Our Place Peers Collaborate for a Downtown Cleanup

Late morning marked the beginning of our community cleanups, and despite the  heat, the atmosphere remained positive. The effort kicked off at Cruise Park, moved behind God’s Love, and concluded at the tunnel near Anchor Park.

This event was a remarkable display of camaraderie and interdepartmental cooperation. Leading the charge were Jacqueline, Our Place Program Manager, and Mikayla, Peer Support Specialist from Our Place, who kept everything running smoothly. Alongside our dedicated staff were numerous volunteers, many of whom are Our Place Peers and have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness. In fact, the idea for Our Place’s participation in the cleanups came from these Peers!

The cleanup crew also included members of the Helena Police Department (HPD) and the Parks Department, with the latter providing trucks for trash removal. Both HPD and Parks Department staff worked alongside the volunteers. hese cleanups are not about displacing people but about making parks and public areas clean and safe for everyone, including our unhoused neighbors. We do not discard personal belongings—only trash. In fact, the tunnel cleanup had started well before our arrival, with the temporary residents leading by example!

For years, the Parks Department has been organizing these cleanups. Pat from the Parks Department mentioned that in the last 4-5 years, the number of people trying to set up more permanent residences in the parks has skyrocketed. With the addition of the Our Place team, we can help address this issue by connecting people with resources to get off the streets and into supportive environments.

Throughout the morning, Mikayla and Jacqueline frequently reminded people to collect their mail from Our Place—an essential service for those without a permanent address and encouraged folks to head down to Our Place for food and more. They knew everyone by name, as did the HPD and Parks Department staff, and provided compassionate support during the cleanup. They balanced firm instructions, like “Yes, you have to clean this up,” with genuine concern, asking, “How are you doing?” and “What do you need?”

This event was a kind and collaborative effort from all parties involved. While there were a few dissenting voices, the gratitude from those helped far outweighed the negativity. We recognize that there is no perfect solution to this complex issue. People deserve a safe place to sleep, and everyone deserves clean parks to enjoy—whether they are housed or not. We are committed to expanding our reach and programs to connect those in need with the help they require.

We extend a special thank you to the Our Place Peers who volunteered—Brandon, Stuart, William, and Jay (some preferred to remain unnamed)—as well as the staff at Our Place, the Helena Police Department, the Parks Department, and the Sanitation Department. This is the third cleanup Our Place Peers have participated in, and these events have become a huge part of their recovery group, giving them a sense of purpose and vital community connection.

We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Judge Peterson for providing a reduction in fines to those who participated in the cleanup.

If you have questions about these cleanups, how to get involved with our Ministries, or have a suggestion of a place to clean up please feel free to reach out at: [email protected]


Volunteer Spotlight: Chuck Butler

This past August, Chuck Butler attended the “Rough Sleepers” community conversation on homelessness facilitated by Helena community members. He was moved to get involved in Our Place and the unhoused community in Helena. Chuck Butler moved to Helena, Montana in 1985 to pursue a job in healthcare with Blue Cross Blue Shield. His career has spanned a number of fields including journalism, politics, and healthcare. Throughout his career, he’s always been moved to do what he can to help others.

Chuck believes that no one should be sleeping outside in Helena. He is the Stewardship Chair of Plymouth Congregational Church. Chuck started getting involved with Our Place and the unhoused community after attending all five of the “Rough Sleepers” Community Conversations put on by Jennifer Thompson and the United Way of Lewis and Clark County. He said, “what I was hearing about people in my own community sleeping outside, struck a nerve. I thought, it isn’t right that people in our community are sleeping outside. Something has to be done.”

After hearing about solutions to the issues that seemed far down the line, he decided to use his influence to do something that would help people outside now. He mobilized the members of Plymouth Congregational Church to hold a fundraiser for sleeping bags. With the funds, 45 new sleeping bags for Our Place were purchased for those unsheltered. Mark Nay, Helena’s Street Outreach Coordinator was grateful for the donation and mentioned that these would go fast. When the community came together over a shared cause, they made a difference.

I asked Chuck, what he would tell members of the community, who would like to get involved but don’t know where to start?

