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Program needs help to support women, children

ST. IGNATIUS – Billie Lowther was at a horrible place in her life earlier this year — and she was pregnant with her second child.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped.”

She ended up finding help at The Nest. She is the first resident to live at the home for pregnant and parenting young moms and their children. The pink house is set up just like a real home – although support staff are on hand to help.

“This has changed my life,” she said. “I’ve gotten to do things that I never thought I was capable of.”

The Nest provides transitional housing for young moms with small children for a time span of six months and up to two years. The focus is on women escaping domestic violence but it’s not an application requirement.

At the home, moms develop skills to take care of their kids including everything from growing a tomato to finding a job.

Lowther spent her first few months at the home adjusting, figuring out the chore schedule, and she gave birth to her second son.

“Emotionally, I feel more stable,” she said. “It’s been a change for the better.

This place has helped me see how you should go through life.”

She is working on getting her driver’s license, practicing her cooking skills, and she wants to get a college degree, maybe in nursing. She looked at her sons and considered the future.

“I want (my sons) to see a strong independent mom that will do anything she can to make a good life for them,” she said.

The Nest partners with many outside services within the community from mental health to fitness. Donations and volunteers have helped develop the home after an initial donation was given for the purchase of the property.

“I can’t stress enough how generous people have been,” Executive Director Jenifer Blumberg said.

Issues are being worked out within the house, which is to be expected when working with survivors of trauma, but overall, the program has been successful in the first year.

“It’s all part of the healing process,” Resident Advocate Amy Tall Bull said.“The women come here for the time and space to find goals and passions. They work hard to make a good future.”

In the past year, furniture was set up in the home with several bedrooms, a kitchen, and living area, and the garden was tilled, grown, and harvested. Parenting classes and workshops are now open to the public.

“We are building a strong solid foundation with all kinds of possibilities for the future,” Blumberg said. “We are on a great street with a great community, and I think we are creating future leaders.”

The Nest received an initial donation for one year of operating costs so it’s important that they find ways to continue funding the program.

“We are having the second annual Fall Fest to Feather the Nest,” she said.

The fundraising dinner will be at Allentown Restaurant at the Ninepipes Lodge on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m. Tickets at $30 for singles and $50 for a pair need to be reserved for the event. Children under 12 are free. To make reservations, call 406-745-3757.

Those attending the event get to eat a buffet dinner, bid on the silent auction items and pies, listen to music, presentations, and play kids’ games.

“We won’t judge anyone if they want to step out and watch the NFL Sunday Ticket at the bar,” Blumberg said. “It was a fun event last year and it should be even better this year.”

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