youthhomes
The Glacier Challenge is not only a great community event, it is also a fund-raiser for the Flathead Youth Home. We work with area kids whose lives have crashed into a crisis. Some are dealing with neglect, abuse or abandonment. Others with mental health issues and chemical dependency. Some have acted out through delinquency. Often, it is a complex combination of these that brings kids into our care.

Since 1975, we have cared for over 1,600 youth. Kids come to us by way of area Youth Courts, mental health programs and the Department of Child and Family Services. No matter what brings them to us, we understand that these kids need a safe place to call home when their own home is no longer an option.

This involves kids without dads, moms in jail for selling meth, and mental illness. It involves a language that I have had to learn as I meet the kids who come to the Flathead Youth Home. Terms like post-traumatic stress disorder and reaction attachment disorder; all big words to say that these kids have arrived with losses and damages I will never experience. Really, it is amazing to meet these 12 and 13 year olds and image how so many hard things have fit into their short lives.

But for all the brokenness we encounter, we also glimpse some healing. When a child comes to us, a whole network of care and services open to both the child and the family. Families that had been existing on the fringes of our community are connected with resources to help them work through crises which otherwise might be overwhelming. Counseling sessions open communication, mental health evaluations lead to therapeutic care, and addiction support begins the healing process. Suddenly there are resources and support and care filling in the broken places.

Most days are about the kids. The kayaks and transition areas, single track and sponsorships, are in the background. But there are connections. The easy connection is the fact that this race, The Glacier Challenge, started and continues today to be a major fund-raiser for our work with kids. Your participation helps to grow and strengthen that work. There is another connection, though. When I watch you, the racers of the Glacier Challenge, I am amazed at the strength, the tenacity, the sheer determination it takes to cross over that finish line. I am in awe, not just of the capacity of the physical body but also the human spirit. Because I think this race requires a strength of both. I see it in our kids, too. That same combination of human resilience  whether it is in the form of a grueling single track or overcoming an addiction. Rising above these hard challenges is an extraordinary tribute to what the human spirit can do.

The Flathead Youth Home is a program of Youth Homes which serves over 200 children a day through group homes, shelter care, foster care, adoption family based services and a wilderness treatment program.

This event allows us to close the gap between compensation rates and cost of care. All proceeds raised during this race go directly to caring for kids.  As racers, sponsors and donors you are what makes this race a big success and allows us to keep caring for kids.

Beyond your involvement in the Glacier Challenge, if you would like to make an additional tax exempt donation to the Flathead Youth Home, there are several ways to do that. If you are racing, there is a place on the registration form to say you want to give a bit more by simply adding that to your entry fee. You can also make a secure donation online here. All donations are tax deductible and make you immediately eligible for that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes when you choose to respond to the needs around you.

Once again this year, we have included an option to donate on the registration form. This is an opportunity for you to add a little more to your entry fee to help us care for kids. Its pretty simple and its pretty profound.  Also, please let us know if you would like a receipt for your taxes. It’s one more way our human spirits connect.

For more information about our work with kids in Northwest Montana, please visit our website at www.youthhomesmt.org/flathead-youth-home