Center’s renovation benefits many

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Shining Mountains Center for Spiritual Living received an uplifting gift recently through Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Roundup for Safety Program.

Located in a quiet neighborhood at 475 Eighth Ave. EN in Kalispell, the center hosts Sunday services and activities for people of all backgrounds.

The center is also available and widely used year-round by many different community-based groups. However, its aging bathrooms were not fully accessible to people with special needs such as families, the elderly, persons with disabilities and their service dogs, wheelchairs and walkers.

“Although Shining Mountains is rich in community spirit and loving kindness of its members and visitors, it is not financially wealthy,” the Rev. Yvonne Cottrell said in a recent letter to the Inter Lake. “Members contribute generously according to their means, but essential maintenance and safety upgrades to the well-used facility are a constant challenge.”

Last winter the center made what Cottrell says was an ambitious leap of faith and undertook a significant renovation and expansion of its restrooms. It was made possible by individual donations, grants from a small, private foundation and a $2,200 Roundup for Safety grant from Flathead Electric, which put the budget within reach.

“Today Shining Mountains can welcome and safely accommodate all who come through its doors. We’re just thrilled,” said Cottrell, who has led the congregation for the last 10 years. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of Roundup for Safety, whose funds come from co-op members who round up their electric bills each month. This simple, generous gesture combined with Flathead Electric Co-op’s hallmark community support and the dedicated stewardship of Roundup for Safety’s volunteer board of directors saves lives and enhances safety all across the Flathead Valley every day. We are grateful to everyone who makes the Round Up Program possible, thank you all!”

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation’s “Girls in the Bob” program connects teenage girls with “the Bob” through a week-long adventure to discover the beauty of wilderness and work on stewardship projects.

This year a group of six girls backpacked into the wilderness June 30 to July 4. The group was hosted last year and this year by licensed clinical psychologist Sara Boilen, founder and director of Sweetgrass Psychological Services, a Whitefish-based therapy practice devoted to helping children, families, individuals and couples.

Generous donations from tents to backpacks help make it all possible, Boilen said.

The group hiked into the rugged Birch Creek South Fork valley of the Bob and to the Swift Reservoir area where they set up camp, opened trails, restored heavily used areas and pulled invasive weeds.

“Studies show that those who are engaged in conservation efforts at a young age retain those values over the course of their life,” Boilen said. “That is certainly of benefit for future generations and the safekeeping of our wild places and public lands. Attendees learn new skills, overcome obstacles and bond in a way that can only be achieved on the trail. It truly is transformative.”

“It was a wonderful trip,” Boilen said. “One girl who got to go was able to see her first-ever waterfall.”

Boilen said she is definitely planning on putting together a 2018 trip. To learn more or make a donation to the program, visit

Community editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or

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