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MME fundraises to maximize matching contributions

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POLSON — A Western Shindig fundraiser brought in a little over $6,000 recently for Mission Mountain Empowerment, a private non-profit organization serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Held Nov. 11 at the Red Lion Inn in Polson, the event was attended by about 70 people who enjoyed live music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. For the first two hours five or six clients wore clothing from MME’s Polson and Ronan thrift stores so people could see what they have to offer. Clients wore western style clothing to match the western-themed event. The stores, Nifty Thrifty in Polson and Twice But Nice in Ronan, support MME operations.

“We did well for our first time out,” said MME Executive Director Lauren Oliver. “We wanted it to be a community gathering – a party – have people enjoy each other’s company.” She noted the local business community made generous donations – such as two rounds of golf, an evening with the Port Polson Players and a night’s stay at a VRBO – that were included in themed gift baskets participants bid on. Oliver anticipates the Western Shindig fundraiser will become an annual event.

“Mike and Marlo Maddy are matching all of our community raised donations in 2023 and 

2024,” Oliver said. “We’re trying to raise as much as possible because of that.”

Funds will be used to help with renovations for MME’s group homes. “They haven’t had 

any renovations in 10 years – the homes feel a little stale,” Oliver said. Renovations will include improved accessibility and a homier environment.

Other projects on the horizon include the development of a wheelchair accessible nature path and a community garden area at MME’s new campus on S. Hills Drive in Polson. The additions, Oliver said, will benefit the entire community as there are currently no wheelchair accessible nature paths in the area.

Four bunnies - Luna, Nova, Tinkerbell and Thumper – recently came to live at the campus’ new “rabbitat” enclosure. The bunnies, and a cat named Lizzy, provide therapy and caretaking benefits as well as jobs for MME clients who help clean out animal areas. Additional animals, perhaps even chickens, may be brought in in the future.

Like all individuals, MME’s 42 clients have differing needs for support. Some live in the four group homes MME offers, some live with their parents and come in to access day programs while others live independently but get help with transportation and chores such as shopping, cleaning or bill paying.

According to their website, MME programs offer residential services, day services, vocational services, supported living programs, medical assistance, recreational activities and more to help clients reach their highest level of independence with community inclusion. “These services are profoundly empowering for people with intellectual disabilities,” the site reads.

The organization’s next fundraiser is Pints for a Purpose at Glacier Brewery on Tuesday, Dec. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. On this night, Glacier Brewery will give MME $1 for every pint served - whether soda or beer. Community members are encouraged to come wet their whistle, wear their ugly Christmas sweaters and enter the Christmas cookie contest – free to enter and open to everyone. 

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