Simply Family Magazine January 2012 : Page 59

{ in the know . } Organizers Set ‘Beach Blizzard’ Families all around Billings have a sense of what “normal” means. It means going to work or school, coming home, having dinner, relaxing and then laying down for a good night’s sleep. Then they get up and do it all again the next day. On any given night this winter, however, “normal” is a far from that for about 80 families. They are the homeless families in the city who through a variety of circumstances find themselves without a place of their own. They are single mothers with children; moms and dads who lost jobs; fathers whose work hours were cut and he can’t cover all his family needs. A local organization that helps restore homeless families to self sufficiency has organized an event in February to raise money — and hope — for those families. Billings Beach Blizzard will be a fun, tropical-oriented es-cape in the middle of winter to help raise money for the work done by the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Yellowstone County. The non-profit organization is a shared ministry of 22 area faith communities and a growing network of passionate volunteers. Billings Beach Blizzard is set for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Billings Depot and starts at 5:30 p.m. The event includes food, dancing, auction items including a week stay at the Ba-nana Beach Resort in Belize. Tickets are $65 each and tables of eight are available for $500. While no one can do a thing about the weather outside that night, event organizer Kay Tostengard said the climate inside that night will be warm and tropical. “We came up with this idea last To Help Channel Warmth To Homeless Families by dan carter January and February when we were all freezing,” said Tosten-gard, who is also a member of the IHN’s board of directors. “We wanted do something so we can pretend it’s not winter. So we thought, ‘Why not have a beach party?’ ” From there the idea went forward and others jumped on board. Volunteers have spent the last few months working out the logistics of catering by Tom Nelson, hiring a DJ (Kelly Martin from Prince Party Productions will set the mood for the night) and transforming the depot into a small tropical paradise. People can break out their favorite casual beach wear for that night and plan to have a great time. The best part, for Tostengard and others, is the benefit the event will have for homeless families in Billings. Although it is impossible to find and accurately count all who are homeless, statewide surveys show that Billings has about 30 percent of Montana’s homeless population. And, ac-cording to work done by IHN and others, families and children make up an increasingly growing segment of that population. Those families are under the radar for most in the city. They double up with family or friends or live in shelters and motels. Some live in their cars in very cold weather. And School District 2 officials say this year there are over 310 iden-tified homeless students. IHN works to provide temporary shelter and a program for those families as they get back on their feet. Families spend evenings in one of 13 host church sites, rotating on a weekly basis, while they work to build up funds to pay for rent. The or-ganization also has four “transitional housing” apartments for families who have successfully completed the IHN program and moving to stable householder status. Yellowstone County For more information on the Billings Beach Blizzard or the IHN programs, call 294-7432 or log on to the organization’s website at www.billingsihn.org. january 2012 / simplyfamilymagazine.com 59

In The Know

Dan Carter

Organizers Set

‘Beach Blizzard’

To Help Channel Warmth To Homeless Families

Families all around Billings have a sense of what “normal” means. It means going to work or school, coming home, having dinner, relaxing and then laying down for a good night’s sleep.Then they get up and do it all again the next day.

On any given night this winter, however, “normal” is a far from that for about 80 families.

They are the homeless families in the city who through a variety of circumstances find themselves without a place of their own. They are single mothers with children; moms and dads who lost jobs; fathers whose work hours were cut and he can’t cover all his family needs.

A local organization that helps restore homeless families to self sufficiency has organized an event in February to raise money — and hope — for those families.

Billings Beach Blizzard will be a fun, tropical-oriented escape in the middle of winter to help raise money for the work done by the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Yellowstone County. The non-profit organization is a shared ministry of 22 area faith communities and a growing network of passionate volunteers.

Billings Beach Blizzard is set for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Billings Depot and starts at 5:30 p.m. The event includes food, dancing, auction items including a week stay at the Banana Beach Resort in Belize. Tickets are $65 each and tables of eight are available for $500.

While no one can do a thing about the weather outside that night, event organizer Kay Tostengard said the climate inside that night will be warm and tropical.

“We came up with this idea last January and February when we were all freezing,” said Tostengard, who is also a member of the IHN’s board of directors.“We wanted do something so we can pretend it’s not winter. So we thought, ‘Why not have a beach party?’ ”

From there the idea went forward and others jumped on board. Volunteers have spent the last few months working out the logistics of catering by Tom Nelson, hiring a DJ (Kelly Martin from Prince Party Productions will set the mood for the night) and transforming the depot into a small tropical paradise.People can break out their favorite casual beach wear for that night and plan to have a great time.

The best part, for Tostengard and others, is the benefit the event will have for homeless families in Billings.

Although it is impossible to find and accurately count all who are homeless, statewide surveys show that Billings has about 30 percent of Montana’s homeless population. And, according to work done by IHN and others, families and children make up an increasingly growing segment of that population.

Those families are under the radar for most in the city.They double up with family or friends or live in shelters and motels. Some live in their cars in very cold weather. And School District 2 officials say this year there are over 310 identified homeless students.

IHN works to provide temporary shelter and a program for those families as they get back on their feet. Families spend evenings in one of 13 host church sites, rotating on a weekly basis, while they work to build up funds to pay for rent. The organization also has four “transitional housing” apartments for families who have successfully completed the IHN program and moving to stable householder status.

For more information on the Billings Beach Blizzard or the IHN programs, call 294-7432 or log on to the organization’s website at www.billingsihn.org.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/In+The+Know/940286/95629/article.html.

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