NeighborWorks News

Downtown Safety: Coins for a Cause

Downtown Safety: Coins for a Cause

Monday, July 23, 2018

Responding to panhandlers can be a tricky situation. Great Falls’ Coins for a Cause program addresses panhandling downtown at the root level by giving to more long term homelessness solutions.

Giving panhandlers spare change is a short-term remedy that perpetuates the cycle of poverty in our community; it neither creates nor facilitates long-term solutions. NeighborWorks Great Falls along with many other community stakeholders are deeply involved in working towards a safer, more vibrant downtown – with Coins for a Cause being a major tactic in this endeavor.

NeighborWorks Great Falls chairs the Downtown Safety Alliance, which created the Coins for a Cause program. The Great Falls Business Improvement District manages the program; giving 100% of donations to direct homelessness service providers. To date, over $2,400 has been donated to the Great Falls Rescue Mission, the YWCA, Opportunities, Inc., the Grace Home and the Great Falls Police Department Volunteer Program.

The program originally started in 2012 with nine collection boxes downtown, and has grown to over 20 locations in the past six years. New this year are eight blue boxes attached to light poles on the 400-500 block of Central Avenue. The Great Falls Business Improvement District provided the funding for the boxes and the marketing materials were generously provided by Speaking Socially Media Management.

Be sure to look out for updated collection containers at these, and many other, locations:Dragonfly Dry Goods, Cassiopeia Books, Feather Your Nest, Taco del Sol, Kaufman’s Menswear, Ferrins Furniture, Bert & Ernie’s and Hi-Line Climbing Center.

Donating spare change to Coins for a Cause helps to curb panhandling, support local organizations, and provide assistance to those in need. Learn more about panhanding and the Coins for a Cause program by clicking here to check out the Great Falls Police Department video about panhandling.


2018 Most Improved Award Winners

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Today, NeighborWorks celebrated improvements in Great Falls at the Annual Most Improved Awards. These awards honor folks who improve our city and the property owners who have invested their hard-earned funds into the historic neighborhoods of Great Falls. The 2018 Award Winners are listed below.

Most Improved Rental – Joel and Jenny Todd, 624 5th Avenue South:

This blighted property sat vacant for 17 years when a buyer out of Bozeman bought it off of a tax sale and was overwhelmed with the project. Soon after, Joel and Jenny Todd purchased this property for its beauty, character and historical features and set to work. They installed a new boiler, new sewer, new windows, refinished staircases, re-plumbed, rewired, re-roofed, and repainted (just to name a few things). There are five units located within the property.

Most Improved Residential – Michael Croscutt, 2301 Central Avenue:

Michael’s son purchased the house in 2008. They started out with the foundation and went on to gutting the house and remodeling it. This most improved award is 10 years of hard work and determination in the making. Thank you for helping beautify our community!

Most Improved Commercial Property - The Diegel Building, 26 4th Street North:

The Diegel Building has been under renovation since September of 2016. The owners, Paul and Tom Diegel and the property manager, Allison Smith have worked hard and still are planning more finishing touches. The building was 4 or 5 separate structures at one point and now house Keen Kut, Gateway and formerly Sutherlands.

Best New Building Award: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Great Falls 421 3rd St NW:

They started construction in January 2017 and opened on April 12, 2018. The hotel boasts 4 floors, with 132 suites, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center and 4 meeting rooms with over 2600 square feet of meeting space. Located on the Missouri River in the heart of Montana, Great Falls provides a base camp for a wide range of outdoor adventures and offers a haven of rich arts, and culture.

Best New Downtown Building Award - Lithia Motors, 800 Central Avenue:

They purchased the building from Bennett Motors in 2015 and started construction in October of 2015. Construction was finished in February 2018 and grand opening is set for late summer.

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: Peak West Bank Landing, 401 3rd Street NW:

The building was built in the early 1880's and was part of the first settlement in the area as a hub for the BNSF Railway. The renovation and construction started in the beginning of 2017 and just opened the facility in January of 2018. The facility is located on the Missouri River that boasts 15,000 square feet of amenities including first class equipment – state of the art cardio machines, and a spacious equipment floor, 3 studios, and a kids club childcare.

Volunteer of the Year – Sandy Rice:

Sandy has made Great Falls a better place to live for many years volunteering at Meals on Wheels, joining the AAUW, and getting appointed, then elected to Neighborhood Council 7, and the Downtown Safety Alliance. As a member of the Safety Alliance, she visited all of the Councils to talk about safety downtown, pan-handling diversion and bringing good news about the ascendancy of Downtown as THE place to shop, eat, play, live and recreate. Sandy loves living in the downtown neighborhood and does her best to make it a better place to live always picking up trash and keeping her eyes open for more ways to make Downtown Great Falls a great place.

NeighborWorks Board Member Recognition – Brett Doney:

Brett is the President and CEO of the Great Falls Development Authority and High Plains Financial. He has over 30 years’ experience leading economic development organizations. He was a NeighborWorks Board member for nine years and always had great input to bring NeighborWorks to a new level.

Business Partner of the Year - Leonard Lundby – Triangle Turf:

Leonard at Triangle Turf is always one of NeighborWorks’ most pleasant vendors. NeighborWorks Great Falls has been working with him for 8 years with our Sod and Spray program every spring. Leonard is a fantastic supporter of NeighborWorks.

Realtor of the Year - Polly Pearson/Abby Williams, Keller Williams:

Keller Williams was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, as a listing realtor and even a few as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls.Thank you for helping our customers become homeowners!

