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SKC faculty volunteer during community service day

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Faculty and administrators from Salish and Kootenai College spread across the Flathead Indian Reservation and beyond for their annual Community Service Day on Friday. 

“This is our way of giving back to the community,” said SKC Professor Doug Ruhman, who works in the college’s education department.

The annual event began more than 20 years ago.

“The founders of the college felt that it was important to have a day of service so they started this, and we add new projects every year,” he said.  

All employees, staff and faculty members at the college, including presidents, divided into 16 groups to work at different sites. In Pablo, a group worked at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter. Several volunteers took the dogs out for walks while another group cleaned out kennels. Volunteers also got out saws and drills to work on outside maintenance projects. Others worked on landscaping. 

Filip Panusz, who was recently hired as the shelter’s new director, said he was thrilled to have so many spring-cleaning projects checked off the list. 

“This is a huge help for us,” Panusz said. “It would take us a couple months to get everything done that they are doing.”

In Ronan, a group worked on maintenance projects for the Boys and Girls Club. Dean Furukawa, SKC chemical dependency program instructor, dug his shovel into the gravel around the club’s swimming pool to pull out weeds. He said he was considering different volunteer projects as he worked. “I’m thinking about how I can do more when I retire,” he said. 

Kathie Maiers is the SKC division of education administrative assistant and grant manager. She put on a yellow vest and a pair of gloves to pick up trash along U.S. Highway 93 in front of the college. She has volunteered during the college’s community service day for the past 17 years. She said this year the weather was perfect. 

“We are about to have graduation here at the college and we want to get the highway cleaned up for that,” she said. “The maintenance crew does a great job but we wanted to help them out today.” 

At Blue Bay, a group worked on building maintenance for a Lakefront building used for Spring Mack Days awards and elder’s activities. In Elmo, a crew cleaned up the powwow grounds. The bleachers at the Arlee Powwow grounds were also repaired. The Vanderburg Camp at Valley Creek underwent a spring-cleaning and weeds were pulled at the Jocko and Polson Beauvais-Decker Cemeteries.

At Sloan Bridge, volunteers collected garbage of all kinds. One year, they pulled a washing machine out of the river, Ruhman said. In Missoula, a crew worked at the Hellgate Treaty site by picking up trash and doing other maintenance projects. The Polson Boys and Girls Club also had a crew of volunteers. 

Trails and campsites within the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness were cleaned along with an area at Buffalo Bridge. Volunteers also spent time working on projects for elders.

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