Here we are at the start of August. For many, this means thinking about the end of summer, the start of school and all the business of the fall. I encourage you to be intentional in being present. It can be hard, but you deserve to enjoy the rest of your summer!
It has been a busy and fun summer around here. I am proud of our team for creating many opportunities for the people we serve to be active, experience new things and enjoy the fresh Montana air. So far this summer, people living in AWARE residential homes have had the chance to go fishing, hiking and even visit Glacier National Park on top of regularly gardening! Kids served by our CSCT teams have been out swimming, bowling, picnicking, going to the zoo and even touring fire stations amongst many other activities. Our FACT teams hosted family fun events around the state that provided a great opportunity for families to engage with each other, play outside and learn more about how AWARE can help. It’s safe to say time flies when you are having fun!
In addition to the activities our clients and staff are participating in this summer, we also have some big projects at or nearing completion. In June, we opened our new townhomes in Great Falls. These town homes are a welcome addition to our residential services and have already been filled from our waitlists. Building and opening these townhomes was identified as a priority in AWARE’s strategic plan, and we are thrilled for the people living in them to call them home. We look forward to sharing photos soon.
Great Falls is also the home of another exciting project. We are nearing completion on the remodel of our new office space on 10th Ave. This new space will be home to offices for staff, day treatment center, and meeting and training rooms. It’s a place where our entire Great Falls team will be located under one roof at reduced overall costs compared to our current multiple leased spaces. I believe this will help us as we grow and work to foster a collaborative culture and approach to the care we provide.
Speaking of growing, we remain diligent about our recruitment efforts. We are cautiously optimistic about the slight uptick in applications we have seen in the last month. The fact remains that we continue to face an extreme workforce shortage. AWARE has taken many steps to combat the crisis, including significant wage increases and enhanced benefits for our team. But we can’t do it alone. Behavioral health in the state of Montana is at a crossroads, and it is time for improved funding from our government so that we, along with others, can pay competitive wages. Investing in the workforce is an investment in the services we provide – services that so many Montanans need. As we head into the next legislative session, I encourage you to advocate for behavioral health. Our governor, legislators, local and state government officials need to hear from all of you.
With fall looming, I am excited to share that AWARE is partnering with Cognia, an accreditation and certification organization to get the necessary accreditation the Center for Excellence in Anaconda. By partnering with Cognia, AWARE will be able to provide an educational experience that meets the needs of the people we serve.
Finally, as we work to grow awareness about the work we do and advocate for behavioral health in Montana, I would like to extend an invitation to you to visit one of our sites. Our team will happily show you around an early childhood service center, a residential home, the Center for Excellence or simply meet to share more about the work being done daily. Please reach out if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity!
Thank you for taking the time to read this update and for your continued support. The work we do is important, and it isn’t possible without you. Together we help people live independent lives.
Matt Bugni, CEO