Your Neighbor Cares making a difference in Central Montana

By 
CHARLIE DENISON
Senior Reporter
Friday, December 13, 2019
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Your Neighbor Cares President Cheryll Tuss, left, and Treasurer/Secretary Marita Valencia have been involved with the local non-profit since its inception in 2015. They are currently looking for volunteers. 

Photo by Charlie Denison

 

A young family needs help with their rent for the month of December. They have resources enough to pay a portion of it but are short $150.

An elderly widower has a cooking stove with a gas leak that’s been shut off. He is in need of a replacement stove in good working order.

A single mother working full-time needs to have her furnace inspected. It’s currently not safe to use.

These are three of the many requests that come to Your Neighbor Cares, a local non-profit organization designed to help those in need.  

Established in 2015 by Cheryll Tuss and Marita Valencia, Your Neighbor Cares originated from the Great Falls program My Neighbor In Need, which Floyd Blair helped bring to town.

Branching off from My Neighbor In Need gave Your Neighbor Cares an opportunity to be affiliated with the Central Montana Foundation. All money donated to the cause stays local and helps local people.

How many local people? In the past four years, Tuss said Your Neighbor Cares has helped more than 260 people. Many of these calls are requests for furniture or money for rent, but there are many other requests, as well. 

“Requests vary widely,” Tuss said, “so does the frequency of calls.”

But no matter the need, Tuss said Your Neighbor Cares can help.

“Whether it’s a family in need of a washer/dryer, a single mother with six kids in need of a vehicle or a senior citizen in need of a home repair, we’re here,” she said. 

According to Valencia, Your Neighbor Cares’ mission is to “provide a dignified and confidential way to connect individuals who have a specific need with those who wish to fulfill that need.”

Your Neighbor Cares is made up of a small group of volunteers. Valencia handles most of the paperwork and Tuss handles most of the phone calls. Your Neighbor Cares Vice President David Gates also helps out a great deal.

“He’s our delivery guy,” said Tuss.

More volunteers, however, would be beneficial, especially when it comes to spreadsheets and answering phones. When the calls pour in, the job can get a little stressful. Fortunately, Tuss and Valencia said there are many other entities in town that also help those who are struggling. Tuss said she sometimes refers calls to other services that specialize in specific needs. Some of these programs include SAVES, the Human Resources Development Council’s Clearinghouse Connection and the Salvation Army. 

Tuss and Valencia said they are both overwhelmed by the kindness of the community.

“One time a woman called in saying she couldn’t afford to repair her vehicle and she needed a car to get to work,” Valencia said. “Someone donated a car, which just amazes me.”

It’s moments like these that sustain Tuss, as it reminds her what they do is important and often life changing.

“We really have a wonderful job,” she said. “We help people pay their rent. We help prevent families from being homeless. Once in a while we have to say ‘no,’ but not often.”

Tuss said any and all Fergus County or Judith Basin County residents are eligible to receive help.

For more information, call Tuss at 366-4596 or go to www.yourneighborcares.org.

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