The St. Regis Visitor Center has a new addition — thanks in part to residents, Glenn Koepke and Patti Curtin. The building is used for the Mineral County Food Commodity Program where boxes can be assembled and distributed to those in need.
The Commodity Program is sponsored through the Mineral County Pioneer Council and coordinated by Curtin and Donna Richter. It provides for those who are 60 and older with a single income of $1,316 per month or less or $1,784 or less for a couple. Every other month, volunteers come together to assemble and distribute boxes and bags of food.
Prior to the new building, the process was very disjointed, Curtin said. Extra food that contained liquid was stored at the St. Regis Volunteer Fire Department because the building is heated. Extra boxes were stored at the St. Regis Community Church.
Koepke, who is on the Mineral County Community Foundation and the St. Regis Community Center and Resort Board, noticed how the group used several locations to store their staples, canned good and boxes. Then they got together and assembled everything at the Community Center. This process also included unloading the trucks, then reconfiguring the products into bags and boxes before they were picked up or delivered to around 80 county households.
“I thought it was crazy that they had to move things around so much as opposed to just having everything there on-site,” he said.
It was through Koepke’s urging that they got the addition built. Curtin spearheaded the funding for the project and he got approval from the Community Council to modify the building to accommodate the whole process, “as long as the Center didn’t have to expend their limited funds,” he said.
Curtin applied for, and received, a $5,000 Go Grant from the Headwaters Foundation, based in Missoula. Funds were also received from the Mineral County Community Foundation and the Mineral County Commodities Program and the Pioneer Council.
Once funds were secured, Koepke lined up a builder and coordinated materials to be purchased from Superior Color and Lumber. The addition was built off the back door of the Community Center, with a small porch and a small shed. This contains the distribution equipment, dollies and boxes. There is also an area inside the center for liquids. The group used the facility for the first time in December, just before the Christmas holiday.
Curtin said she is thankful for everyone involved in making this happen. “Now everything is at one location,” she said. She also thanked all of the volunteers who distribute the food, and if anyone is interested in volunteering, or would like to receive assistance, they can give her a call at 406-369-5766.