Category: News

Yellowstone’s Youth Deliver Easter Meals

A YBGR youth hauled meals on Christmas Day in 2015.
A YBGR youth hauled meals on Christmas Day in 2015.

About 15 youth from Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch are delivering meals to those in need on Easter Sunday as a part of the Montana Rescue Mission’s meal delivery program.

“We try to get the kids out there to see that there are people less fortunate than they are and give back to the community,” said John O’Dea, a mental health worker at YBGR. “Oftentimes, the kids are a little humbled and happy that they could help somebody.”

O’Dea has made it possible for YBGR youth to deliver Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals for close to 10 years. The youth involved are between the ages of 12 and 17.

“We enjoy having the young people of Yellowstone get involved with our program,” said Denise Smith, the public relations manager at Montana Rescue Mission. “With the help of volunteers, we are able to provide a happier Easter to folks in need throughout Billings.”

The Montana Rescue Mission was organized in 1955 for the poor and homeless in Billings and throughout the greater Yellowstone County area. The MRM provides emergency, temporary care, and rehabilitative services to those seeking help and solutions. Learn more at http://montanarescuemission.org/.

Volunteers Read with Yellowstone Academy Students

As Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.” That’s why students at Yellowstone Academy are looking forward to reading with volunteers from Phillips 66 to celebrate National Read Across America Day on March 2.

“Our students love meeting people from the community,” said Prudence Lybeck, Yellowstone Academy’s teacher for kindergarten through third grades. “They’ll be reading Dr. Seuss books and engaging in a variety of activities as they develop language and social skills.”

Phillips 66 employees and their families volunteered at YBGR by wrapping Christmas gifts for youth in 2015.
Phillips 66 employees and their families volunteered at YBGR by wrapping Christmas gifts for youth in 2015.

“Our employees jump at the opportunity to get involved with youth in the community,” said Bonnie Burks, the public relations coordinator for Phillips 66 Billings Refinery. “We enjoy partnering with Yellowstone to help kids.”

In addition to the Dr. Seuss festivities, the Texas Roadhouse will be serving a free lunch for the students, staff, and volunteers involved in the event.

“We’re thankful to have such strong community support,” said Gillette Vaira, Yellowstone’s director of public relations. “Phillips 66 and the Texas Roadhouse have gone out of their way to create a positive experience for these students, and we’re grateful for their time and energy.”

Close to 40 students in kindergarten through 12th grades participate in Yellowstone Academy’s day school program. The youth travel to and from YBGR’s 410-acre campus each day from their homes. YBGR, a nonprofit organization, is trusted locally and nationally as a leader in the field of mental health care for children and their families.

MSUB Students Sort Clothes for YBGR Youth

Shopping for clothes can sometimes become an unpleasant experience for young people. But for some of the youth served by Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, it may feel like an unattainable feat.

MSUB Student United Way volunteers cleaned and sorted the YBGR clothing rooms in the fall of 2015.
MSUB Student United Way volunteers cleaned and sorted the YBGR clothing rooms in the fall of 2015.

“Some youth arrive at Yellowstone with just the clothes on their backs or maybe a plastic bag full of belongings,” said Megan Olszewski, the marketing coordinator at YBGR. “Many of the youth we serve come from families who do not have the resources to help them meet basic needs.”

YBGR depends on volunteers to sort donated clothing in its clothing rooms, where youth can shop for clothes for free. Students from Montana State University Billings are sorting the clothing rooms on February 25 at 3 p.m.

“Organizing the clothing and shoes at Yellowstone is a direct way for us to help kids,” said Kristen Wederski, one of four resident assistants at MSUB who has helped to organize the volunteer event. “It’s the perfect service project for our students.”

About 65 children between the ages of 10 and 18 live on the 410-acre working ranch west of Billings. The youth live on campus year-round to receive mental health treatment. The clothing room is available to youth enrolled in YBGR’s mental health programs who may not have adequate clothing, who are preparing for job interviews, or who lose a significant amount of weight with effective medication management.

YBGR Announces New Medical Team

Five psychiatric providers from Montana Psychiatry are joining the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch’s medical team as independent contractors, effective January 6.

Dr. Erin Amato
Dr. Erin Amato

Erin Amato, MD, a child psychiatrist, will serve as the Ranch’s medical director. She has double board certification in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Deborah Malters, MD, and Belinda Hartley, MD, will also be practicing at the Ranch. The three psychiatrists are replacing Dr. Stephen Mandler, who left YBGR as the medical director on January 5.

