A Hoppin’ Habitat Summer in Columbia Falls

By Beacon Staff

In the last 6 months or so, new life has been infused into the Flathead Habitat for Humanity effort in Columbia Falls.

Since late spring, they’ve broken ground on 4 homes, 3 of which are dried in (meaning – the roof, windows and doors are in so the inside stays dry). The Governor and his family (and dog) have stopped by to swing a hammer, and shortly, it’s possible that a Senator will do so as well.

Just about every weekend, you’ll find a crowd of Columbia Falls people on site, helping to build these homes. Karen Ulmer, the high school band director, is there just about every Saturday – sometimes with kids from the Columbians or Wind Ensemble. Ulmer and her daughter (home from college for the summer) spent a good bit of their summer at the Habitat build site. It’s not unusual to find City Manager Bill Shaw “toolbelted up”, sanding drywall or hammering and what not.

I asked Flathead Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Patti Gregerson “what’s gotten into Habitat” this year, as they have clearly kicked into high gear.

Gregerson said “It’s the right timing for Habitat. Most people in the Flathead either are or know someone struggling under the pressure of housing costs. Our projects are a way for people in the Flathead to lend a hand to families seeking decent, affordable housing. There’s more to it, though.”

“The core team of volunteer board of directors, led by Dave Williams, has developed a vision for increasing the number of families we can help each year. They have so much confidence that our community members are more than willing and able to help. The root cause of the growing success has been all the support we have received in getting our message out. Once the word got out that there is something for everyone who wants to help, we’ve had a steady and strong flow of volunteers helping three families build homes this year.”

“We’ve historically built one home a year. This year, we’ll finish 3 homes. We’re in the final stretch. It’s hard to believe, but the excitement and energy just continues to grow, and we’re continuing the call to everyone and anyone in the community to help us build on any Saturday. We know the community can make this happen. It’s a wonderful and heartwarming way to end the year by making sure these families have their new homes for the holidays!”

You can take part as well. Every Saturday from 8am to 3:30pm, volunteers jump in. Starting on Oct 24, Wednesday will also be a build day. You don’t have to have any specific skills. Skilled supervision is always present on the site and you can learn by doing.

For more information, call Patti Gregerson at the Flathead Habitat office at 406-257-8800.
Flathead County Commissioner Gary Hall touches up where Conger’s roller left off


Jon Riffey discusses plan details for his upcoming Eagle Scout landscaping project with Habitat President Dave Williams.

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