Wise River Community Foundation
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Wise River Community Foundation
The Wise River Community Foundation was formed by a group of citizens
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Who is Wise River Community Foundation?
The Wise River Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that gathers for the benefit of Wise River, Montana and nearby communities. The mission of the Wise River Community Foundation is to enrich and improve the quality of community life in the Wise River, Montana area through, programs, services, and operation and maintenance of the Wise River Community Building.
Wise River is a small, rural community in southwest Montana’s Big Hole Valley with a lifestyle of longstanding traditions in ranching, natural resource utilization and outdoor recreation. With a population near 300 year-round individuals (including the 12 mile stretch of Wise River, Dewey, and Divide), residents rely on each other to provide services and a way of life that rivals larger towns. Students attend one of two two-room schools. Commerce is provided by bar/restaurants, a mercantile/gas station, post offices, outfitter/guide services, fire department and ambulance, a forest service ranger station, church, and other entrepreneurs who make this valley home for their businesses. People here work together to provide entertainment and opportunities. The county lines intersect here sectioning residents into Beaverhead, Deer Lodge or Silver Bow counties.
The Wise River Community Building is at the heart this community. The large open room, stage, kitchen and extra rooms are used by the entire community for school events, an annual play, fundraisers, seminars, public meetings and special events. The Wise River Community Foundation provides a monthly senior dinner at the Community Building free of charge. This dinner is put on by members of the Foundation with donations from businesses and individuals.
The Wise River Community Foundation’s active membership provides critical services to the community in addition to the monthly community dinners. Wise River is 40 and 50 miles to the nearest cities with medical services. Members provide aging services to local senior residents with rides to doctor appointments and shopping and provide meals and home services. The Foundation puts on a bazaar each November where locals showcase and sell their products and is a very popular event with raffles, auctions, pumpkin painting, apple cider making, and food galore!
The focus of the Wise River Community Foundation today is maintenance of the Wise River Community Building. The original structure was built in 1950 on land sold for $1 to what was then the Wise River Women’s Club. The community gathered to build the original structure which, although a bare bones one room with no plumbing, provided a needed meeting place for the community. An addition to the building in 2000 added plumbing, heat, kitchen and an extension to the current room. Today the Wise River Community Foundation is responsible for insurance, utilities and general maintenance. The 2000 renovation did not cover all of the building needs and those needs still need to be addressed. In addition, energy costs have increased forcing the Foundation to reevaluate use and heat of the building in a valley with long, very cold winters. The Foundation has found itself limited in its ability to reach goals in serving the community due to its obligation to the building itself in the buildings current state. The Wise River Community Foundation is seeking ways to improve the building for long-term community use that can be more readily supported by the Wise River Community Foundation.
The Wise River Community Foundation members and board are aggressively seeking alternatives in meeting the needs of the community. The Wise River Community Foundation was recently established from the antiquated Women’s Club originated in 1922. This new Foundation has a fresh board and membership now including both men and women in the community. The new Foundation has sought to better establish its role in the community with funding sources, established bylaws, 501c3 status and community support.
Today rural communities nationwide are shrinking due to their inability to attract new community members and retain current community members with a lack of jobs, services, and affordable housing. Rural community members must come together to retain their lifestyle. Local community organizations, such as the Wise River Community Foundation, serve as a center point and outlet to provide services and opportunities for these communities. Without this kind of centerpiece, rural communities move forward without an outlet for leadership and voice in creating the home they want to be a part of. The result is lost rural heritage and fading small towns.
The Wise River Community Foundation consists of a board of directors and membership. The board of directors has four officers (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer) and three non-officer positions. An annual meeting invites members to participate in Foundation elections and plan the upcoming year. The Foundation Board of Directors meets monthly.
The Wise River Community Foundation is working to increase its ability to serve in the community. The Foundation goals are to:
1. Increase membership and organization capacity.
2. Repair and improve the building for energy efficiency and general use.
3. Increase aging services: continue monthly dinners, increases ability to provided needed services such as meals, rides, living assistance.
4. Provide an outlet for local announcements and businesses and thereby supporting our own community and its residents.
5. Identify community needs/desires
6. Compile local history for display, in partnership with the World Museum of Mining
Board of Directors
- President/Director: Tom Davis, Owner of Wise River Club
- Vice President/Director: Jenetta Miller, Head of Monthly Dinners
- Treasurer/Director: Alta Miller, Head of Local History Compilation
- Secretary/Director: Lynda Piercy
- Building Maintence/Director: Charlie Miller
- Director: Allen Baker, Head of Annual Art Festival
- Director: Jen Titus, Head of Fundraising