Money waiting for former Spanish Peaks employees

Taylor Anderson
Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

After about a month of fundraising efforts for the revamped Big Sky LIFT program to give money to laid off Spanish Peaks employees, officials are finding applicants slow to come out of the woodwork.

The program, aimed at providing former Spanish Peaks employees with aid this winter, has far more money than it can provide to applicants, but it’s early yet.

Grants were given out in mid-November to the first (and only) five applicants, who received a total of $8,300, an average of $1,660.

The Montana Community Foundation out of Helena runs the program, and had collected $65,000 as of Nov. 30, according to Nicole Rush of MTCF.

“We haven’t received as many as we’d like but I think we’ll see more” as the holidays near, Rush said.

The program was first started in 2009 to assist employees in the wake of the Yellowstone Club’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and was resurrected after Spanish Peaks closed and its parent company filed Chapter 7.

“The sentiment I’d like to get across on this is hopefully we get more people to apply,” said John Haas, one of the coordinators of the program.

Haas said the application process is easy, and that so far, Spanish Peaks members have donated all the money available.

“There’s this outpour of generosity by the members trying to give love out that was given by the employees in the past,” he said.

The money sits in a bank account if the funds aren’t given to Spanish Peaks employees, and would possibly open up to everyone in Big Sky who’s been effected by the bankruptcy or recession in general, Rush said.

“It will definitely be spent in Big Sky in one way or another. That’s its purpose.”