conversation in the forefront and organizing resources to help those at risk.

The Kalispell Education Foundation recently awarded over $26,000 in grants to local schools to help fund projects focused on student mental health, wellbeing and collaboration. More than 600 people joined this year’s Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention walk Sept. 26 and raised $43,000 toward the cause.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

All summer and fall, an army of volunteers has turned out at Camp Ponderosa, the North West Veterans Food Pantry and Stand Down’s considerable project, to help renovate the Swan Valley property into a retreat, camp and housing for veterans. It’s an enormous and worthwhile endeavor that, once complete, will be a caring center for veterans who need a place to call home.

In October, Logan Health had to open its temporary alternate care facility because cases of Covid-19 continue to climb in our county. We’re thankful our already taxed health system and health-care providers have the capacity to do that; that there is somewhere our loved ones can go to be cared for compassionately.

We’re also deeply grateful for the medical team under the leadership of Jesse Arneson, Logan Health’s infusion supervisor, who quickly developed a monoclonal antibody treatment program last year to stem the tide of severe illness and hospitalizations. As of mid-November, more than 1,700 patients, ages 12 to 103, have been successfully treated, many feeling better by the time they walk out the door. The treatment is now being used in 41 counties across Montana.

Caring leaders and professionals, volunteers, neighbors, families — this is our village. Here is where we begin — to make a difference and create change.

When we say our blessings at Thanksgiving dinner this year, may our thoughts be for the greater good and our words be carefully parsed for a community and, for that matter, a world that so desperately needs our love, and may the gratitude in our hearts shine toward finding solutions … and being part of them.