NeighborWorks News

2017 Most Improved Winners

2017 Most Improved Winners

Friday, June 09, 2017

Volunteer of the Year: Paul Jermunson for spending hundreds of hours volunteering at the Owner-Build Homes project. In this program, 10 families build 10 homes, no one moves in until all of the homes are finished. Each family and their volunteers spend over 1200 hours building the homes. Paul spent his time with the families that most needed volunteers to help them build.

Board Member Recognition: Laura Goldhahn – Laura served on the NeighborWorks board of directors from 2003 through 2016 and was president of the Board for two years. “Her wisdom and willingness to take risks led NeighborWorks Great Falls to greater achievements and greater impact”, said Sheila Rice, Executive Director, “We are a better organizations because of Laura’s leadership.” 

Business Partner of the year: Stewart Title – Stewart Title, a great supporter of NeighborWorks for many, many years, helped implement the contract for deed financing program, participated in the fund drive (including a you-tube campaign video starring two Stewart employees), and closed the complicated Owner-Built Homes loans.

Realtor of the Year Award: Beth Duke, Coldwell Banker The Falls Real Estate - Beth was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, both as a listing realtor and as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls in 2016.  

Lending Partner of the Year Award: First Interstate Bank First Interstate Bank is was named the lending partner of the year, as the first mortgage lender for more than 20% of the secondary loans made by NeighborWorks Great Falls. First Interstate has been a financial supporter of NeighborWorks since 1980.  

Most Improved Rental: Margaret Apartments, Garry Hackett, 413 Central Avenue - Garry Hackett worked magic in taking the upper floors of the Margaret Building nothing to something. An old hotel, the upper floors now houses quality 13 apartments. Earlier, Garry redeveloped the Hastings Building at 609 and 611 Central into upper-floor apartment units and ground-floor retail space and he recently purchased the building at 511 Central for renovation and his home. Garry’s investments show that he is a believer in downtown Great Falls.  

Most Improved Residential: Lee and Sandy Houle – 420 7th Avenue South-Lee is a long-time supporter of NeighborWorks, having served on the board of directors as a resident of the south side. After growing up on the south side, Lee bought this home from NeighborWorks many years ago and has continually upgraded and taken care of it. This year, due to hail damage, Sandy and Lee completely resided and landscaped the home into a beautiful addition to the 700 block of 7th Avenue South. Lee and Sandy love the south side and intend to live there for many more years.  

Most Improved Commercial Property: Wines By Wednesday Event Center, Mark Tronson, 214 5th Street South

Mark Tronson has a vision for downtown and he is making that dream come true to restoring the long-vacant Van Tighem Metal Shop into Wines by Wednesday and an event center to use for wine tasting parties and concerts. The large space, including a mezzanine level with a historic backbar from Holter Lake Lodge, seats up to 150 people and can be rented for wedding receptions, company meetings and other events. The improvements include new heating and air conditioning, large windows, a new stairway and rails, old-fashioned looking Einstein lights, painting and a thorough cleaning.  

Best New Building Award: Cameron Family Center, Great Falls Rescue Mission, 408 2nd Avenue South- One of the largest investments in downtown in recent years is the Great Falls Rescue Mission Cameron Family Center, built to provide the temporary home where no homeless family suffers and struggles alone, and where families do not have to be separated in order to receive the help they need. Prior to the opening, there were no facilities in North Central Montana that provided a shelter for families with children. The Center features 13 private rooms with private bathrooms and four dorms for temporary residents, a day-care center so parents can take classes and look for jobs and assistance programs, living rooms, community chapels, a family-style eating atmosphere and community kitchens.  

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: St. Vincent de Paul Grace Home, 2211 5th Avenue North - The Grace Home Veteran's Center is operating by St Vincent De Paul Society as a veterans transition facility and was very well supported by active and retired military and other citizens who came to build, decorate, trim trees and to clean up debris. Prior to Grace Home opening, Great Falls was the only community in the state that did not have any transitional living place for veterans. The Grace Home repurposes a building which started life as a monastery, continued as a mental health residential center, and now finds a new purpose in sheltering veterans


Executive Director Transition

Executive Director Transition

Friday, June 09, 2017


With this letter, I wanted to let all of our wonderful supporters know that I am retiring in early 2018. When I came to NeighborWorks Great Falls nearly 15 years ago, my plan was to stay until 2018 and then yield this wonderful job to the next Executive Director. The Board of Directors, specifically the Transition Committee, is working with Third Sector Company to assure a smooth transition to the next Executive Director.

