Last week fellow Rotarian Sherrie Arey and her colleague Chelsey Hutmacher at NeighborWorks Great Falls gave us a retrospective on that organization's remarkable accomplishments over the past 40 years in Great Falls. 
Right from the start,  NeighborWorks has been "committed to building strong neighborhoods, creating successful homeowners, and promoting quality, affordable housing throughout Great Falls."
Since 1980, the organization has helped over 2,200  community members own their first home. It has removed or renovated roughly 500 distressed properties and  added  over 350 trees, adding $50 million to the community's tax base. Programs in homebuyer education, including counseling on planning and budgeting for a purchase and preventing foreclosure, have given first-time homeowners a solid foundation to build on. Owner-built homes have given 135 families "sweat equity" in their homes since 2005.  The high school house program has resulted in providing 42 homes for the local market, with the ancillary benefit of providing career training for high school students since 1997.
NeighborWorks reaches out beyond its mission to be a true community team player. Programs like Neighborhood and Business Watch, the Annual MApril Clean-up, and the Downtown Safety Alliance are examples of their efforts to "stretch" the organization to realize our community's potential. We are fortunate to have such a ground-breaking program - literally and figuratively - in our community!