The Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana is one of my favorite local charities. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2014 and receives no government funding.
“Dedicated to ensuring safe, supportive housing and resources for unaccompanied homeless high school students in the Flathead Valley, enabling them to graduate from high school and become productive members of our community.”
To qualify for placement, teens must be drug-free and have no other place to live. Homeless children, as described by the McKinney-Vento Act, are those “-who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” This includes children living in shared living situations, campgrounds, vehicles, substandard housing or public areas. The Sparrow’s Nest cannot accept students in the foster care system or students who are parenting a child.
Students who live at The Sparrow’s Nest receive food, clothes, a home and, maybe most importantly, supportive staff who care, listen and teach them how to be successful.
Darby Duval, Developmental Director, was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions. The Sparrow’s Nest is able to accommodate eight teens. Currently, there are four open spots at the home and students can be referred using the online form on the website or by calling directly. There are still many children and teens that are neglected, abused or living in unsafe living situations that are not in the foster care system. These teens would be ideal candidates for placement. Darby also explained how when a child turns 18 they no longer qualify for foster care and may have had a hard time finding placement in their last few years. The Sparrow’s Nest can house 18 and 19-year-old teens and help them complete their education while teaching valuable life skills. There is also a Program Coordinator who ensures students receive the necessary physical and mental health care.
“Our goal is to use safe and sustainable housing as a mechanism for empowering unaccompanied homeless high school students to develop the personal and professional skills required to graduate high school and become productive, contributing members of our community.”
The Sparrow’s Nest always needs volunteers and you can apply on their website. Volunteer opportunities include yard work, office work, teaching life-skills and public outreach for community events.
Donate, donate, donate! The Sparrow’s Nest is run 100% on donations. I donated through the Whitefish Community Foundation’s annual Great Fish Challenge. The Sparrow’s Nest also holds an annual event called “When the Night Comes” where you can sponsor staff as they spend the night outdoors, to bring awareness to the challenges homeless people face. This just took place February 6th and the community donated an incredible $40,000 to help these children in their development.
There is a “Needs List” on the website if you’d like to donate something specific and there is a printable receipt for tax write-offs. Here is the link to The Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana.
I hope that I have shed some light on a social issue that every community faces and I encourage everyone looking for a way to give back to their community to look up homeless resources in their local area. Every child, 0-18 years of age, deserves a safe place to live.