Our Stories

Making a difference

Our Stories


In May 2019, HRDC began working with Anna and her children. At that time, the family was staying at Family Promise because Anna had recently fled from an abusive and controlling spouse. Getting back on her feet and keeping her children safe was Anna’s priority. Our Housing First staff worked with her to help her find an affordable rental while she quickly obtained full-time employment and accessed additional resources that would help her take care of her family on her own. Things were moving forward and Anna was hopeful.

Unfortunately, Anna’s past would be back to threaten her ability to be self-sufficient. In late June, her car was repossessed after falling behind on payments due to her situation. Her ex-fiancé had learned of her location, using his connections with the loan institution to arrange the repossession. Anna now had housing but no way to get to work.

HRDC had recently accepted a very generous vehicle donation from a local family – a Ford Taurus with low miles and in excellent condition. The donation was in honor of a gentleman’s sister who was suffering from a debilitating illness and could no longer drive. The car was a beloved possession and relinquishing it wasn’t easy. His hope was that this donation would turn a sad situation into a positive experience.

It is clear that a car would enable Anna to maintain her employment and housing, creating stability for her family. The generous donation of this beloved car was the final piece to Anna’s transition back to self-sufficiency!

Meet Anna

Meet Roberta

Roberta stays connected to her community through HRDC.

Roberta first came to HRDC many years ago when she was seeking affordable housing. With a very limited income, Roberta struggled to find an affordable place to live. Our team found her an apartment located across from HRDC, where rent was based on her income. She paid the majority of the rent, but what she could not afford was covered by one of our housing programs.

Roberta never learned to drive, and community members would see her out walking all over town. Each morning, she walked to have coffee with her friends at McDonalds. On the weekend, she would head to the GranTree to have breakfast with her grandson – who was a server there. Sometimes she would call Galavan to take her to a doctor’s appointment, but she was reluctant to use Galavan, worried that she would take a ride away from a senior who really needed it.

Roberta also often used our Gallatin Valley Food Bank to help make ends meet – she was happy, health, and thriving in our community.

But a slip on the ice one winter resulted in a broken hip. With no elevator access, leaving wasn’t easy, and she spent most of her time in her small second floor apartment. Roberta lost her spirit. Soon enough, Roberta discovered that HRDC was starting a transportation program, Streamline. There was a bus stop in front of her building, and became a Streamline regular.

Roberta got her spirit back. She connected with the drivers, making friends with other passengers from all over our town. Roberta had a new sense of independence, she was thriving again.

Eventually Roberta needed a more senior-friendly apartment, and our team at HRDC was there to help her with the housing search and application, even connecting her with a recliner donated by Costco. When she needed to apply for SNAP benefits, we were there to help with the application.

Although HRDC was there for Roberta to help with her basic needs, it meant much more to her.

Roberta suffered from a heart attack and had to move into nursing home care. Next to her bed was a picture of her family, and her HRDC family. The night before she passed away, she spoke again about her Streamline Day, and about how much HRDC meant to her. She meant as much to all of us.

Many of our customers turn into part of our HRDC family, and we are honored to be a part of their lives.

Ralph finds housing after loss.

Ralph, an 82-year-old veteran, found himself alone in his community after the loss of his brother, who he was the caretaker. No longer able to afford housing on his own, Ralph was connected to HRDC in Livingston through a community member.

Marissa first assisted Ralph by conducting the initial service navigation. Ralph and Marissa connected instantly, and Marissa reached out to her co-workers and other community partners to help Ralph get back on his feet.

Overwhelmed by the process, Ralph relied on Marissa and the community. With a group of HRDC staff and programs, alongside generous support from community partners, they all put the puzzle pieces together, helping Ralph rebuild his life after loss. 

Meet Ralph

Meet Pedro

Dana helps Pedro find housing and builds a lasting connection.

Dana Mitchell has been with HRDC for the last five years as a Senior Service Navigator. Her caring and selfless nature and vast knowledge make a lasting impression on those she serves.

Dana fondly remembers Pedro – a proud but gentle spirit – as the customer who impacted her the most. 70 year old Pedro moved to Bozeman from Judith Gap. His decision to move was based on access to services he might need as he got older. Pedro’s limited income was not enough and he found himself living in his truck. After a stay at our Warming Center, Pedro was connected with Dana. Thanks to community resources and navigation, Pedro found an affordable apartment to call home. Dana recalls Pedro calling her his mother, illuminating his belief that HRDC staff had become his family.
Dana’s role as a navigator – at its core – is being on the frontline, whether someone is in crisis and needs immediate assistance or they’re looking for other resources. Dana says, “There’s just something about being the first person someone talks to.” 