Lending Partner of the Year – Doug Spence, Embark Credit Union:

Doug is a lender that goes above and beyond always finding the best product for his clients. Doug was involved in the most transactions with NeighborWorks loan products. Doug is always helpful and attentive to each of his customers – he looks at where they are at and gives them every option he can find in order to get them into a home. He loves to help people and always guides them in the right direction with a smile.

Local Neighbors Come Together to Celebrate Community during National NeighborWorks Week

Local Neighbors Come Together to Celebrate Community during National NeighborWorks Week

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Great Falls, MT— The week of June 2nd – 9th residents and supporters will celebrate what makes Great Falls unique, as part of a week-long celebration of neighborhood activities nationally recognized as NeighborWorks Week.

During NeighborWorks Week, NeighborWorks Great Falls and other NeighborWorks organizations across the country will mobilize tens of thousands of residents, business people and government officials in a week of neighborhood change and awareness, including painting and landscaping properties, recognizing successful partnerships and hosting a number of events that educate, train and inform. NeighborWorks Great Falls will celebrate with two events. First the Most Improved Awards, which are meant to honor and celebrate those who have invested in our community. This year’s celebration will be held at the Springhill Suites at noon on June 6th. The second event is NeighborWorks annual Neighborhood Tour – this event will showcase the impact and positive change in our community over the past 38 years. This tour will be on a 32 passenger limo bus on June 7th at 2:30pm. For more information on either event, visit: or call NeighborWorks office at 406-761-5861.

The 2018 NeighborWorks Week theme is “Advancing Opportunity,” and NeighborWorks organizations advance opportunity by empowering residents and communities with the tools, skills and services they need to help everyone thrive. The National NeighborWorks network is celebrating their 40th year in 2018.

Sherrie Arey, NeighborWorks Executive Director says, “The impact of the NeighborWorks network is far spread throughout the country, NeighborWorks Great Falls is proud to be a network partner and participate in celebrating the advancement of opportunities in our community, as well as on a national level over the last 40 years”.

NeighborWorks Great Falls is part of the national NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of more than 240 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Over the past 40 years, NeighborWorks and its network have assisted close to 8 million people through affordable housing and counseling. In 2017, the NeighborWorks network provided housing and counseling services to 455,100 people, repaired 71,300 homes, and created and maintained 43,600 jobs.The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

40th High School House Completed

40th High School House Completed

Friday, May 18, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools celebrated the completion of the 2018 High School House yesterday with students, teachers, and the support of many community members. This year Great Falls High and CMR Students worked together to build the home. Students from both schools worked throughout the school year to build the home from the ground up located at 2108 6 th Ave South. Interior design students choose the finishings of the home. Each year, four students, two from CMR and two from Great Falls High are chosen as Student Builder of the Year and Design Student of the Year. This year’s winners from CMR included Joel Lorang as Student Builder of the Year and Teagan Tabacco as Design Student of the Year. Great Falls High winners included Thain Johnson as Builder of the Year, and Brynn Dart as Design Student of the Year. All four students received a plaque for their accomplishment and $100. Great Falls Public Schools’ Student Culinary Program also participated by providing appetizers and desserts for open house guests. NeighborWorks would like to thank the many community partners involved in making this project possible year after year.

About The High School House Program

NeighborWorks Great Falls was founded in 1980 with a mission to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing and help residents become first-time homebuyers. A primary strategy in our work is collaboration with local partners, and one of the most significant examples of this is our High School House program.

NeighborWorks Great Falls joined forces with Great Falls public schools to create the program, which provides new homes for residents with low or moderate incomes and gives high school students valuable employment skills. The students provide the labor while NeighborWorks supplies the lot, arranges subcontractors and finances the construction. We also work with potential homebuyers to get them mortgage-ready with homebuyer education, individual homeownership planning and down payment assistance through a matched savings program.

For more information on the High School House program:


NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

Monday, April 02, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls has chosen to support the Preserve Our Parks Great Falls initiative to establish the Great Falls Park District. We offer our support based on our long term understanding of the impact and benefit that well maintained public spaces do for a community and neighborhood. As stated in NeighborWorks articles of incorporation, dating back to 1980, “This corporation is organized for the following purposes: To stimulate reinvestment of urban neighborhoods in the city of Great Falls through programs involving a partnership of neighborhood residents, business community representatives of local government, financial institutions, and other interested persons…

Why Does Great Falls need a park district?

The city has 57 parks, swimming pools, golf courses, the Natatorium and the Community Recreation Center. These amenities are public spaces we have enjoyed for many decades. The annual budget allocation from the general fund is not enough to properly maintain these facilities. They are increasingly showing their age. As described in the Preserve Our Parks website, “The city Park and Recreation Master Plan identified $12.6 million in deferred maintenance and other operational needs. Establishing a park district will allow the Park and Recreation department to begin addressing the maintenance problems.” (

On average a Great Falls homeowner will pay $2.88 per month to maintain this district. Without funding, cuts might mean play structures will not be replaced after removal for safety reasons; less watering, reduced mowing, and continued problems with obsolete irrigation systems; loss of picnic shelters; minimal trail maintenance; and mounting deferred maintenance. Continuing to kick the can down the road will eventually cost much more.

Over time, unmaintained parks will deteriorate a neighborhood, lowering property values and diminishing viable neighborhoods.NeighborWorks Great Falls is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of safe and vibrant neighborhoods. We believe this initiative is a thoughtful and financially responsible solution for the preservation of Great Falls Parks.Please join us in supporting the Preserve Our Parks initiative by voting "Yes" on May 8th.


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 

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