News

Legacy Foundation Receives $258,000 Grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation is pleased to announce they are recipients of a major grant in the amount of $258,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. This grant will help fund the construction of the Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing, a free, temporary patient housing facility, which has been in the works since 2017. With this exciting news, the Foundation has scheduled their facility groundbreaking event for Friday, September 18th. For more information on the groundbreaking, please visit our website at gfclegacy.org or contact Audrey at 406-216-8057.

“We couldn’t be more thankful that the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust chose to support the Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing project out of the many grant proposals it receives each year. Patient housing is so valuable to Central Montana and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust recognized and acknowledged this with their generous gift and support,” stated Executive Director, Samantha Shinaberger.

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to nonprofit organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Learn more about the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust at murdocktrust.org.

The Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c) (3), announced its plans for future patient housing in 2017. The Great Falls Clinic sees an average of 650 surgical and 400 cancer care patients per month, with approximately 42 percent of those patients traveling from out of town. Helping those patients and families from around Montana, seeking treatment at the Great Falls Clinic was part of the vision of the Foundation. Patient care and comfort is of the utmost importance to the Foundation, and patient housing is now their top priority.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, who was a co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. in Beaverton, Oregon, and a resident of Vancouver, Washington. Since its establishment on June 30, 1975, with a bequest of about $90 million, the Trust has focused its grantmaking efforts primarily in five states of the Pacific Northwest: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The Trust’s current assets are valued at over $1 billion, and over the life of the Trust, more than $1 billion has been distributed through more than 7,000 grants.

The Trust’s mission is to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, social, cultural, and spiritual base in creative and sustainable ways. Grants are awarded to a wide variety of organizations, including those that serve the arts, public affairs, education, scientific research, health and medicine, human services, and people with disabilities.

The Trust’s staff brings a wide range of experiences in the subject areas and activities necessary for thoughtful grantmaking and the investment of Trust assets. In addition to grantmaking activities, it is common Trust practice to convene groups of people to discuss issues of mutual interest. This practice is of great assistance to the Trust in exploring ways of responding to new grantmaking opportunities consistent with its mission, promoting a sharing of ideas and networking among participants, and understanding new developments and best practices in the various sectors in which the Trust works.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.gfclegacy.org or call (406) 771-3107.

About the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation

The Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), announced its plans for future patient housing last June. The Great Falls Clinic sees an average of 650 surgical and 400 cancer care patients per month, with approximately 42 percent of those patients traveling from out of town. Helping those patients and families from around Montana, seeking treatment at the Great Falls Clinic was part of the vision of the Foundation. Patient care and comfort is of the utmost importance to the Foundation, and patient housing is now their top priority.

 “Our patients are our number one priority and helping to relieve some of the financial burden of medical care, as well as, housing and travel costs associated with out-of-town visits is important,” said Samantha Shinaberger, Executive Director. “The housing facility will reduce the amount of stress placed on our patients seeking medical care.  Knowing their housing and travel is taken care of for the duration of their treatment is meaningful to them,” she added.

The patient housing facility will feature 12 patient guest rooms, including double queen rooms and single king rooms to accommodate large and small families. The rooms will be handicap- accessible and patient-friendly. To accommodate all lengths of patient treatments, all rooms will have a kitchenette and other hotel amenities. Along with patient rooms, the facility will feature an entry atrium displaying a donor recognition tree, a self-serve kitchen and dining area, family gathering areas, a laundry room, and an exterior gathering area with a fire pit.

“The community of Great Falls and surrounding areas would benefit greatly from the proposed housing project, especially knowing they are helping some very ill, financially burdened patients. In some patient cancer cases, a course of radiotherapy may take as long as eight weeks to complete, with treatments given daily,” said Vicki Newmiller, CEO of the Great Falls Clinic and board member of the GFC Legacy Foundation. “Without patient housing available for these patients, they would be required to stay in a hotel, sometimes far away from their treatment center, which only adds to their financial burden,” added Newmiller.

The Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation, started in 2016, was created to help patients seeking treatment at the Great Falls Clinic. The Foundation’s mission is to bring hope and healing to Great Falls and surrounding communities, by providing the best access to healthcare possible. The Foundation seeks to achieve its mission of hope and healing through funding approaches that will result in: providing affordable housing and travel options for patients and families in need, increasing the level of care for all patients, promoting patient health and wellness, expanding opportunities beyond just housing and travel assistance that will bring hope and healing to the Great Falls community.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 09.08.2020
CONTACT: Samantha Shinaberger | Executive Director
Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation
T: (406) 771-3107
samantha.shinaberger@gfclinic.com

Donor of the Month – Brian Allison!

Brian Allison works as a Medical Scheduler for the Ophthalmology and Optometry Department at the Great Falls Clinic. He moved to Great Falls in 2014 from Missoula for work and found an opportunity with the Great Falls Clinic.

Brian Allison donor of the month
Brian Allison

Brian first heard about the Legacy Foundation through the Executive Director, Samantha Shinaberger. “She has been very good about getting the word out to all the Clinic employees about the Legacy Foundation. I asked her about the programs and immediately hopped on board with a payroll deduction.”

Brian started donating a little less than a year ago. Although he hasn’t lived in Great Falls or worked at the Clinic for very long, he immediately understood the importance of giving back to the community.

“My inspiration for donating has been the times where I myself have benefited from donations given to me and my family. I try to donate a little each paycheck because of that. The Legacy Foundation makes it easy to give because, as a Clinic employee, I have access to automatic payroll deductions. I don’t even see the money. It’s also important because my donations are going to several good causes,” Brian shares.

Brian currently donates to the Legacy Foundation’s three primary funds: the free patient housing project, the pediatric medical fund, and the cancer travel fund. Brian is the only employee at the Clinic to donate to all three and the first employee to ask if this was even a possibility.

“I think it’s important to help those that are less fortunate or in positions that no one should be in. Especially in Central and Eastern Montana, we have patients that travel hours one-way for our services and in some instances they have too much on their mind so if this donation can help them in any way I’m all for it. I know that people with cancer or other medical conditions have a lot more to think about than how they are going to get to their appointments or where they are going to stay while here.”

Brian adds that it’s really easy to get involved at the Clinic with various projects and he wishes more employees would get involved with the payroll deduction. “It goes to wonderful causes and all you have to do is set it up with Samantha and forget about it. Every little bit helps reach the goals of the programs!”

From all of us at the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation, thank you Brian for your generosity and continued support!

Welcome Audrey Phillips!

We are pleased to welcome Audrey Phillips as our new Foundation Assistant at the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation. Audrey is new to Great Falls and looks forward to learning and growing in her new role with the Foundation.

Audrey is originally from Kansas, but moved to Montana in June 2020 with her husband, Jackson. Audrey attended Kansas State University in Manhattan KS where she earned her Bachelor of Science in History and a minor in Geography in 2020. Audrey and Jackson then moved to Great Falls for his work at General Mills. Audrey is excited to have a position which will connect her more to the community of Great Falls and surrounding areas and for the ability to help vulnerable patients across Montana.

In her free time, Audrey enjoys spending time with her husband and making new friends. Her hobbies include reading, knitting, and studying history. Audrey and Jackson both enjoy the beautiful scenery around Great Falls and look forward to getting to know the area more. 

If you need to contact Audrey, her phone number is 406-216-8057 and her email is Audrey.Phillips@gfclinic.com. 

