Welcome to Helena, Sophia!
Helena, MT | June 10, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
From the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Sophia moved across the country to Helena, MT when given the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps member with YWCA Helena.
As the Social and Racial Justice VISTA, she uses her background in community organizing and historical study to bolster YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women” through building strong community bonds and expanding anti-racism resources.
Sophia earned her Bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she discovered her love for the mountains, yoga, and old bookstores.
Welcome to Helena, Alex!
Helena, MT | May 26, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
After growing up in Northeast Florida, Alex graduated from Flagler College with a degree in Anthropology. Her love for serving others landed her in Helena, MT working for Habitat for Humanity.
She loves hiking, beer, sports, and Archeology. Alex has traveled to 23 countries with Chile being her favorite so far. Alex loves to explore new places and spend her time outdoors.
Thank you for serving, Alyssa!
Great Falls, MT | May 21, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
AmeriCorps member Alyssa Coustenis, a Tonawanda Seneca, is from the Allegany Reservation (Salamanca, NY). She graduated from Delaware State University in 2019 where she majored in Communications with a minor in Sociology.
Alyssa serves at the National Native American Hall of Fame in Great Falls.
Welcome to Zoo Town, Krysten!
Great Falls, MT | May 19, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
I am originally from California, however I moved to Portland immediately after graduating high school. I am now a recent graduate of Portland State University, majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Geography.
My love of the outdoors has continued to grow throughout my studies, and I am off to find new adventures in Missoula, Montana. I spend most of my free time biking, hiking, cooking, and playing cards with friends.
I have volunteered with the homeless, elderly, and special needs people in my community throughout my life which gives me a critical insight into the struggles that these groups face. I want to help build a stronger local community and provide resources to people who are struggling. I hope to bring a critical perspective to this Americorps VISTA position and help build a stronger Missoula.
We are so happy to have you join, Chris!
Great Falls, MT | February 23, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
Chris Manos’ next “season of service” is as Rural Dynamics AmeriCorps VISTA in Helena, MT. He has been fortunate to live in Montana for many years and in the Helena community for the last 19 years. Public service and giving back has always been a primary focus, throughout his various jobs and in all the great communities he has lived.
With a Bachelor of Science, US Military Academy, West Point, NY, a law degree, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND and a Masters in Strategic Studies, Army War College, Carlisle, PA, his interests, careers and service have been varied. A veteran of 30 years with active and reserve duty, he has seen assignments and deployments in Europe, Asia and Southwest Asia. His community and professional involvement in a variety of non-profits and service organizations as a board member or in leadership positions have contributed to his knowledge and experience, underscoring his teamwork and collaborative approach to every task.
Completing a first year of service as an Economic Development Administration (EDA) AmeriCorps VISTA, I am excited to start a second year as a Rural Dynamics AmeriCorps VISTA continuing community economic success and a Volunteer Assignment Description (VAD) focusing on workforce development initiatives with Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) and Gateway Economic Development District (GEDD), for the three-county region of Broadwater, Lewis & Clark and Meagher, Montana.
Welcome AmeriCorps NCCC Purple 7!
Great Falls, MT | January 20, 2021 // Rural Dynamics
AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region members on team Purple landed in #Montana last week to serve with RDI via our Tax Help Montana program! This year, we have a goal to help 6,000+ households with their tax prep.
Follow us for more tax site updates starting next week!
Welcome to National Service at Rural Dynamics, Amy!
Great Falls, MT | December 29, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Amy is joining the Great Falls Library as an AmeriCorps Vista. In this role, she will be building upon the library’s efforts to grow its community reach through a social media ambassador program, Little Free Libraries, and a formalized program to engage volunteers. With a background in marketing and community engagement, as well as a lifelong passion for libraries, Amy is excited to serve the Great Falls Library, its foundation, and the community of Great Falls.
