January 2021
UWYC Wednesday Wins
A Note from Our
Board Chair

While I did not actually see 2021 arrive (I gave it my best shot but to no avail), I did awake embracing the hope that 2021 brings to the entire world. In keeping with tradition, setting a couple of New Year’s Resolutions was the first task of the day, okay maybe the second task – right after the coffee was made! It was tempting to jot down a few of my old-standbys that typically dissipate into thin air after a month: lose a few pounds, get more rest, drink less soda, and eat more vegetables, etc.… But they just didn’t seem to fit, not after what everyone in this world has experienced in 2020 and the hard work, but work that is filled with hope, which lies ahead of us. No, a truly meaningful resolution is what was needed. Luckily United Way of Yellowstone County is the vehicle for me to channel the energy of my resolution, that of being intentional in helping our Billings community be healthy and vibrant throughout 2021. 

United Way of Yellowstone County has opportunities for each of us to give in a way that is impactful to OUR community, OUR family. Right now, financial contributions are critical in allowing us to continue supporting our impact areas of Crisis Stabilization, Youth Empowerment: School Readiness and Success, Senior Independence, and our Partner Grants which are given to our ever important community partners who provide invaluable services to the community. Unfortunately, these areas of necessity have been compounded and our community needs us more now than ever before. One of the strengths of United Way is to build community coalitions and direct outreach that rally to provide a contiguous pipeline of services to those that need it the most, during the most challenging of times. I have always taken great comfort in knowing that the generous contributions of the hard working folks of Billings make to United Way, go right back to OUR community, OUR family.

I am looking forward to the hands-on-volunteer experiences, that ‘fill the heart’s bucket,’ when it is safe to do-so again. But for now, we are finding different ways to still serve the Billings community and I personally thank you for helping us fulfill our mission and for your help in engaging those you know in becoming acquainted with United Way of Yellowstone County. May your New Year’s Resolutions bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment to you, your family, your friends, and your community.

With sincere gratitude,
Brenda Koch
K-12 Executive Director, Billings Public Schools
The UWYC office is currently open by appointment only, please reach out to us directly if you need to visit us in person.

Brenda Ludwig
211 Manager

Brenda has worked at UWYC for 6 years and oversees Montana 211 for southeastern MT.
What three traits define you?
Patient, kind and creative.

What is your personal philosophy?
Treat others how you want to be treated.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
My family.

What are you listening to/reading these days?
I just started Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Where is your favorite place to be?
On a beach.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
My dad.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Who are the 3 people, living or dead, who you would invite?
Martin Luther King Jr., Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey.

What would you serve at your dinner?
Blue cheese crusted steak

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Clothing designer.

What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school?
Don't be afraid to ask for help.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
You don't have to please everyone all the time. Be a leader, not a follower.

Amity Burkhardt
After 5 years of dedicated service as our Education Impact Coordinator, Amity has accepted an exciting position with Billings Public Schools! We will miss the vision and dedication she poured into her work, ensuring every student had the necessary tools and supports to succeed.

What was your favorite/most impactful project or event you worked on during your time at UWYC?
Developing mentoring for elementary and middle school students.

What will you bring with you into your new role that you learned at UWYC?
This has been the first time I’ve worked for a nonprofit, and I’ve really enjoyed how much I’ve learned about the service agencies and nonprofits in our community while at United Way. I’ve met so many great people and learned how our community is working together to make this a great place to live! 

I’ve also learned a significant amount about the research of factors that negatively or positively impact a child’s success. 90% of brain development happens before age 5, so this role has made me a huge proponent of early childhood, parenting, and family support to make these years a priority.  

Join us in wishing Amity the best in her new role as she continues to positively impact the youth in our community!
Quarterly Coalition Update
Some of UWYC's most impactful work is accomplished through our Community Coalitions. We know that change is most effective when the community rallies behind an issue. The Coalitions, backed by UWYC, are made up of local experts passionate about making change. Learn more about what they are up to below!
Completed an updated resource directory of childcare providers!
  • Was done in response to childcare needs from the COVID pandemic.
  • Updated past directories and put it online for easy access.

