Montana ROC fixes ice issue at community mailboxes

KALISPELL, Mont. – Repairing the asphalt around the community mailboxes has made for safer conditions for residents at Morning Star Cooperative.

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Signs were installed at the the entrances of the Morning Star Community, thanks to a grant from NeighborWorks Montana. This was one of two grant-funded projects the ROC did last year.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Laurie Westendorf, President of the democratically elected Board of Directors in the ROC.

Before the repairs, water wouldn’t properly drain from the front of the boxes, which made it slick, particularly in the winter months. There were concerns that residents could slip and hurt themselves while checking their mail.

“It was just not a safe situation,” Westendorf said.

The $1,500 project was funded by a Better Together Community Grant awarded to Morning Star last Spring. Westendorf said she was grateful to grant funding so that the co-op could make the repairs sooner than they were expecting.

“It was on our minds, but we just didn’t have the budget,” Westendorf said. “We had some repairs this last year we weren’t expecting.”

Danielle Maiden, a Cooperative Housing Specialist at NeighborWorks® Montana, was the one who suggested ROC Leaders apply for the grant. NeighborWorks Montana is the ROC USA® Network Certified Technical Assistance Provider who works with Morning Star residents and leaders from the other nine ROCs in Montana.

This was one of two grant-funded projects ROC Leaders tackled this past year.

This past fall, two new signs were installed at the entrances of Morning Star, helping visitors more easily find the neighborhood. New speed limit and row number signs were also installed.

NeighborWorks Montana awarded the ROC a $2,000 grant for this work.

Westendorf said neighbors will often come up to her in the community to give positive feedback about the new signs, as well as the other improvements that have been done.

“People love it,” Westendorf said.

Completing projects like this shows the pride in ownership in the ROC and being able to utilize grants, like the Better Together program, allows the improvements to be made sooner.

“I think it represents that we really care about our community and members,” Westendorf said.

In October 2010, the ROC leaders who attended the Community Leadership Institute in Louisville developed a community grants program idea that would both help a fellow ROC as well as engage new leadership in the resident corporation. ROC USA® has included funding for the Better Together Community Grants program in the budget ever since.

The projects are meant to meet safety and health needs, as well as bring together neighbors to solidify the already growing feeling of camaraderie.

Learn more about the program click here. The 2019 application deadline will be announced in coming weeks.