MISSOULA - April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month but work to save children from danger and violence is being done year-round at Watson Children’s Shelter.
It's not every day that you can simply walk through Watson Children's Shelter which is a temporary home for children who've experienced abuse or harsh living situations. The shelter opened its doors for a tour to show how the organization fosters a healthy and whole life for kids.
“Everything that you would do for a child at home… we’re the replacement for that… When the kids come here most times they come with very little or nothing so we supply them with everything," shared Watson Children's Shelter Development Director Angie Doucette. "So, bedding, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, toys, all the clothing needs that they have, hygiene products that they need. And when they leave here all of these things go with them.”
Not only does Watson Children’s Shelter provide material necessities, meals made with love, and structure, but they also help with developing healthy habits.
Many kids come from situations that are not conducive to caring properly for themselves.
So, the children’s shelter turns self-care into a healthy habit allowance program and for each habit completed the kids earn $1 towards anything they want.
“It’s just for them to take care of themselves, learn how to keep their space clean, and themselves clean. So, it’s really basic, just for themselves to treat themselves well," explained Doucette.
Staff is always available for emotional support which gives the children a place to grow and become their best selves. The children's shelter even has special summer camp programs.
The evidence that the Watson Children's Shelter process works can be seen in the lives of former residents, all grown up.
“He had his beautiful little one-year-old daughter you know and you could just tell the love and joy that he’s able now to to break that cycle and show that love and care," said Watson Children’s Shelter executive director Mark Roberts.
The shelter has two locations in Missoula that give children from all around Montana a chance unlike any other to succeed.
In just a month, the annual Watson's Children’s Shelter Bike for Shelter event gets underway! The community event looks a little different this year with no official bike ride, but you can still ride your bike to join the fun.
That fun includes food, bouncy houses, a bike rodeo, music, and more which will happen on May 20, 2023, on the lawn at Community Medical Center in Missoula. Be sure to mark your calendars!