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HRDC kicks off virtual fundraising event to support those struggling with southwest Montana’s high cost of living

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BOZEMAN – Now in its fifth year, the Human Resource Development Council’s annual UnGala fundraising event is underway once again during this holiday season of giving, and community members are invited to participate.

Kristin Hamburg, HRDC’s resource development director, conceived of the UnGala as a way to engage donors in a more pragmatic way.

“In lieu of purchasing a costly ticket and attending an annual formal affair, as has been a more traditional fundraising strategy for non-profits, UnGala event participants can give at their leisure,” Hamburg said. “We quickly found that our supporters were quite appreciative of our efforts to ensure any money received went directly to programming needs and not to covering the cost of a big event.”

While this event is virtual, the needs this year are especially tangible. HRDC relies on the generosity of the community to address a number of real, practical issues. Given southwest Montana’s high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, many more of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet. The inability to keep food on the table in a consistent manner, and in many cases, a roof over heads, are pressing challenges.

During 2021, HRDC doubled its capacity to support those experiencing homelessness in both its Bozeman and Livingston emergency shelters, and its food bank operations have distributed more than 2 million pounds of food. In addition, given the residual and ongoing impacts of COVID-19, HRDC’s outreach has been far and wide with the lives of over 15,000 people having been positively impacted by various services in the past year alone.

In recent years, the quality of life of so many local residents has decreased as costs have increased. It’s difficult for people on fixed incomes to make ends meet. Young adults and couples feel priced out of the housing market. The very workers that are counted on to keep the community up and running are often forced into excessive commute times or choose to relocate to another more affordable town altogether. Whether it’s helping people afford their rent, car maintenance costs or medications, HRDC offers many tools that stretch budgets by offsetting household costs in another manner. Community support is critical. When the community rallies it resources, HRDC steps in to create the greatest impact.

This year’s UnGala fundraising goal is $125,000, which will be applied to the community’s greatest needs. Hamburg spoke to the indelible impact that each donor makes: “Be it $25 or $25,000, every dollar supports our neighbors with tools and resources to reduce unnecessary suffering and improve quality of life.”

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