Amy’s lifelong passion for libraries began at a young age. From as young as five, Amy recalls Saturday visits to the library with her father, where she was able to pick out five books to check out and bring home. Starting in first grade, she remembers vividly walking with her classmates to the local library in Harrisburg, PA and getting a tour of the local library. Programming such as puppet shows, read along aloud with a librarian, and summer reading contests were engaging and encouraged Amy to embrace her love of learning. As a teen, Amy was fortunate to witness her town of Camp Hill build a new library from the ground up, made possibly by generous donations from benefactors and donors within the community. She spent the next few years volunteering at the library. Her proudest moments include helping seniors to create documents using Microsoft Word and to fundraise money for Teen Space, a safe and comfortable area for teens to read, do homework, and feel at home while at the library.
Flash forward to present day, Amy can be found exploring new places with her dog Scout, frequenting local coffee shops and bookstores, or browsing the book stacks at the local library, on the hunt for the next read! She is an active member of Children Media Association and the Junior League, non-profits focused on enriching and empowering the lives of children. Libraries serve various populations and are focal points of the community in which they serve, uniquely positioned to make a direct impact on people’s lives. Amy is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the community of Great Falls and to continue the legacy of the Great Falls Library.
Welcome to National Service at Rural Dynamics, Skyler!
Great Falls, MT | December 28, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Skyler Manley is a multimedia storyteller with a strong interest in documentary production. She recently graduated from Flagler College in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Production and Journalism with a minor in Political Science.
With a passion for honest and emotional storytelling, Skyler has a focus on working with subjects to make sure that they tell their own story.
She hopes to bring that passion to share YWCA Helena’s mission and help amplify their voice to the community through social media and digital content creation join the team behind their pursuit to provide safe supportive housing, empower women, promote justice and dignity for all.
Welcome to National Service at Rural Dynamics, Adair!
Great Falls, MT | November 23, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Adair Peach has joined Rural Dynamics as an Americorps VISTA. She will be working with low income, disabled, and aging community members, helping them with their financial education, empowerment, and well-being.
Adair is a recent graduate of Montana State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. She was a tutor for multiple different math programs during college and has always had a love for numbers.
Adair was born and raised here in Montana. In her spare time, she enjoys all things DIY, cooking, and spending time with her dog, Izzie.
Welcome to National Service in MT, Tyler!
Helena, MT | November 10, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Tyler Myhand is an AmeriCorps VISTA member currently serving with Habitat for Humanity/Restore in Helena, MT.
Through his work there, he strives to expand to capabilities of Habitat for Humanity in Helena and to create and support community partnerships.
Tyler has previously served as a support team leader in the National Civilian Community Corps, where he spent time serving disadvantaged communities in the Greater Indianapolis area alongside Jameson Camp. Tyler also served with the Whiterock Conservancy, addressing the environmental needs of Coon Rapids, Iowa and the surrounding land.
He has a love of travel, mountains, and great food.
Welcome to National Service in MT, Julia!
Helena, MT | Sept. 22, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Julia has joined YWCA Helena as the Programs Research VISTA. She is transitioning to social services from a career in chemical engineering and will use her experience in data analysis and project management to support capacity building and improve outcomes.
Julia was raised in Virginia and has spent the past few years in Chicago, where she found her passion working with women while volunteering at a transitional housing shelter. She is new to Montana and exploring Helena through her favorite things, which include hot yoga, pottery, and dogs.
Thank you for a 2nd Year of National Service in MT, Abby!
Missoula, MT | Sept. 16, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Abby is in her second year of serving the Montana World Trade Center as an Americorps VISTA. She works closely with the Executive Director with a focus on foreign direct investment. Working remotely, she concentrates on content development, trade show planning, group organization and numerous other projects.
Being outdoors and supporting her community are important to Abby. She enjoys hiking, running, paddleboarding, skiing and snowshoeing. She also serves as chair of the Montana’s Longest Table event, board member for the Montana Winter Fair, Fergus County Port Authority board member and volunteers for other local community events.
When not working on MWTC endeavors, she is working on her family ranch in Central Montana growing wheat, barley and hay and raising beef cattle.
Thank you for a 2nd Year of National Service in MT, Erika!
Missoula, MT | Sept. 14, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Erika Rasmussen is serving her second term as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Women’s Foundation of Montana, moving from California to Missoula, Montana in August of 2019. Having had previous experience as a small business manager, Erika immediately identified with WFM’s mission to “increase economic opportunities for women and create a brighter future for girls.” She works closely with the Program Director, creating online, print, and educational content for PowerHouse Montana, a program of WFM that creates a professional community for women in Montana.
Erika earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Culture and minored in Chemistry at Oberlin College in Ohio. There, she found her deep love for bikes, writing, and coffee.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) Announces Rural Dynamics Winner of $50,000 HKHF Grant
HELENA, September 9, 2020 // BCBSMT
In an effort to address the toll that financial stress takes on health care costs, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) has awarded Rural Dynamics with a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® grant.
Rural Dynamics, a statewide nonprofit organization, is developing a program to help Montanans be more financially astute, therefore reducing the likelihood of financial stress, increased health risks, and costs associated with it.
The HKHF initiative is an ongoing commitment by BCBSMT to invest in and partner with like-minded nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in the five following areas: nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, substance abuse prevention, and suicide prevention. The goal of the program is to improve access to quality care and drive down the future cost of health care.
“We care deeply about the physical, social and emotional wellness of our communities, and we’re proud to invest in innovative organizations that support children and their families throughout Montana,” said John Doran, BCBSMT Divisional Vice President of External Affairs. “These efforts are even more important now, as our fellow Montanans grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it continues to have in all aspects of our lives.”
In collaboration with BCBSMT, Benefis Health Systems, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security, Rural Dynamics rolled out a Financial Coaching program for Benefis and Great Falls Public Schools employees.
The program offers clients individualized plans for personal finance goals and education to make financially fit decisions.
Welcome to National Service in MT, Katy!
Helena, MT | Sept. 8, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
I am Kathryn Rasmussen, relocating to Helena, MT from Tacoma, WA to work as the Social and Racial Justice Program Assistant at the YWCA Helena. I come from a land of natural beauty and opportunities which is why Helena is such a refreshing change in a new outdoor-accessible environment.
The YWCA Helena has been under lots of construction and new leadership changes. Many new employees have been hired along with several AmeriCorps members under a new grant. The YWCA houses women transitioning out of the criminal justice system as well as supports many in maintaining sobriety and regaining custody of their children. I am going to be working closely with our social and racial justice team working to eliminate injustices towards women and POC in Helena.
Welcome to National Service in MT, Jonas!
Missoula, MT | Sept. 3, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Jonas Munson is serving as an Americorps VISTA at Recycling Works in Missoula, MT. Munson is passionate about protecting the environment and creating a more equitable society for all. At Recycling Works, he helps in a variety of roles including digital marketing, copywriting, customer service, and accounting.
Previously, Jonas earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2021, he hopes to begin graduate school with a focus in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Welcome to National Service in MT, Aly!
Missoula, MT | Aug. 25, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
Aly Reynolds has been recruited by the Rural Dynamics VISTA program and has begun serving as an Americorps VISTA at Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) in Missoula, MT. She is serving in a role that focuses on marketing, outreach, and communications. Her work centers on connecting community members to the mission of CFAC.
CFAC develops and strengthens Missoula County’s food system and that of the surrounding region by supporting local farmers and ranchers, administering the state-wide Double SNAP Dollars food assistance program, and advocating for local, state and national policies that promote the local food system. Aly is very excited to learn from CFAC’s team of passionate, motivated individuals who are helping shape a more resilient food system!
Aly received her Bachelor’s in Strategic Communication and International Development from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Throughout her studies, Aly grew a passion for community food access. Her International Development program led her to study for a semester in Honduras, where she took part in a community garden program. Witnessing communities taking charge of their own food system caused a shift—Aly knew then she wanted to pursue a career in sustainable food systems. Upon her return, Aly worked on an urban farm and interned in various communication roles. She hopes to use her voice alongside those advocating for better food systems, something CFAC specializes in. Aly looks forward to serving with CFAC for her VISTA year.
Fighting Systemic Rascism
Farmington Hills, MI | June 1, 2020 // GreenPath Financial Wellness
The Rural Dynamics team has committed to educating ourselves about racism and allyship. We stand in solidarity with our affiliated organizations, Calrifi and GreenPath Financial Wellness in addressing injustice and improving racial equity.
Communities of color and indigenous communities experience greater degrees poverty and other economic disparities. Generational poverty is not just about assets, but mainly access. For Rural Dynamics to meet its mission to help individuals and families pursue financial security, we will be intentional and actively committed to breaking down barriers to racial equity.
