Block party aims to raise money for struggling veterans home

A year has passed without a steady source of money
Posted at 10:43 AM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-29 10:01:42-04

HELENA — After being stripped of its primary source of funding last year, Helena’s Willis Cruse House is working to get back on its feet.

“It hasn’t been easy and it’s been month-to-month sometimes,” Desiree Bain, Executive Director for the Montana Veterans Foundation, said.

Bain, who manages the 12-bed transitional home for homeless veterans, said the Department of Veterans Affairs denied a grant last September that provided the bulk of the funding for the home and its programs.

Now, a year has passed without a steady source of money.

“But the community has really stepped up,” Bain said. “The thrift shop out at the VA has given us money, Power Townsend, Town Pump Foundation – we’ve really been taken care of by this community.”

The Willis Cruse House is more than just housing. Bain said they provide resources, life skills, classes and recovery workshops. They also connect veterans with other veterans who know what they’re going through.

“When the guys come into the house, they have two years in the program to address any barriers. Sometimes those barriers are being social. Some of them have been kind of reclusive, so it’s important for them to establish those healthy relationships again,” Bain said.

Bain said she’s done everything possible to get the VA grant back.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll get it,” Bain said.

But even if they get the grant money back, it won’t kick in until October 2020. In the meantime, they’re looking to the community for help.

“We’re going to make it through. No matter what. But this is just a great time for the community to get involved,” Bain said.

Willis Cruse is planning a community block party and open house Sunday Oct. 6 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Willis Cruse House.

You can donate online here or drop off donations at 1112 Leslie Avenue.