“I’m looking forward to leading such a dynamic psychiatric team at YBGR,” said Amato, a Billings native. “Early diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders is essential in promoting healthy development. That’s what we’ll strive to do for the youth of YBGR.”

The Ranch is also welcoming Kelli Begley, a family psychiatric nurse practitioner, as well as Pat Francisco, a psychiatric physician’s assistant. Both Begley and Francisco are members of the Montana Psychiatry group.

“We are excited to bring on board such highly qualified, caring medical staff,” said Kevin Miller, the interim CEO of YBGR. “Families send their children to YBGR from all across the United States. We will continue to provide nothing but the best psychiatric treatment for them.”

Montana State Fund Presents YBGR with More than $95,000

Sally Venard, Safety Director
Sally Venard, Safety Director

Montana State Fund is presenting Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch with a dividend of $95,279.68. The check is being presented to YBGR as a result of proven results by implementing a successful culture of safety during the 2013-14 policy year.

“The safety of youth and employees at YBGR is our utmost priority,” said Sally Venard, the safety director at YBGR. “Reflective care and regular training in de-escalation techniques are major contributing factors to fewer injuries on our campus.”

Montana State Fund, the largest workers’ compensation insurance carrier in Montana, declared a record $35 million dividend in November. The dividend returns a portion of premiums back to those policyholders who have made a commitment to provide a safe workplace for their employees and, in turn, lower injury rates. Since 1999, MSF has returned more than $141 million to policyholders through the dividend process.

Seven-Year-Old Raises Funds for YBGR Youth

Seven-year-old Jacob Studer isn’t just an entrepreneur; he’s also a philanthropist.

Jacob Studer and his sister, Delaney, play on the Elder Grove School playground.
Jacob Studer and his sister, Delaney, play on the Elder Grove School playground.

“I started my own business,” Jacob said. “Too young for it? Doesn’t matter.”

Jacob, a second grade student at Elder Grove School, raised $121.50 for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch by selling artwork and raking his grandpa’s yard.

“I said $1 per pile of leaves, and I did five piles of leaves,” he said. “He made me do some other chores that got me $5.”

His grandma and aunt also made donations. The money went to Elder Grove students enrolled in YBGR’s Comprehensive School and Community Treatment program, a division of YBGR’s Community Based Services in Billings.

“We plan on taking a group of clients to the Festival of Trees, and we’ll use the rest of the money for art supplies and snacks for our kids,” said Lauren Poss, the YBGR behavior specialist at Elder Grove. “We are so thankful for Jacob’s compassion for the youth of our program.”

Jacob wrote a note to Elder Grove youth who are impacted by the YBGR program.
Jacob wrote a note to Elder Grove youth who are impacted by the YBGR program.

Jacob modestly described his efforts as a way to “help some kids that need it.” He added, “I just think it’s a good cause.”

Some friends recommended he spend his earnings on toys. But Jacob isn’t one to be swayed easily.

“He loved the idea of helping kids,” his dad, Luke Studer, said.

One of Jacob’s classmates lives on the YBGR campus, as his father works at the ranch. Jacob told him about his fundraiser.

“(He) was amazed because it went right to his neighborhood,” Jacob said.

Now that Jacob has donated to YBGR, he is onto his next campaign, Billings Best Hiking Sticks.

“He has his business plan,” said his mom, Anna Studer. “He hasn’t decided who to give it to.”

Jacob has made 14 hand-decorated walking sticks. For “grownups”, the walking sticks sell for $7 apiece. Youth can purchase them for $5 each.

His five-year-old sister, Delaney, is involved, too.

“I just hired her to hold up a sign that just said what my business was about,” he said.

Clockwise: Luke, Delaney, Jacob, and Anna Studer
Clockwise: Luke, Delaney, Jacob, and Anna Studer

His parents and grandpa help with the business, as well, but he’s keeping his costs low.

“I think they’re just being volunteers,” Jacob said.

“(There is) no family discount here,” his dad said. “He tells us we don’t get these for free.”

Jacob sells the sticks every Friday afternoon in his driveway.

“I know how to be a salesman,” he said.

Jacob’s charity-minded work didn’t just begin this year. In preschool, he donated money from his piggy bank to the Montana Rescue Mission.