Held an introduction meeting with legislators!
  • Remote meeting with current legislators and candidates.
  • Introduced them to Best Beginnings as an ongoing resource.
  • Discussed a few key issues such as childcare, early childhood impact on business, prevention of abuse…
Continuum of Care
Opened a new facility to serve homeless!
  • In response to rising needs during COVID-19 crisis.
  • Named “Off The Streets”
  • Formerly the Western Inn – Purchased by HAB Development (a subsidiary of the Housing Authority of Billings).
  • Provides low-barrier shelter to homeless persons unable to access other services and would otherwise be on the streets
  • Includes a COVID-19 Quarantine/ Isolation site in partnership with RiverStone Health
Conducted a Strategic Planning process!
  • Gained extensive input from CoC members and community partners, including city council and county commissioners.
  • Updated the CoC mission and vision.
  • Created values to guide our work.
  • Created key goals and action plans to achieve goals.
  • Guided by Jennifer Owen with Designing Trust LLC
Learn More About the Continuum of Care
Implementing programs identified in the strategic planning process!
  • Finishing plans to implement a new program called “Healthy SPARC.”
  • An interactive, remote program that connects with expectant mothers who have addictions. Provides tips, support, regular check-ins, and opportunities to connect with live support when needed.
Multiple applications and funding proposals have been submitted to support ongoing operations!

Pursuing plans to incorporate a full time director and support persons to manage the coalition and programs!

Working to more formally connect CoC and SAC to combine resources towards shared goals!

Rimrock Foundation has agreed to be the new backbone support agency in 2021!
  • We have been honored to support the coalition work and feel it is now time for SAC to move to a larger organization with larger capacity to continue coalition growth.
  • UWYC is in full support of this decision and change and will remain involved and support SAC's efforts. 
YCOAD Food Group
Started from the Yellowstone County Organizations Active in Disaster Committee as a response to growing food needs during the COVI-19 pandemic!

Meet regularly to share resources and make sure food was getting to those most in need!

Completed a food provider survey that included each agency’s current needs, resources, capacity, and ability to help other agencies!
Resolve to Multiply Your Caring!
Improve lives by joining current opportunities to respond to the impact the pandemic is having on all of us.
Ongoing Events
  • Caring in Action
  • We have pivoted our annual volunteer day - Day of Caring - to perpetually provide high-quality volunteer opportunities for businesses, groups and individuals! It is our hope that this shift will allow for more flexibility with agencies and companies to make a big impact in Yellowstone County while abiding by current health precautions.
  • 2020 Annual Campaign
  • The work we do cannot be accomplished without the support of our community. There's still time to make your contribution!
  • 60th Anniversary Celebration
  • In 2021 we celebrate 60 years of improving lives in Yellowstone County! Stay tuned for fun and exciting ways to get involved.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our 2020 Annual Campaign! As we all know, this year has been particularly challenging for our community. We greatly appreciate each and every person who make the choice to support UWYC and ensure vital resources remain operational to those who need help the most.

We understand that the past six months have left a lot of our neighbors in difficult financial position. If you are in need of resources, 211 is available by phone or website to get you connected.
You can still contribute to Campaign!
Workplace Campaigns
If your workplace is running a Campaign, please fill out your pledge card.

If you would like more information about running a Campaign, reach out to our Communications and Campaign Coordinator - Lisa McDaniel
We are harnessing the power of social media with a Peer-to-Peer Campaign this year.

Simply donate and feel good for making a difference!

Take it a step further and hardness your network to make an even bigger impact!

Online Giving
As always, our website is able to accept your one-time or recurring donation.

You can also mail your contribution to:

United Way of Yellowstone County
2173 Overland Ave
Billings, MT 59101
Does your family, service organization, social group or company want to give back to our community through volunteering? Click the picture above to view current volunteer opportunities in Yellowstone County!

If you would like your organization's opportunities listed, contact Pam: