September 18, 2015
Bozeman Fire Fighters and MTCC AmeriCorps VISTAs
On September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance 2015, MTCC AmeriCorps VISTAs gave back to their communities all over Montana and  northeastern Wyoming.  Every year Compact VISTAs participate in the September 11th National Day of Service, and this year they did not disappoint. From Gillette, Wyoming up to Havre, Montana VISTAs volunteered at special events and led and supported local service projects.  Here is what our amazing VISTAs did:

Bozeman: Cards, Letters and Treats to First Responders
VISTA members In Bozeman created a program that engaged 500 local children to create thank you cards for their fire stations. They were able to garner free supplies from local businesses (ACE Hardware, The Children’s Museum, Costco and Staples) to create cards and received a donation of free donuts from Granny’s Gourmet Donuts. On September 11th they delivered all of the cards and treats to four Fire Stations in the Bozeman area; the fire fighters were very grateful for the recognition.

Bozeman: Community Café Clean Up and KidsPack lunch preparation
The rest of the VISTAs in Bozeman participated in the KidsPak program, which benefits students who lack access to healthy/proper amounts of food. They also helped organize the local Community Café’s food pantry which benefits low income schools by providing lunch and dinner services to a few low income schools.
MTCC VISTA members and a Food Corps AmeriCorps member in Kalispell.

Dillon: In Case of Emergency
Down in Dillon the MTCC VISTA planned a disaster preparedness simulation. The goal was to educate the staff at her organization, the Women’s Resource/Community Support Center on how to react in a disaster situation, while also engaging the Montana Western college students as mock victims of a disaster.

Kalispell: Red White and Blue Run
The VISTAs in Kalispell volunteered at Flathead Valley Community College’s Red, White, and Blue Color Run that was held in honor of the 9/11 day of service. Proceeds from the event benefited the Veteran’s Association Endowment Fund.

Billings: 14thAnnual Community Celebration of Life 
The MTCC VISTA member in Billings participated in the Annual Community Celebration of life, where in, community members helped clean-up the south side park and then attended a ceremony that included speeches from military members and awards given to those in service.
Gillette, WY: Girl Scouts American Heritage Badge
The MTCC Girl Scout VISTA in Gillette, Wyoming helped a local troop gain their American Heritage Badge. This included educating the girls on what happened on 9/11 and then helping them reflect on the importance of the event to our country.
Havre: Havre Remembers
Our members in Havre put together a service event at MSU-Northern to honor Havre’s service members and also victims of 9/11. Their local Salvation Army addressed the current forest fire disaster and collected donations for fire fighters and victims. Finally our members received 1500 American flags, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which they used to decorate their campus on September 11th.  
Missoula: Disaster Response Simulation
Several of the MTCC VISTAs based in Missoula put together a disaster seminar to address the proper way to address an emergency situation. Keynote speaker Sgt.  J.C. Denton discussed the importance of safety when involved in a high stress/emergency situation.
Missoula: Veteran Scholarship Fundraiser for Montana Code School
The rest of the members in Missoula raised funds to create a scholarship to the Montana Code School which will begin its Pilot Class this year. They solicited donations from local businesses including; the University Center at UM, The Dram Shop, The Montgomery Distillery, Five on Black and the Big Sky/Sentinel High School Booster Clubs.  They were able to gather $1,644.89; this amount will benefit a veteran scholarship at the code school.
Hamilton: Veterans Benefit Materials
The VISTA in Hamilton with UM Bitterroot College collected information from veterans organizations all over Ravalli County and created a display at Bitterroot College. The college now has a centralized location with all of the services/benefits available to veterans.
Great Falls: Great Falls Community Food Bank
The MTCC VISTA member in Great Falls helped out the Great Falls Community Food Bank by helping to unload trucks and organize donations. She also helped with the creation of 200+ backpack meals for students with limited access to food.
Overall, MTCC’s members made positive impacts in each community where they serve.  I hope these examples of exemplary service and program creation inspires everyone to step-up and become a larger part of their community.