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First Interstate awarding $100,000 grant to YWCA Billings for its new shelter

Aug 10, 2022

Provided by Billings Gazette. See the original Billings Gazette story here

First Interstate Bank is awarding a $100,000 grant to YWCA Billings to equip and stock the First Interstate Bank Gateway Horizons Family Food Center, which will provide basic nutrition for families who will be sheltered at YWCA’s new domestic violence shelter on the organization’s campus in Billings.

The new Gateway Horizons Shelter is scheduled to open later in the year to provide women and children victims of domestic violence with desperately needed protection from their abusers through life-saving shelter and life-changing services.

“First Interstate Bank and the Foundation are proud to support YWCA’s endeavors to help people in crisis by providing a hand up rather than a handout,” said Brian Brown, First Intestate Market President in Billings. “Our continued support of the YWCA is a reflection of the meaningful and important work their dedicated team performs day in and day out.”

In the past fiscal year, YWCA provided 13,241 nights of shelter to women and children. In previous years YWCA provided an average of 8,500 to 9,500 nights of shelter annually. YWCA has struggled to keep up with the significant increase in demand for shelter and services.

“With the considerable upward trend in the number of domestic violence cases and the severity of the violence, we determined that constructing a new emergency shelter to protect women and families was our top priority,” says Merry Lee Olson, YWCA CEO. The new Gateway Horizon shelter will allow each mom and her kids to have an individual studio apartment with a kitchenette, private bathroom, and sleeping areas.

The food center enhances YWCA’s ability to provide for sheltered residents overall needs, says Olson. “We are honored to not only have the First Interstate gift that will make food available to people in shelter, but also have First Interstate employees volunteering to help stock the pantry”.

YWCA Billings’ Gateway Sheltering Program has provided safe, secure refuge for victims of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking since 1998. It offers the only 24-hour/365 day per year secured shelter facilities in an 18,512 square mile area of Montana. Last year, the people served were from 22 of Montana’s 56 counties, three American Indian Reservations, and seven other states. The women and children who stay at Gateway receive wrap-around services including shelter, toiletries, food, legal services, and case management all at no charge.

The new Gateway Horizons shelter will be a two-story building with 25 studio apartments, laundry facilities, the First Interstate Bank Food Center, counseling and case management offices, and YWCA’s 24/7 help lines where 4,775 callers were assisted in the last year.

“Over the life of the new shelter, thousands of women and children will be assisted with life-saving sheltering and life-changing wrap-around services. With our help, families can heal from the complex trauma of violence and poverty,” says Olson.

YWCA has received and has awards pending that total $3.9 million of the $4.25 million needed for the new Gateway Horizons Shelter project. “With construction scheduled for completion in late fall we are now racing to the finish line funding-wise and are reaching out to the community to help us get there,” says Olson.

For additional information or to make a donation to the Gateway Horizons project or the organization, call 406-252-6303 or go to www.ywcabillings.org or Venmo @ywcabillings.




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