GREAT FALLS — Toby's House Crisis Nursery in Great Falls recently marked its one-year anniversary. The nursery is named in honor of October "Toby" Perez. She was two-years old when she was killed by her mother’s boyfriend in 2011. More than a decade later, the nursery created in her honor is working to help children in similar situations.
Toby’s House offers free, temporary care to children and families that are experiencing a crisis. “A crisis can be defined as anything but sometimes life just throws you curve balls and Toby’s House is here to help you catch those curve balls and to make sure that no child is abused or neglected,” explained Susie Zeak, the director of Toby’s House.
Toby’s House has helped many families and parents when they are in need. From care to giving necessities like baby formula or diapers, the program does it all.
“Typically, parents bring their children here when they have an appointment, and they don’t have a safe person to watch their child. We care for families that might be experiencing homelessness and we are here so that they can go find an apartment or housing,” Susie said. “So, Toby’s House is a safe place to bring your children when you don’t have a safe option”
Recognizing all of the care Toby’s House does for children in the community, the First Congregational United Church of Christ decided to help by donating $20,000 to the program.
“We love that Toby’s House is care-for-children, we love that it is preventative, and we love that it is non-judgmental. When parents are in need, it just seems like Toby’s House keeps its doors wide open,” said Reverend Lynne Spencer-Smith.
To give good quality care and to run a good quality program that is free of charge can be very expensive at times.
Susie added, “They asked me about what it takes to keep Toby’s House open for one month and I put out a number for about eighteen thousand dollars a month.”
Lynne said, “We got talking about wouldn’t it be great to completely fund Toby’s House for a month. And then we thought well, eighteen thousand dollars – that’s kind of weird figure, let’s just round it up to twenty.”
The church and Reverend Lynne are excited to see the program grow and how much the donation is going to positively impact the community.
“One of our big things of the church is, no matter who you are or where you are, you’re welcome here. I think that is one of the things that we saw expressed in Toby’s House. There’re no questions, if the parents determine that there’s a need for care for their children, the door is open, and they are welcome there and so it just felt like such a natural extension to donate those funds,” Lynne said.
“It’s just going to be used to keep our doors open, keep our lights on, and just continue to provide the best care to children, free of charge," said Zeak.
To learn more, volunteer, or donate, click here to visit the website. You can also call 406-770-3191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.