The Rural Dynamics Team
Responding to Coronavirus at Rural Dynamics
Great Falls, MT | March 21, 2020 // Rural Dynamics
In this time of uncertainty we’d like to take a moment to express our hope that you remain, safe, healthy, and hopeful as the global community navigates the difficulty ahead. It is critical that we all take steps to embody our humanity and work to ensure the best outcome for ourselves and those that surround us.
People are at the center of everything we do. As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, we are closely monitoring the situation and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the health and well-being of our clients, our staff and volunteers, and our community.
For ongoing safety and precautions, we are preparing to work from home, attend meetings remotely, and are deferring travel.
During this social distancing, it is crucial to not lose sight of the connectedness we share. We are taking every effort to hold on to good we see in the world and to rise above the fear that has caused some to make racist and xenophobic statements. COVID19 can infect any person from any background, and it is imperative that we can remain united in spite of the physical distance we take.
Rural Dynamics is especially mindful of our senior volunteers and vulnerable populations we interact with every day. Our community is in the forefront of our mind, and along with the health authorities’ precautions we are making every effort to remain accessible during this time for services our clients need.
COVID19 is new territory for us all to navigate. We look to our values at this time, because now is when they matter. We hope that you may stay present, be safe and responsible, and lean into the good humanity has to offer. Even when that may feel difficult.
The Rural Dynamics Team
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Rural Dynamics is moving to downtown Great Falls!
Great Falls, MT | September 12, 2019 // Rural Dynamics
We are excited to announce that we are relocating our Great Falls, MT office. We will be closing the current office beginning Wednesday, September 11, 2019 in preparation for the move.
Rural Dynamics will re‐open Monday, September 16, 2019 in our new office location.
Effective Monday, September 16, our team will be available at Rural Dynamics’ new office located in downtown Great Falls at the address below:
410 Central Ave Suite 401 Great Falls, MT 59401
Correspondence and deposits should continue to be mailed to our PO Box:
Rural Dynamics PO Box 2326
Great Falls, MT 59403
We appreciate the opportunity of working with you and look forward to continuing to partner with you in serving our beneficiaries.
The Rural Dynamics Team
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana Awards Rural Dynamics $50,000 Grant to Address Connection Between Financial Stress and Well-being
HELENA, Aug. 13, 2019 /BCBSMT/ — Money talks — and so do rising health care costs. In an effort to address the toll that financial stress takes on health care costs, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) has awarded Rural Dynamics with a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® grant.
Rural Dynamics, a nonprofit organization based in Great Falls, is developing a program to help Montanans be more financially astute, therefore reducing the likelihood of financial stress and the health risks and costs associated with it.
“Financial stress takes a real toll on mental health and physical wellbeing and contributes to rising health care costs,” said John Doran, BCBSMT Divisional Vice President of External Affairs. “The Rural Dynamics proposal addresses the root cause of financial distress. Not only will this proposal relieve the mental anguish of financial problems, it has great potential to also reduce future health care costs as a result.
“Addressing mental health is not a one-size-fits-all approach and this is a new and unique way of treating one of its underlying symptoms.”
Sen. Tom Jacobson of Great Falls is the executive director of Rural Dynamics and visited BCBSMT’s Helena headquarters Tuesday, where Doran and approximately 60 BCBSMT employees gathered to surprise him with the grant.
“When we opened the door and saw the big check, that was quite the surprise. It was a very good surprise,” Jacobson said. “We’ve been working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield for almost a year now to try and look at ways that we can address the financial wellness of individuals so that it has an improved physical wellness on the back end.”
In collaboration with BCBSMT, GreenPath Financial Wellness, Benefis Health Systems, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security, Rural Dynamics intends to test several tools to determine how to best serve those in need, including:
- Providing online prevention tools to educate and assist families in budgeting and planning for financial security
- Completing an assessment of income and expenses to form the baseline for developing a budget and plan to pay for expenses not covered by insurance
- Debt repayment plans with health care providers that may consist of negotiated payment or other concessions
- Allowing for affordability within the family’s budget
- Other interventions that are identified as desirable and feasible to users and stakeholders through the design process