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Baskets of Love welcome formerly houseless people into their new homes

Baskets of Love
Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 31, 2023

MISSOULA - Moving is one of life’s most stressful situations.

Additionally, housing prices in Missoula are making finding homes difficult. For those experiencing homelessness, the struggle for stability is even greater. Plus there are lots of little things that go into starting a home. But welcome baskets are here to help.

Welcome Baskets are collections of household items donated by Missoula Interfaith Collaborative that will help make the transition from houseless to starting in a new home much easier.

“I’m a grandparent. I’m disabled. I can’t really hold a regular job; it's just not physically possible for me. So, I depend on my disability income. And rent for a studio apartment exceeds my disability income by sometimes greater than 60-70%. So, I mean it is actually terrifying," said Sophie Jester who received a basket.

The baskets evolved from Family Promise and their movement to house people in need.

“I think the goal of Family Promise ultimately is to try to support people who have been unhoused [and] to prevent them from finding themselves in a similar situation six, eight months down the road," Jester said.

Family Promise then partnered with The Missoula Interfaith Collaborative and the YWCA to try and do more for the community. They run the Family Housing Center at The Meadowlark which can meet the needs of 31 families.

“So, I ended up having to raise my granddaughter and it was sort of a surprise how she kind of fell into my lap. And then my housing situation went south and so I ended up at the Meadowlark which is where I really made my first connection with the Family Promise,” Jester explains.

As families or individuals leave the apartments at the Family Housing Center for a new home, they will receive a basket to welcome them.

Jester excitedly says, “The Family Promise Welcome Basket was really, as they say, a housewarming and heartwarming gesture on their part and very thoughtful.”

Included are kitchen supplies like can openers and pot holders, staple food items, bathroom necessities such as toilet paper and plungers, and also laundry baskets and trash cans. The cost of purchasing all of these items adds up and may not be financially possible for some.

“I really appreciated the fact that Missoula Interfaith Collaborative has really brought lots of folks together because together we can do so much more," Welcome basket coordinator Nancy Marks shared.

The entire welcome basket project is run by volunteers. In 2021, 48 baskets were delivered to people starting in their new homes. Marks says that she anticipates even more baskets to be given out this year.

“It’s just so joyful to take these things to these houses. These families are so glad to finally be someplace and then to get these gifts it’s like Christmas. It’s so nice. It’s a blessing to be able to do that,” shared volunteer Lorraine Carlson.

The drive for items has been going on all of March and will extend into the first few weeks of April. For more information go to http://micmt.org/welcome-baskets/

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