Our Mission is to provide comprehensive supportive services to help circumstantially homeless families in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana achieve sustainable economic independence.
The Family Shelter of the Bitterroot opened its doors March 2nd, 2010, and in 2015 alone has provided the equivalent of over $16,000 USD in aid to citizens of the Bitterroot Valley in need. Nearly $4,000 of that total was spent on providing over 6,000 community dinners in Hamilton.
The organizational meeting of the Lighthouse of the Bitterroot, Inc. was held in January, 2010 to provide shelter for homeless families. We moved our first families into a rented former college dormitory 44 days later on March 2, 2010 and for the next 18 months provided 5,801 people nights of shelter at no cost to our guests. The Light House Board of Directors met on September 28, 2013 and unanimously agreed to change our name to the "Family Shelter of the Bitterroot, Inc."
Our nondenominational Christian organization has an IRS public charity (501-c-3) status, is directed by an all-volunteer five member board and funded by charitable donations. The facility and programs were staffed by trained and certified non felonious volunteer hosts where the guests learned life skills in a structured environment. They were allowed to stay for up to two months without cost.
The guest families were provided safe shelter, meals, a local phone number and mailing address. Child care, job search assistance, computer access, auto repair and other supportive services were available. In addition, we offered other life and economic survival skills classes such as auto repair, home maintenance, landscaping, cooking, Bible studies and basic accounting. The guests planted a 1/4 acre garden for shelter use and the extra food was shared with local food banks. We raised a flock of laying hens to provide eggs for the guests. We have a zero tolerance policy for active drug and/or alcohol use. Firearms and explosives were not allowed on the campus.
We left that facility on September 30, 2011 and investigated all the available properties and have located a suitable one half acre site along Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, MT. We have designed a state of the art energy efficient 9600 square foot two story facility that will house 15 families with a commercial kitchen and dining area for the guests and community meals for the public on a nightly basis. The building will maintain an internal temperature of 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit year round due to the Trombe wall, ground source heat pump, earth tunnels, wind chimneys, and solar photovoltaic panels for lighting. These features will reduce the operational costs for the life of the building thereby freeing up funds to feed, house and educate our clients. The new facility design meets or exceeds the most recent Montana Institutional (I-1) Building code requirements and can be built for $594,000 which is just under $62/square foot!