BILLINGS — People laced up their sneakers to walk or run in the 17th Quality of Life Run in Billings on Saturday morning to benefit Montana Rescue Mission and help its staff raise money to construct a larger campus and serve more people.
From the start line in the upper parking lot of MetraPark, about 225 participants ran or walked in a five-mile or two-kilometer race on the Billings trails and sidewalks. The race has been organized and held by staff with Billings Association of Realtors since 2004.
“It is established and it’s something we’re very proud of because the quality of the people and the number of people that participate has grown and grown and grown over the years. We’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the community through this event and we want to continue to do it because it does so much good for the organizations that we support," said Frosty Erben, Billings Association of Realtors president.
Erben said the event will allow them to donate about $50,000 to Montana Rescue Mission.
Erben said the idea for the run was sparked all those years ago by an outpouring of requests from local nonprofits for money to support their missions. Now the nonprofits submit an application, and each year the real estate agents pick one group to support.
Matt Lundgren, executive director for Montana Rescue Mission, said the money from the run will help towards their goal of renovating the old Granny's Attic building at 2801 Minnesota Ave. to offer a host of new and expanded services.
"The Realtors have really stepped behind us as we not only shelter, but we’re also doing transitional living and permanent apartments for people to live in. So it’s really about housing for the Rescue Mission and it’s about housing for the Realtors and together, we’re really going to make a difference to help the people of Billings be housed and cared for and know that Billings cares about them," Lundgren said.
The new space will offer 29 apartments, 300 shelter beds, an emergency shelter, classrooms and job skills training, Lundgren said.
“As Billings continues to grow, we want to grow with it. We don’t want to increase homelessness, we want to end homelessness by getting people into the shelter, but as soon as we can into their own apartment, into jobs. We’re going to be providing child care. We have a medical clinic on site. It’s really kind of a robust campus approach to ending homelessness," Lundgren said.
In August, Montana Rescue Mission staff were about $2 million shy of their goal. To learn more about the project and find links to donate, click here.