BOZEMAN – On Saturday, Rotary Club members rolled up their sleeves as they revamped 12 different homes in Bozeman, Belgrade, and Four Corners.
Nine years ago, co-founders Cathy Fisher and Nikki Naiser started the festival, and since then 99 different homes have been “fixed-up”.
The idea for the project came from Fisher who had worked for a similar program in Texas. Once she moved to Montana and got involved with the Rotary Club she reached out to Naiser to make her idea a reality.
“It is very exciting,” said Fisher. “Very rewarding and that’s part of it, the reward that we get from it, to be able to help our community and our neighbors.”
About twelve different volunteers arrived at a mobile home on Griffin Drive as they helped repair the home of veteran Scott Hall. Last year, he went without any water, heat, or electricity. That will soon change.
Hall applied for the Fix-Up Festival knowing he needed help, both financially and physically, to repair his home. Hall has had two knee replacement surgeries as well as two hip surgeries, making it hard for him to do any sort of hard labor. He said another obstacle he faced when redoing his home was living off of Social Security.
“The first six months after I bought this place, I saved up some money and I just thought it was the biggest mistake of my life but you know, it just comes I guess,” said Hall. “I was just like ‘God, I do all these good things for other people. What happened?’ Now I am getting it all way back now. So it is like, what comes around goes around. Karma is good.”
Peter Lee with Teton Builders helps out with the Fix-Up Festival each year. He said once he heard Hall did not have any utilities set up, he took him down to Northwestern Energy to get them set up.
“I think Scott is very amazingly appreciative of where he was a year ago to where he is going to be at the end of today,” said Hall.
Each year through an application process, houses are selected by the Rotary Club based on their need to be repaired. After they are selected they then are “adopted” or chosen by a selected volunteer group to raise money and work with a construction team to fix-up the house. Hall’s house was adopted by West Paw Design this year, which Fisher said went above and beyond what organizations typically do.
“It is my favorite thing to do. It really is,” said WestPaw Design Volunteer Team Leader Stephanie Rice. “I mean, there are wonderful people here. We are smiling, we are having a good time. Every year I look forward to this event.
By the time WestPaw Design, HRDC, the Rotary Club, and Teton Heritage Builders are done working on Hall’s home, it will have water, gas, electricity, furniture, and a brand new furnace keeping him warm through the cold month to come.
“I don’t know really what to say,” said Hall. “I just feel thankful.”
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News