Paul receives support from his community after serving his country.

Born on July 16, 1926 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Paul joined the United States Navy in 1942, just shy of his sixteenth birthday. With a brother already serving in the Navy and his parent’s permission, Paul soon found himself on an aircraft carrier fighting in World War II. Paul remained in the Navy until the war ended in 1945. Returning home to Boston, he got his high school diploma and worked many jobs, including selling peanuts at Fenway Park for his beloved Red Socks and serving in the Massachusetts National Guard.

In 1950, Paul enlisted in the Airforce where he remained until 1970. While in the Airforce, he served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In a foxhole outside a supply tent in Korea, Paul was shot in the head by a sniper. Following three months in a hospital he returned home with a Purple Heart. Paul would again be sent overseas for the Vietnam War.

Paul traveled all over the world and met many different people while serving his country. In 1971, Paul decided to live in Montana, working at Bozeman Deaconess for many years before retiring on a modest pension.

At 83, Paul was not in the best of health. His apartment and his collected treasures mean everything to him. Paul turned to HRDC for help. He received rental assistance from our Section 8 Rental Assistance Program, our Homemaker Program helped with shopping and cleaning, while our Gallatin Valley Food Bank delivered supplemental groceries to his door. Paul served his country and we are proud to be able to serve Paul.

Meet Paul

Meet David

David finds support while living with a disability through HRDC.

“Here comes trouble,” a familiar voice calls out. David walks into HRDC’s main office with a smile on his face. Leanne is at the front desk and is always happy to see David.  They catch up on weather, football scores, and joke a bit. He needs a little help getting through some paperwork and Leanne is ready to assist.

David’s education ended before middle school. He was able to find ranch and construction jobs to make a living, traveling throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. He ended up in Bozeman when an illness struck him in his early 40s. Eight painful surgeries and no cure left him unable to earn a living.

Frustrated, scared, and alone, he came to us at HRDC. David was in need of housing and assistance with filing for Social Security Disability. Our team assisted David with both. Over time his needs changed – our Galavan drives him to appointments, our Gallatin Valley Food Bank delivers senior groceries to his apartment, and our Section 8 Rental Assistance Program assists with his rent.

While the services we provide are crucial, many of our customers find friendships with our staff, which are just as helpful to them. One of David’s housing case managers has a photo at her desk of him wearing his beat-up cowboy hat. David has become a dear friend, his photo representing why we all love working at HRDC.

On a trip back from a recent doctor’s appointment, David told his Galavan driver, “Life may be hard sometimes, but it would be a lot harder if I didn’t have HRDC.”

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Brooke Poole

Public Sector

Since 2015, Brooke has been working with Allergan Aesthetics, Body Contouring. In 2018, Brooke began her role as Senior Manager of Training. Brooke graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Commercial Photography from Appalachian State University in 2011.

Brooke began her role on our Board in 2019. However, she feels it’s more fitting to say that she gets to serve on our Board. For Brooke, an evening at our Fork & Spoon was her first glance into our organization’s powerful work. As Brooke states, joining the Board has only expanded her appreciation for the caliber of people leading our mission and the impact of our vast ecosystem of services. While metrics alone are impressive, Brooke likes to visualize each number as an individual example of support – an extension of a helping hand, a moment of relief – given to one of our neighbors. She is grateful for the opportunity to participate in shaping HRDC’s future.

Although Brooke spends most of her volunteer time with HRDC, she was fortunate enough to build with Habitat for Humanity over the course of the summer in 2020. Her favorite place to spend time is anywhere under the Big Sky, although Hyalite may be her favorite place on Earth.

Ron Brey

Public Sector

Ron served as Bozeman’s Assistant City Manager from 1990 to 2008. After retiring, Ron joined our Board in 2011. Ron received his Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Montana in 1977, and his Masters in Science in Rural, Town, and Regional Planning from the University of Montana in 1987.

During his time with the City of Bozeman, Ron saw the important role that HRDC has played in our community. Ron has seen that HRDC provides necessary social services to assure that all Bozeman residents could obtain housing, food, training, employment and the other necessities of life. He also came to understand that HRDC was always able to respond immediately as new community needs arose. Ron believes that the dedication, hard work, and compassion of HRDC’s staff make it a real honor to serve on the Board.

Ron also serves on the Trails, Open Space and Parks Committee for the City of Bozeman, and as a volunteer with the Red Cross. One of Ron’s favorite activities is walking his beloved dog every day, enjoying many of Bozeman’s trails and parks, like Burke Park, Bozeman Creek, and the Hyalite and Mount Ellis areas. Ron and his wife Claire enjoy spending their days with family, friends, and time outdoors.