ANACONDA — An after-school program in Anaconda has ping-pong, cooking lessons, and computer coding, and now they have a generous donation from the Montana Governor’s Office.
“I was blown away, I had no idea. It was the perfect Christmas present,” says Executive Director Katie Bjornen.
Gov. Greg Gianforte donated part of his salary to Youth Empowerment Services, or YES, as part of his 12 Days of Giving campaign.
“Not only just a safe place they’re really helping them build positive relationships with their peers and adults and it’s just tremendous work and was an obvious choice for our 12 Days of Giving,” says Gianforte.
Gianforte, whose net worth is over $180 million, presented a donation of $18,675 to the Anaconda non-profit. Much of the funding will go toward repairs to the old church.
“It was built in 1896, so it’s an old building, it has a few things that need taken care of, there is some old water damage, mold, that needs replaced, there’s some sections of the roof that need repaired,” says Bjornen.
The program not only helps kids with their homework but also teaches everyday life skills while building interpersonal relationships.
“School obviously does a lot for the academic skills, but we need to add in some life skills and when parents are busy at work most of the afternoons they don’t have time to get that at home,” says Bjornen.
One parent who works the graveyard shift says the program is helpful.
“I can get my rest and, of course, who work a shift as well during the daytime, they don’t have to worry about rushing home to get their kids and then during the summer, they have a great summer program,” says Rosie Garcia whose children attend YES.
Kids say they enjoy the many activities the YES program offers.
“Honestly, probably everything. Mainly we come here, we work on our homework and we do some fun projects,” says Luciano Torres, who attends the program.
The program provides dinner and is open to kids who are 5 to 18 years old.