“I would say “go talk to your neighbors”. I had not been in Our Place before a couple of months ago, but I would drive by it on my way to work for 30 years. Often, it is easier to turn a blind eye to those who are suffering, but extending a helping hand is the sign of true strength. I started going in and talking to a couple of the guys in there. I have always been welcomed with a great big bear hug. We need to remember, that we are not helpless, and small acts of kindness can mean a world of difference.”

Chuck and Susan Butler just deposited another check for 50 more sleeping bags to donate to Our Place. Chuck will be at the Open House at Our Place on Dec. 5th. He encourages community members who have wondered how they can make a difference, to take the first step and come on in. All are welcome.

Thank you, Chuck for your commitment to the Good Samaritan Mission!


Mission Moment

Our Assistance Coordinator has been working with a client for 3 years now, helping her navigate a great deal of obstacles and adversity present throughout her life. This client suffers from a mental disability and transgressed from stability to instability during this time.
Since our Assistance Coordinator has known this individual, she has been admitted to the State Hospital (Warm Springs) twice. She was housed for a time but, due to her mental illness, the property management company would not continue her lease agreement. This tragically left her with no option other than the streets.  For months she traveled between Helena, Butte & Ulsa. She had full custody of her daughter before she experiencing instability and this last time but now went an entire year without seeing her baby girl which only added to her nightmare she found herself in. One cold night while in Ulsa she was walking on Mullen road by Ulsa’s “Tent City” sector where the homeless would stay and was hit by a small SUV going 40 mph. She went To St. Patrick’s by ambulance and was in a coma. After being in the hospital for a few months she was released and came back to Helena, MT. She got her daughter back full time, which was a blessing but was still struggling with homelessness.
After bouncing between three houses, couch surfing she found an ad online for an available apartment. Good Samaritan Ministries Assistance Coordinator had worked with this particular landlord  before, so she called him to advocate for her client. He had already rented the apartment that the ad she had found was for. But serendipitously, he had literally just hung up with another tenant of his who informed him that he had to move out in a week, thus, leaving another apartment available.  Through the grace of God and the blessing of compassionate people, this apartment became available only a week before her section 8 expired indefinitely. She now was able move into her new stable home with her beautiful daughter April 2nd, 2023.
A year and half ago all of her belongings were put into a storage unit that America Storage gave to Good Samaritans for free to use for clients such as this one. Good Samaritans Assistance Coordinator called up Instar Community Service Hannon House which is a transitional living home for men in recovery working to change their lives. They agreed to assist in moving our client’s belongings from the storage facility to her new home. Nine men showed up offering their time for free to help another in need. This is the second time The Hannon house has helped Good Samaritan move a client. Amazing collaboration and selflessness of these incredible men doing service work that really does make a difference. Good Samaritan cannot Thank Hannon House enough for this help. Our client broke down in tears out of gratitude and hope when saw these nine men there to help her. What a humbling experience.
Another successful client housed with the assistance of Good Samaritan Ministries. Not only did we help her and her daughter get stable housing, but we helped a single mom and her 5 year-olds life to be changed forever. Even in our current housing crisis, we succeeded with this case. Her deposit came from The Hunthausen Fund that is half grant half loan and she will have a year to pay back her half of the deposit. Your donations made this possible and changed this family’s life. Good Samaritan is beyond blessed to have donors such as you to be able to financially assist those in need of a hand up.
You change lives. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
From all of our Good Samaritan Staff

Safe housing connection provides stability for breast cancer patient

St. Pete’s works with Good Samaritan to provide safe stable housing to those in need


Together, Courtney and Sue filled out dozens of applications for housing. And, Courtney helped connect Sue to Good Samaritan Ministries, a local nonprofit committed to providing services to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families of all faith, especially those most in need. Good Samaritan was able to provide housing vouchers and support thanks to a grant from the CARES Act.

“When I first met Sue, she was going through a lot. She was experiencing lots and lots of emotions related to her medical concerns, on top of the housing stress,” said Courtney. “I was able to connect her to our behavioral health professionals and then get her connected to temporary housing through a grant from Good Samaritan. Those have been the most beneficial things in the time that we’ve worked together.”



