Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Helena area VISTAs spearheaded a food drive!
With 26 VISTA Members statewide, Montana Campus Compact has the capacity to leave a lasting community impact on National Days of Service, both 9/11 and MLK Jr. Day. This year Members found themselves creating service projects, collaborating with other VISTAs, and lending hands to existing community events and service sites.

In the Northwest region Members Maryelizabeth Koepele and Maya Koepke donated over 16 hours to a pet shelter overwhelmed with animals from families’ needing to evacuate Eureka due to wildfires. Troy Member Haley Spurlin organized a letter writing campaign for those same firefighters at her service site – Troy Elementary School. Students thanked these public servants writing things like, “Firefighters are awesomeness...dope...lifesavers and we thank them for their service!
VISTA Maryelizabeth Koepele with two Eureka fire-displaced puppies
Missoula Members worked to raise awareness among Missoula County Residents about a free public safety program, SMART 911. This program lets community members create a personal safety profile including information about pets in the home, children, medical needs, etc. The profile of registered residents pop ups every time they call 911. The SMART 911 profile also maps account holders on an octagonal grid so they can be notified in case of natural disasters or missing children in their area. The Missoula team reached out to over 200 Missoula County residents and businesses.

Helena Members, Shelby Lang, Rebecca Washko, and Zach Bernknopf organized a food drive for the HelenaFood Bank collecting over 1,000 pounds of food! In other food related service, Bozeman Members Connor Harbison and Aubree Pierce worked with the Towne Harvest Farm collecting crops before the first snow killed them. In the afternoon, they went to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank to pack food for those in need.

Troy Elementary students write to firefighters
Member Cora Crecelius also supported community food security, helping the National Centerfor Appropriate Technology, Main Street Uptown Butte, Butte Emergency FoodBank, Montana Tech, and multiple AmeriCorps Programs. She sorted, washed, and packed produce that had been donated to the food bank, working primarily on four crates of tomatoes, three of apples, shucking several bags of corn, and moving boxes.

Lastly, in North Eastern Montana, Poplar Members Kaitlyn McCoy, Kaitlin Willbanks, and Molly Bean planned and implemented a series of six Suicide Prevention workshops in collaboration with HPDP's suicide prevention coordinator and the state suicide prevention office. SafeTALK (Suicide Alertness For Everyone, and Tell, Ask, Listen, KeepSafe) trainings took place on September 13th and 14th with Courage Crawford (Spotted Bull Treatment Center) as the main facilitator. The 39 participants learned how to recognize signs of potential suicide and how to respond when suicidal ideations are present by asking directly about suicide, listening to the person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and keeping that person safe until they can get connected to someone trained in more in-depth intervention.

Overall, MTCC Members identified opportunities to step up into new service roles in their communities. These national days of service provide that great opportunity for Members to plan and implement direct service projects, and build relationships beyond their immediate host site. Thanks to everyone for their extra diligent and direct service!  

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