Our Place is a peer-run support program that provides a safe physical space for men and women in the Helena community. Those struggling with behavioral challenges and/or addiction can relax, socialize and begin to take steps toward lasting stability. Their mission is to facilitate a place where people can go to be included, create community, and build relationships, striving to help those in need feel empowered while giving them the tools they need to succeed.
Some of the services currently provided include classes and recovery services, internet access for job applications as well as application assistance, housing and transportation assistance, mental health service referrals, and food packets and blankets.
The organization was not immune to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while those challenges continued through this past year, the team at Our Place is hopeful due to recent progress towards reopening many of their services.
Renee Lavinder, Manager at Our Place and a Certified Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialist, expressed that hope by saying: “In many ways it still feels like we are in a bit of a lockdown. Due to ongoing COVID cases, we are not completely back to normal, and operate by appointment only, but it is so nice that we are now back to meeting in person. We have more people returning and have been offering classes and groups for the last month and a half.”
Good Samaritan Ministries took over management of Our Place in December of 2019, supporting the ministry financially while also giving them access to more services, such as housing navigation and ministries which help those with back due rent or utilities payments, to name a few. “Good Sam’s is my right-hand man,” Lavinder said. “We work closely together with all of their agencies to provide for our visitors. I love the Good Samaritan organization, and it’s amazing how much they do for the community.”
Going forward, Our Place will continue to re-open its services by adding classes like budgeting and cooking at the start of the new year. They have also created a festive environment for the holidays. “We have our Christmas tree up and will provide a Christmas dinner,” Lavinder said. “We know that this time can be stressful, and a sad time for many. To provide a sense of happiness and belonging down here is a huge thing for us.”