A smile as big as the Montana Moon

One afternoon an HPD officer called and asked Good Sam’s team to go check on a particular gentleman living under the walking bridge close to Exploration Works. When we found this gentleman, he was wet, and so cold he could not move. He really was freezing to death!  Wet, freezing and in pain from frostbite, our team loaded him up and took him straight to GSM Thrift Store for warm clothes as well as food to get through the first night. Instead of putting back outside, he was taken to a hotel to start his journey back to health and society…and this is when the work began. The teamwork for this very vulnerable individual in our community.

Good Samaritan was given an electric wheelchair for someone in need; we gave it to this man who had lost part of a finger from the spokes in his manual wheelchair.   Thank you to the donor, it found a home and made someone very happy. This man had frostbite so bad on his hands that he could not grasp things. He has such severe frostbite he had multiple treatments a week scraping off the frostbite from skin. And he does it with a smile on his face, happy to be alive, and grateful for the help.

This man, as we got to know him, is the kindest, sweetest most amazing guy you could ever meet. How in the world had things slipped so bad to put him in this situation with nowhere to turn, nowhere to go, and no known family or friends to help? We ALL jumped in for his different needs and blended together for his progress.  We all went to work for him! One of our team members continued getting food for him and transporting him to medical appointments for serious conditions. He was a victim of his social security money being continuously stolen, together he and staff worked on getting a new payee so he could actually see his own money. Every single one of our team members came together to work with him on different needs. He was so thankful and happy to work with the Good Sam team, a smile on his face, happy to be alive, and grateful for the help.

This is the reason we do what we do, we strive to make the lives of those who cross our paths better. They are worth it, and they certainly deserve it! And you, our donors help us make these changes in everyday lives.

The smile on his face will shatter your heart. It was so wide, full, and beautiful, just like a Montana moon! These acts of kindness still exist today. Changing lives for the better is something neighbors helping neighbors can do. 

There is always someone worse off….

There is always someone worse off….


In Aug of 2020, a consumer, a pleasant man in obvious personal pain came into the Our Place looking for housing. He had at one time had stable housing, a stable job, and ten years of sobriety from a Methamphetamine and Heroin addiction.

After a short talk with Our Place peer support, we learned that four months earlier his daughter had committed suicide, a week after that his older brother had lost his life to COVID-19, then within a month he lost his job and housing with nowhere else to go but his vehicle. Unfortunately he was unable to  cope and process the personal tragedies and pain. Unfortunately, he returned to his addictions and became lost in drugs again  numbing the  pain.

He contacted several agencies for a Chemical Dependency Evaluation (CDE). He was told over and over, it would be between  five to six weeks before anyone would be able to see him.

A peer support specialist introduced him to the manager of Our Place. Once the need was identified, Instar community Services was contacted for a CDE as a Good Samaritan partner for such services. Upon complement of the evaluation it was determined he needed inpatient treatment and Good Samaritan contacted the Montana Chemical Dependency Center (MCDC) in Butte, Montana. Because his assessment of need was so great MCDC agreed to take him within the week.  Our Place gave him a ride to Butte and he spent thirty days in treatment.  While he was in treatment,  Our Place housing Coordinator, Lori reached out to the community and was able to find him housing. This, to prevent him from being homeless and without a safe place of his own. He graduated treatment and he is now stably housed. He continues counseling every week and is starting to work through the grief he feels for the loss of his family. He is currently reconnecting with his other two children and he just had a job interview he feels positive about.


You can help!


How simple gratitude can change our entire path

In February 2020, a young female came into Our Place and asked the manager if she could volunteer at the drop-in center. The manager asked her why she wanted to volunteer. She told him that one year ago she had been homeless and living on the street. She had spent several months living in the shelter; while there Our Place had been one of the only places of actual comfort, safety, and warmth she could find.  Eventually, she was able to secure an apartment, but she never wanted to be in that position again, so she went to the Career Training Institute. She spent a year training with them in several different employee areas. The young lady had previously never been able to keep a job for more than a week or two because she suffered from mental illness.