“He’s always had a big heart for giving,” his dad said. “(We’re) just so proud. It’s all driven by him. He really does most of this on his own.”

Meanwhile, the Studer parents continue to talk with their children about helping those in need.

“We encourage it,” his dad said. “Whenever we can give, we give.”

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Appoints CFO

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch is welcoming their new chief financial officer, Dick Reich. His appointment became effective September 9, 2015.

dick-reich“We are delighted Dick Reich will be joining the YBGR executive leadership team,” said Shawn Byrne, the chief operating officer of YBGR’s Community Based Services division. “His professional knowledge of financial analysis, strategic planning, accounting, budget development, and cost-effective management of resources will serve us well.”

Prior to joining YBGR, Reich was the president of Reich Accounting Services, a professional firm that provided consulting and direct services in various financial areas to Billings-area public school districts. Reich was also previously the executive director of finance for Billings Public Schools.

“I look forward to joining a team of professionals who have dedicated their careers to providing help, hope, and healing to children, youth, and their families,” Reich said. “I am eager to be part of the team that will continue moving YBGR forward as we strive to provide the best mental health care to children and youth.”

Reich has a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Eastern Montana College.

YBGR is a nonprofit organization trusted locally and nationally as a leader in the field of mental health care for children and their families. YBGR staff impact approximately 650 youth each day through the residential psychiatric treatment facility in Billings and Community Based Services throughout Montana.

Interim CEO Appointed

The Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch board of directors has appointed Kevin Miller as the interim chief executive officer of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, effective September 8, 2015.

kevin-miller-8-12-15“We are delighted to welcome Kevin Miller to the YBGR family and look forward to the contributions he will make,” said Ron Sexton, the chairman of the YBGR board of directors. “He brings to YBGR a wealth of executive-level leadership and management experience in health care, including mental health, after serving in leadership positions at several prominent organizations.”

Miller served most recently as the president and chief executive officer of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System in Hutchinson, Kansas. He retired in June 2015.

“I am honored to accept the opportunity to lead this extraordinary organization through the transitional period in preparing for a permanent chief executive officer,” Miller said. “YBGR has a tradition of excellence in providing help, hope, and healing to youth and their families. Thousands of lives have been touched because of dedicated, passionate, and well-trained staff. I look forward to working with the board of directors, our staff, community and state leaders, and others as we strive to provide the best mental health care youth.”

As part of the executive team of Cleveland Clinic Health System, Miller served as the president and CEO of ACMC Healthcare System and Ashtabula County Medical Center in Ohio. He also served as the president and CEO of Medical Center of Southern Indiana. Miller worked in senior-level management positions at Charter Medical Corporation, the nation’s largest investor-owned behavioral healthcare provider, in addition to BroMenn Healthcare, Inc. and St. James Hospital in Illinois.

Miller is board-certified in health care management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He holds a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from the College of St. Francis and a Bachelor of Science in Medical Records Administration from Illinois State University. He is a Registered Health Information Administrator.

Miller replaces Shawn Byrne, who on July 6, 2015, was asked by the board of directors to serve as acting CEO until an interim CEO could be appointed. Byrne will return to his position as the Chief Operating Officer of Community Based Services for YBGR.

YBGR is a nonprofit organization trusted locally and nationally as a leader in the field of mental health care for children and their families. YBGR staff impact approximately 700 youth each day through the psychiatric residential treatment facility in Billings and Community Based Services throughout Montana.

Faith Chapel Volunteers at YBGR

Close to 100 Faith Chapel members will be volunteering at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch as a part of their weekly Tuesdays on the Town summer service project. The group will be painting buildings, landscaping, and making repairs across the 410-acre campus west of Billings.

Faith Chapel volunteers refinished a bridge on the YBGR campus in 2014.
Faith Chapel volunteers refinished a bridge on the YBGR campus in 2014.

“It’s exhilarating to see how we at Faith Chapel can directly impact our city,” said Ryan Gomendi, the event organizer. “It’s especially great knowing that our volunteer work is positively affecting youth at YBGR.”

Tuesday, July 28 marks the third time the group has donated their efforts and resources to help YBGR spiff up their campus.

“We are delighted to host Faith Chapel, and we’re thankful for their generosity,” said YBGR Chief Development Officer Christi Beals. “It’s folks like them who continue to make YBGR a beautiful place for youth to heal.”