My experience at NeighborWorks has been wonderful for every single one of those 15 years. To see our homeowners succeed and build wealth for future generations, to watch the joy of a family moving into a quality apartment, to help community residents grow into leaders, to experience the changes in our neighborhoods – these are the rewards of leading NeighborWorks.

I have so many to thank – the NeighborWorks board for their vision and leadership; our staff for their hard work and love of mission; the volunteers who raise money, build houses and help in the office; our supporters who believe in our mission and contribute to our annual campaign, make endowment gifts or name us in their wills and finally to the neighborhood residents who love their neighborhoods as much as we do.

To everyone who has helped build this incredibly impactful organization over the past 37 years, pat yourself on the back and know that you are a tremendous part of building a better Great Falls.

Sheila Rice, Executive Director, 2003-2018

Interested applicants please see our career opportunities page.

Community Engagement is Key

Friday, June 09, 2017
Building and rehabilitating homes can only take a community so far. Community engagement is key to healthy, happy neighborhoods. NeighborWorks Great Falls is dedicated to both.Why is this important? Because people are not as connected to each other or to their communities as they used to be. This isn’t just a Great Falls or Montana issue; it’s a long-standing nationwide problem. In 2000, author Robert Putnam interviewed hundreds of thousands of people, and based on that vast data, determined that we in the U.S. have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures. We now sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often (see Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community). These findings came before widespread use of email and before social media, all which make us even more isolated. Because of these changes in our social fabric, it is imperative that everyone get involved in their neighborhood and their community. It’s hard work and there aren’t easy solutions, but as cliché as it sounds, one person can truly make a positive difference. NeighborWorks’ community engagement programs work to bring residents, neighbors, organizations and resources together to make a positive impact.


Here are some of NeighborWorks Great Falls programs that you can get involved in to build on the assets of your neighborhood:
Addressing Crime and Safety:Worried about crime in your neighborhood? NeighborWorks coordinates Neighborhood Watch throughout Cascade County and works with partners to do downtown Business Watch, Coins for a Cause (panhandling), and Operation Medicine Cabinet: Central Montana (prescription drug drop box), MApril Clean-up and others. We work with the Neighborhood Councils, the Black Eagle Civic Club and the residents of Cascade County with Neighborhood Watch. NeighborWorks Great Falls is also a leader of the Downtown Safety Alliance, with Neighborhood Council #7, the Business Improvement District, the Great Falls Police Department, the Downtown Development Partnership, local faith communities, and others.
Revitalization:Downtown Great Falls has many people, organizations, partners and stakeholders working to make the downtown more vibrant and NeighborWorks is a part of that team. Do you think we need more outdoor dining downtown? More art and murals? More historic buildings renovated? Want to open a new, unique restaurant downtown? Looking for a grant to fix the façade on your downtown building? Need a loan to fix up your rental property? NeighborWorks Great Falls can help direct you to the organizations that operate these programs in our community.


What solutions have you found that might make Great Falls more safe, vibrant and livable? Let NeighborWorks know and get involved!


Carol Bronson, Community Engagement Coordinator 

NeighborWorks Endowment

NeighborWorks Endowment

Friday, June 09, 2017

The NeighborWorks’ Great Falls Endowment goal is $2.5 million. These funds will allow NeighborWorks Great Falls to help 100 families into homeownership, every year, forever.

NeighborWorks Great Falls started an Endowment fund several years ago, after the death of long-time supporter Frank Shaw. Jump started by a $100,000 gift from former Board president and neighborhood resident, Bill Roberts and the Roberts Family Foundation, the Endowment has now grown to just under a half million dollars.An endowment is a donation of funds held in perpetuity for a charitable benefit. The earnings from the endowment are used to support the work of NeighborWorks far into the future. An endowment can be funded in a variety of ways, including cash, securities or a bequest in your will.The state of Montana has the unique advantage of the Endowment Tax Credit, where the donor receives a tax credit of 40% of the value of the donation of a planned gift. A planned gift can be a gift annuity, a life insurance policy or similar type of gift. For businesses, the Endowment Tax Credit offers a 20% tax credit for a cash or other gift and does not require a planned gift.Under the capable direction of board member Cari Yturri, the Endowment Committee is working on the next stage of the Endowment, preparing to ask NeighborWorks supporters to make an investment in our future by pledging to the Endowment.

A gift of $25,000 provides enough earnings to create one new homeowner every year forever. A gift of $50,000 supports two homeowners forever and so on. NeighborWorks’ supporters who make an Endowment gift will know that their generosity will live on through local homeowners for years to come. For more information, please visit the NeighborWorks Great Falls Endowment Page.

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