Intermountain’s usually tranquil and serene residential treatment campus in Helena stands to be a bit more busy and loud this year, with a distraction that will be met with nothing but smiles from both children and staff alike. That’s because this year Intermountain will begin construction of two new cottages for the children to live.
No doubt many of you reading this have toured our residential treatment campus and have seen the cottages where the children currently live. These cottages were built in the early 1970s and have served as the home for hundreds – if not thousands – of children’s emotional recoveries. The cottages have seen more than forty years of use and have seen the neighborhood grow and mature to surround our campus. The walls in these cottages could tell dozens of stories of both rolling-on-the-floor laughter and heartrending tears. They have been well-used.
With use comes wear, and by now the cottages have become worn to the point that building new just makes more sense than another round of remodeling. That is why, back in 2007, Intermountain completed a Master Site Plan for its Helena campus to evaluate and prioritize its needs and begin visioning for the future. At that time, construction of two new 12-bed cottages on the south corner of campus (behind the school) was identified as the most efficient way of upgrading our campus and providing first-class facilities to match our first-class treatment model.
For the past couple years, Intermountain has been raising the funds needed to complete this $2.5 million project. With a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the city of Helena and from many other grants and individual donations, we have raised more than $2.2 million and are working hard to raise the balance of funds – roughly $300,000 – before construction commences in late spring or early summer of this year.
In looking back through Intermountain’s century long history, it’s inspiring to see how the progression of our facilities has made us stronger and better equipped to serve children and families in need:
- Our humble beginnings converting an abandoned college campus in the Helena Valley at the turn of the 20th century;
- The “expedited” move into Mills Hall after the 1935 earthquake;
- The momentous move on to our current campus in 1971;
- The construction of the Wix School in the early 1990s.
We are now honored to be a part of adding a new milestone to this list – new cottages for the kids – and can’t wait to see how this will strengthen the agency and, most importantly, provide a better home for children in need of refuge.