Stephanie Reis first saw a flier for Girl Scouts when she was in the first grade, and over the past six years scouting has been an important part of life for Stephanie and her mom, Bry.
“Since being in Girl Scouts, she has learned the value of volunteering — the importance of it,” said Bry, who has been a volunteer and troop leader ever since Stephanie first became part of scouting as a Brownie.
“You get to do a lot of stuff in the community and with the community and you meet new people,” said Stephanie, who currently is working on a silver award, the highest award at the junior level of scouting.
She’s planning a project to bring awareness to the community about people who are homeless, working with the Samaritan House and Project Homeless Connect to help the homeless.
Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming, a United Way member agency, is just one of the many nonprofit organizations and services that benefit from the local United Way fundraising campaign that’s currently underway.
“Work United, Give United, Live United” is the theme of the 2013 United Way fund drive, which benefits a variety of nonprofit agencies that help our neighbors throughout Northwest Montana.
The monetary goal for the campaign is $600,000.
A recurring theme of the campaign is building, connecting and strengthening our community, focusing on the difference that an individual can make to help meet everyday needs of everyday people. The United Way has a variety of suggestions for ways that people can improve the world around them. The campaign emphasizes the slogan “Build a Strong Foundation.”
Donations to the annual fund drive benefit United Way member agencies and services in Flathead County, serving thousands of local individuals and families with a variety of needs. Last year, member agencies helped 51,631 people in need. Ninety-nine percent of all money raised stays in local communities to help local citizens.
Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming has 10,494 girl and adult members.
It serves two states, including 79 counties and covering 245,000 square miles. The Girl Scouts recently opened their first permanent office in Kalispell in the Gateway Community Center.
The primary focus of Girl Scouts is to develop girls in an environment where they can build the confidence and skills they need to become successful leaders. Any interested girl is given the opportunity to participate, regardless of her family’s ability to pay.
As a Scout, Stephanie has explored a variety of activities and has several sashes full of badges that chronicle her accomplishments. She has learned to ride a horse, how to make biscuits over an open campfire and how to be a comic artist.
Stephanie said she has become more outgoing and confident through scouting and now enjoys serving as a mentor to younger girls who are just starting out at the Daisy level for 5-year-olds.
“We’re making a difference — slowly but surely, but we’re making a difference in the community,” said Bry. “We’re bringing girls out of their shells. Sharing the experience with the girls makes it worth it.” And, Stephanie added, “it’s really fun.”
How to donate
Donors to United Way may choose how to give, including cash, payroll deductions, charging to a credit card, direct billing or through automatic bank transfers. Donors also may designate which member agencies or local affiliated partner agencies or the Montana Shares Federation they want to receive their gift.
For more information on the United Way campaign, call 752-7266. Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 7217, Kalispell, MT 59904.
Current United Way member agencies are Big Brothers and Sisters, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of Glacier Country, Eagle Transit, Flathead CARE, Flathead Food Bank, Flathead Youth Home, Girl Scouts, Head Start, Literacy Volunteers, Mental Health Crisis Line, Nurturing Center, Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, Samaritan House, Sinopah House, Special Friends Advocacy Program, Summit Independent Living Center and the Violence Free Crisis Line and Abbie Shelter.
Services supported by the United Way include CASA for Kids, Disaster Care Services, Gateway Community Center, Leaders of Tomorrow, United Way 2-1-1 Montana Database Project, AARP and VITA Tax Service and the United Way Volunteer Center and Youth Suicide Prevention Project.
The United Way also supports the following emergency food and shelter programs in Northwest Montana: Bread Basket, Community Harvest Food Bank, DOVES, Helping Hands, Hot Springs Food Pantry, Lake County Mental Health Center, Lamplighter House Kitchen, Lincoln County Crisis Solutions, Mission Valley Food Pantry, Neighbors in Need, North Valley Food Bank, Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry, Salvation Army Meal Program, Sanders County Coalition for Families, Thompson Falls Food Pantry and Troy Food Pantry.
The United Way also provides community resources including the annual Answer Book, a counseling directory and a Volunteer Center.