“Home is where the heart is” or so the saying goes. Everyone’s version of home is a little bit different, but at the end of the day, the idea of home conjures up thoughts of peace, respite, a safe haven from the assaults of a bustling world, and a place where memories, meals, and time is shared with the ones who mean more to us than anyone else.
They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. There are those that make their inhabitants feel snug as a bug with their neat and tidy lines, white picket fences, and manicured lawns calling out a warm welcome to all who would cross their thresholds; others provide space for multiple families and stretch tall towards the sky; while some are mansions, with more rooms than people to fill them. Whatever form they take, they all provide a singular purpose – to provide a safe solace for their people.
While Mount Ellis Academy has a rich history, our buildings are starting to show their age. Our newest house is about 20 years old, and our oldest is at least 80 years old, maybe even older. Many of our staff homes are wearing their age like a tattered shawl across their weary shoulders. Some have fallen into disrepair – of no fault of their own or their inhabitants. Age has not been kind to most of them, and while they do provide respite for the educators and their families that live there, most of them have seen years of deferred maintenance or “band-aid” fixes due to limited funding to perform the required maintenance and appropriate repairs. MEA is facing a housing crisis. We are at the point where we do not have adequate housing for our staff.
This was made evident this past summer when we didn’t have safe housing available for incoming and existing staff. We had a house that required significant repairs and was unsafe for its inhabitants, and new staff moving to campus with no place to call their own. It was at this point that a vision began to take shape and a dream was born.
Jared Rasmussen, MEA church member, parent, and chair of the Building and Maintenance Committee saw this need first-hand and began to brainstorm to find a solution to MEA’s housing crisis. After much prayer and sharing his vision with a group of local church members a plan began to take shape. “This isn’t my plan, or even my idea,” Rasmussen states, “but this project belongs to God. It isn’t something meant for MEA and the local Bozeman community, but it’s a vision to bring our Montana Conference community together in a common project to serve the Conference”. The plan is to begin construction on a new house. Once that home is built, fundraising will begin to build another, and this will be repeated until all of the houses are replaced or we have adequate housing for all of our staff. The fundraising will include funding a specific account dedicated to maintenance of the new structures so that the new homes don’t fall prey to deferred maintenance due to a lack of funding. What started as a small seed planted in Rasmussen’s vision for MEA is taking shape and growing into a real project with a goal to eventually include curriculum so that students can be a part of the building process and know what goes into building a new house from budgeting, choosing a house plan, to framing and finish work. We want our students to be involved and learn about the process.
The Montana Conference Board of Directors has already made a statement of support for the initiative and has pledged the initial $120,000 and several of the local churches have also pledged funding to support the project. The Adventist Education Foundation stands behind the project as well, and has already issued a check for $65,000. We are still short $75,000 to complete the first house.
Want to join us in our initiative? There are several exciting ways for you to be able to participate.
- You can pray. This is always the most powerful way to have the biggest impact. It may seem like the smallest gesture or easiest route to take, but it allows us to partner with God in doing big things.
- You can donate to the initiative, or you can help to promote the project with fundraising in your local community. MEA is your school. It belongs to God and serves all of us.
- You can join us for the final work-bee once construction is completed and help with landscaping and clean-up.
- Best way yet, do all three: Pray, help with fundraising, and join us on campus for the final work-bee!
Won’t you join in the vision? God is doing great things, and we invite you to participate with us. We are excited about the future of MEA. For the past 119 years we have been in the business of educating students for eternity. We are looking forward with hopeful anticipation to educating young people until Jesus returns. Help us provide adequate housing for our staff. Together we can share the love of Jesus with the young people of Montana and beyond.
~Kebrina Vinglas, Director for Development