KALISPELL, Mont. – Inspired and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with their regional peers, residents and leaders of Montana ROCs are ready to help their communities continue to thrive after the ROC Summit this past weekend.
Representatives from the 10 ROCs and 330 households came out to Kalispell for a two-day regional training hosted by NeighborWorks® Montana, the ROC USA® Network affiliate in the state.
The ROC leaders learned about their finances, working with their property manager as well as local law enforcement, and how to foster community engagement. Attendees collaborated with one another on various community engagement topics during an extensive World Cafe.
Through these sorts of trainings as well as just working hands-on with NeighborWorks Montana are a vital resource for many, some attendees said.
“It is amazing what (Buena Vista) has become,” said Terry Huetter, President of the Missoula, Mont., ROC. “It has gone in a positive direction, and just changed leaps and bounds.”
Leaders also gave a report on their communities’ biggest successes, ranging from completing infrastructure projects to rebuilding playgrounds to discovering new ways of engaging community members.
“We started a coffee klatch group where residents can join in without having to come to a meeting,” said Lori Meyer, president of Green Acres Cooperative in Kalispell.
The question of how to best get neighbors engaged was one to which ROC leaders frequently returned, particularly for some of the newer leaders who were able to use the experience of their more tenured peers.
Terry Davis and her neighbors in Country Court purchased their neighborhood in July and are gearing up to tackle some of their infrastructure needs.
“We’re still getting our feet under us as to how this all works,” she said.
Spencer Willey, Treasurer for Libby Creek Community, said he was looking forward to hearing about the experiences of the more tenured ROC leaders to bring back to his Board. His Libby, Mont., neighborhood became resident-owned on Oct. 1, the newest for the state.
“It’s fun to bring something like this to Libby for sure,” he said.
Board Presidents were given a certificate and gift card to Ace Hardware for $50 in recognition of their service to their neighborhoods.
The efforts of the Presidents, the Boards and the community residents are what help the Montana ROCs thrive.
“It really is thanks to all your work that our communities are what they are today,” said Kaia Peterson, Assistant Director at NeighborWorks Montana.
Community leaders boarded a trolley to tour all three Kalispell ROCs to learn a little bit more about their stories.
Each group was also awarded a $500 grant from NeighborWorks Montana to increase community engagement. Members brainstormed ideas of how to use the money – hosting volunteer barbeques, funding a neighborhood party or creating gift baskets for Members – that will be brought back to their Boards of Directors for approval.