Making the transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging, and it's a challenge that some students in Dr. Cherie McKeever’s Anatomy & Physiology class at Great Falls College-MSU understand first-hand.
“There are a few vets in our class, and within our class, we know what happens when you get out of the service,” said student and veteran Nathan Riley. “I know from personal experience that going from military life to civilian life is difficult.”
That’s why the class chose to collect items to donate to the new Grace Home, which provides housing for homeless veterans.
Each year, McKeever challengers her Anatomy & Physiology students to select a service project.
“They’re in A&P because they’re going into healthcare,” McKeever said. “I try to expose them to some of the needs in our community.”
“We talk about the ripple effect all the time,” she added, meaning that each student’s actions ripple out and impact more people than they may realize.
The service projects also show students the power of team work.
“They can see what they can do when they all work together,” McKeever said.
In years past, her classes have collected items for the Children’s Receiving Home and other organizations.
“This year, we wanted to do something new,” she said. “With Veteran’s Day, the timing was just perfect.”
McKeever’s two A&P classes created a competition to see which class could collect the most. (The morning class won). And together, the classes amassed a huge pile of food, coats, socks, hats, gloves and other items. They also named the competition “Operation Thanks through Giving” to reflect that the Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to show gratitude to veterans.
“As a class, we pulled together,” Riley said.
On Tuesday, the students presented their donation to representatives of the Grace Home.
“Many, many thanks to you guys,” Bill Chafin, member of the St. Stephen’s Conference, told the students. “I appreciate you so much.”
Many homeless veterans think their country doesn’t care about them, he said.
“The more we can do to let them know we do care, the better off they’re going to be,” Chafin said.
And the college’s donation goes a long way in showing the Grace Home’s residents that people do care about them.
Grace Home, which is operated by the St. Stephen’s Conference, has been a community endeavor from the start.
“Without the Great Falls community, we never would have gotten it done,” he said.
It took 4,800 man hours to renovate the building where the Grace Home is located, and numerous local businesses stepped in to donate time, money and needed supplies.
“Every time we ran into another mountain, there was another guy saying, ‘I can do that,’” Chafin said.
Chafin is pleased to see the community support continue for the Grace Home.
GFC MSU was honored to be able to help the new facility.
“With so many of our students being veterans, this is really import to us,” said GFC MSU CEO/Dean Dr. Susan Wolff. “We hope this is just the beginning of what we can do to help the Grace Home.”