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Butte-Silver Bow Health Department

The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department is located at 25 W. Front St.

The winter of 2018-2019 will be memorable to many in southwestern Montana with deep-freeze temperatures and intense snow levels incapacitating portions of the region for days at a time.

Members of the Southwest Montana Continuum of Care Coalition will remember this past winter for another reason: despite the absence of an emergency shelter in Butte, no at-risk individual died due to the weather.

“As our second winter without an emergency shelter in Butte draws to a close, we are relieved to report that due to the deep collaboration, generosity and hard work of many, we have made it through winter with zero deaths due to the elements,” Stephanie Marshall, supportive services manager at Action, Inc., said in an email to coalition members in late May. Action, Inc., is a Butte non-profit that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families.

“In all,” continued Marshall, “Action, Inc., received over $100,000 in donations from local foundations, businesses, churches and private individuals. With this funding we were able to keep our homeless population safe.” The donations, combined with Action, Inc.’s normal grant funding, simply kept people alive.

In her email, Marshall, who recently left Action, Inc., to take a position with the new FCR call center operation in Butte, provided data on how many at-risk individuals were helped. Some people received multiple services.

With the private donations, Marshall said, from November through May 103 families were assisted with motel vouchers or bridge housing, while 53 individuals received bus tickets to neighboring community shelters or for travel to stay with a friend or family member. More than 100 individuals received sleeping bags, coats, boots, backpacks and other winter gear, and more than 120 gas vouchers were distributed.

With funding Action, Inc. receives from Butte-Silver Bow, the agency was able, from July through May, to assist 71 families with rents and deposits, 64 families with motel vouchers or bridge housing assistance, and 43 individuals with bus tickets to neighboring shelters or friends and family.

With its Emergency Solutions Grant, from Aug. 1 through May, Action, Inc., was able to assist 30 families with rapid rehousing and rent and deposit assistance to prevent homelessness.

And with its Continuum of Care Grant, the agency, from Aug. 1 through May, was able to assist 40 households with rapid rehousing rent and deposit assistance.

In sum, during the winter of 2018-19, Action, Inc., was able to assist:

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• 142 families with rent and/or deposits

• 167 families with motel vouchers or bridge housing assistance

• 96 individuals with bus tickets to shelter

• More than 100 individuals with warm clothing and supplies

• Several people with more than 120 gas vouchers

“This is an incredible effort made by all involved,” Marshall said in her email to the coalition, which is comprised of a variety of organizations and agencies whose missions involve assisting at-risk individuals and families.

But let me make clear here — it was the leadership of Marshall, Action, Inc.’s chief executive officer Margie Seccomb and the agency’s board of directors that drove this tremendous success.

No at-risk individual died due to this past winter’s travails, and because of that, our friends at Action, Inc., are due immense gratitude.

And so, thank you, thank you.

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Karen Sullivan is Butte-Silver Bow Health Officer and Director of the Health Department. Her column, The Public's Health, appears weekly on The Montana Standard's health page.

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