While at the career institute she learned about Peer Support as a career opportunity. She applied for and received a grant from them to attend Peer Support training. She fell in love with the concept of helping others that suffered as she had. When she graduated, she heard that Our Place had come under new management. The manager told her they had no job openings, but she simply shook her head and said, “No, I’m not looking for work right now I am looking for experience.” She told him that she knew she didn’t have very much work experience and wanted to volunteer twenty hours a week as peer support so that someday when she did get a job she would already be good at it.

The manager signed her up as a volunteer and gave her on the job training including everything from the NASW code of ethics to Crisis response. She was able to develop good work habits such as good attendance, mediation, and the ability to connect with her peers while remaining objective. Six months after she started volunteering, a job opportunity came up at Our Place and due to her hard work and dependability the decision was made to hire her. She works as a peer support specialist and enjoys success in this field to this very day.

An AmeriCorps Member has been housed!


An AmeriCorps member has been housed!

An AmeriCorps- Montana Conservation Corps member started serving for his term this past fall to help do studies on homes and fire mitigation. He moved from California to Montana to serve and could not find housing right away. He ended up camping for a while and it started getting cold. He knew he needed to find housing before winter began but needed some resources because he was still new to Helena. Matt came to Good Samaritan’s for housing navigation services and was able to get housed after two weeks. Thanks to a private landlord in the community who is opening to taking AmeriCorps members who on average get a net income of $800-$900 a month. Good Samaritan’s great appreciates the collaboration landlords provide to community members serving for their country.

What a person can do today with assistance, they will do tomorrow by themselves.

We did a mission moment months ago regarding a young lady who was struggling in life. She desperately needed help and someone to help her navigate towards finding that help. She was about as lost as a person can be, needing mental health care as well as addiction treatment and help. We cannot stress enough about how hard it was to get her the help she deserves and needed. She strived for a life that she can be proud of and a life where she can be happy. She worked so hard to achieve this. And Good Samaritan has walked this path with her and could not be prouder of who she is today. She is fully in recovery, working with the PACT team from The Center for Mental Health who has guided her in changing her life. She is now seeing her children again which is what she was fighting so hard for. We wish you could all see this transformation. You would be moved to tears as we have been.

Every single day is a struggle for those facing mental health challenges along with addiction issues. It is a very real problem. We ALL need to come together to help support individuals in this struggle. To help them navigate the system so they can each get the help they DESERVE! And if we come together like we did for this young lady and fight for their right to a good life we can have more success stories such as hers. She is truly an inspiration.


It only takes one person to believe in you to start believing in yourself




Everyone deserves a hand up

A gentleman of 79 years came to Our Place. He worked in an asbestos mine, when publicized asbestos was toxic, he not only lost his job, but became ill with asbestos poisoning. He eventually received a sum from a general asbestos fund but by that time had developed Asbestos related symptoms which took his settlement, plus more leaving him homeless.  The treatment left him disabled and learning to live on the streets.

With many years of homelessness and homes being taken due to “community progress” …he hitchhiked his way to Helena with the thought there must be more services in the State Capitol. He spent the first thirty days in Helena trying to find housing but was unsuccessful, he remained homeless in a shelter or on the streets.  He was referred to us by Purview and the homeless shelter finding his way to Our Place. Staff at Our Place completed the standard housing intake with him, including a Permanent Supportive Housing application in hopes of receiving a housing voucher. The sad truth is, however, that the waiting list for these programs can take 1-2 years before someone is accepted and that is assuming once they are accepted into the program they can find a house that takes a voucher.

That same day we made several phone calls without success, but we refused to accept defeat! He needed a clean place because of his medical condition. Can you imagine being ill and homeless?  One of our other clients suggested an apartment complex with openings, we called it just in case there might be an opening.  After repeated attempts to reach the company on the phone, we decided to take the gentleman up there in person.

Sometimes life is all about timing, luck, or a candle in the wind from someone giving back. When we walked into the building the regional manager was there. She gave us an application at which we filled out together. We turned it in and miraculously the manager was so impressed with him, she approved him on the spot. He moves in three days from now!

Everyone deserves a home of their own!!!


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