When Makynzie Kurns dropped out of high school during her sophomore year and became pregnant at age 17, she moved to Butte to be closer to her mom.
Later, she wound up adopting her non-biological 10- and 12-year old brothers from her mother’s previous relationship after Child Protective Services deemed that neither their biological father nor Kurns’ mother was a suitable guardian.
“There was no hesitation that I was going to take them, but it was super, super stressful,” Kurns said. “CPS just threw them at me and I had no idea what was even going on.”
Now with a baby and two children to look after, the 19-year-old has since returned to her hometown of Kalispell, sought help from the HEART Program — a local nonprofit that helps teenage students in Kalispell and Evergreen — and purchased a trailer for $1,000.
When Kurns began receiving help from the HEART Program, Betty Ann Morgan, a volunteer and real estate agent in the valley, started mentoring Kurns.
“I called Makynzie and asked her if I could come over and meet her,” Morgan said. “I really liked her and she gave me a tour. It was very bad and I was worried about the winter because some of the windows didn’t close and the flooring was right down to the subfloor.”
Realizing that Kurns needed more help than she could provide alone, Morgan posted her situation on Nextdoor, an app designed to bring communities together, and immediately received interest from Jana Penland, another area realtor, and had a group of people willing to help and provide donations for Kurns. The project eventually became part of the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors (NMAR) Charitable Foundation, and the trailer is now in the process of a complete renovation to create a safer environment for Kurns’ family.
“We gutted it right down to the bare walls,” Morgan said. “The inside will be new. I have to say that when I took this on, I was so disturbed by the condition of it.”
Wendy Brown of NMAR facilitated community help through the charitable foundation and began receiving donations and offers to help with labor from Palmer Preservation, Western Building Center, The Carpet Store, general contractors and more.
“She owns that trailer,” Brown said. “It’s hers, she bought it, and as realtors, we protect home ownership and that’s one of the things we stand for. That’s why we chose to fix it rather than scrap it and start over.”
In the meantime, Kurns and the kids are staying with Morgan, who’s helping her rebuild her life along with other community members.
“She’s been a little overwhelmed,” Morgan said. “The first week I met her, she had her goals right in mind. She never had a driver’s license, so she passed her driver’s test and she had an old car fixed up.”
Kurns is now applying for jobs and enrolled in Flathead Valley Community College. She plans to pursue a career as a licensed addiction counselor.
“We want to make sure that she has the tools and the skills to be successful at raising this family and going to school and having a job and all of these things that most people don’t have to do at 19,” Brown said.
Brown says there are several realtors who are reaching out to help Kurns, from teaching her health and nutrition to furnace maintenance.
Meanwhile, Kurns says her 16-month-old child and 10- and 12-year-old adopted brothers are in much higher spirits since they’ve returned to Kalispell. Both brothers are doing well in school and are participating in sports.
“My goal in life is just to make my three boys happy,” Kurns said. “This is definitely a blessing and I couldn’t be more excited or more happy.”
To make a donation to the NMAR Charitable Foundation contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit https://www.nmar.com/outreach/nmar-charitable-foundation.