My Grandpa’s Fight with Brain Cancer by Samantha Shinaberger

Grandpa Dan was taken to the Emergency Room in 2011, shortly after I started my first year of college. He was struggling to button his worn out, but nicely pressed western button-down, plaid shirt. After detesting the trip to Great Falls, my Grandpa Dan agreed to get in the truck while my mom and my Grandma Mary made the 52 mile drive one-way to the hospital from Loma, Montana. My Grandpa was never ill.. He was the healthiest, quick-witted, full-head-of-hair, milk-shake-lover, racer-to-the-dinner table, I knew. Family came from far and wide to wait it out in the Emergency Room that day. After hours of waiting, the doctor reported there was a large mass growing rapidly in my Grandpa’s head that was building significant pressure against his brain. They would have to remove it immediately and he would have to begin treatment. He had brain cancer. They informed us he would have approximately 9 months or longer to live depending on how treatment took.

The morning of surgery, we all took our turns taking photos, crying, and hugging. There was a chance we would never see our Grandpa Dan again. He insisted surgery would be fine and we could all enjoy a milk shake once it was over.

We returned hours later to a groggy, smiling Grandpa Dan. The surgery was a success. They had removed a significant amount of the mass and the remainder would have to be targeted with radiation. After his surgery, he battled his cancer with appointments and treatments daily for weeks in a row. Grandma Mary drove him to and from Great Falls each day so that he could make it to his important treatments. He was very ill and exhausted but his land and farming took precedence over his need to rest. On November 28, 2011, we received positive news that 95% of his brain tumor has receded. We cried happy tears and celebrated with milk shakes.

We were blessed with more time with our Grandpa Dan than we ever expected from his initial diagnosis. Unfortunately, on September 5, 2013, we received news that his brain tumor was back and growing rapidly. He started treatment immediately. Within weeks, he lost his ability to walk and perform daily tasks. He made the tough decision to withdraw from treatments and checked himself into Benton Medical Center with around-the-clock nursing care and hospice capabilities.

During his last days on this earth, we showered him with so much love, milk shakes and foot massages. Friends and family traveled from near and far. We snuck him out of the Benton Medical Center (milk shake in hand) for a day to enjoy a camp fire by the Marias river on his land, roasting marshmallows and sipping on a “cold one.”After a long battle with cancer, Grandpa Dan passed away peacefully on April 29, 2014. He was laid to rest on May 5, 2014 on his farm land.

Witnessing my Grandpa’s cancer diagnosis and journey first-hand and how it affected the rest of the family was life-changing. I understand how financially and physically draining it was, especially for patients in rural areas. My Grandpa was a proud man and would never ask for help. We were blessed to have so many friends, family, and neighbors that would help when he was unwell.

My family traveled from far and wide, almost all of us driving more than 100 miles per day at one point to ensure he was able to make his appointments and receive proper treatment as well as support. There are so many families in rural areas that are traveling too long of distances to reach their healthcare needs. Some opting out entirely because of the stress it puts on themselves and their families. The Great Falls Clinic’s vision for the patient housing facility was and always has been near and dear to my heart. By providing this housing facility for patients and families in need, we are helping so many rural Montana families – just as my Grandpa Dan would have wanted. 

Do you have a story to tell? Do you know someone that has had an experience they would like to share? Please submit your testimonial to Samantha at samantha.shinaberger@gfclinic.com. We would love to share your story and hear from you!

Sweetgrass, MT Patient’s Experience with Cancer

For Marvin, being diagnosed with cancer was stressful enough. Marvin lives close to the Canadian border, in Sweetgrass, Montana which means he needs to travel over two hours to Great Falls for treatment, or over four hours round trip. When asked how traveling has affected his treatment, Marvin shared that it really added to his stress level.

Just when he should be focused on getting treatment and getting better, he and his family had to scramble to arrange for a place to stay and figure out how to pay for it.

Marvin shared, “Luckily for me, the Great Falls Clinic Cancer Care team contacted the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation for help. The Foundation was able to secure a place for me to stay and covered the cost as well.”

“Rural Montana patients and their families will benefit from Legacy Housing. In the future, not having to worry about housing and having a place to stay with family during treatment would be ideal. Any assistance that could be provided towards establishing a housing facility at the Great Falls Clinic would be greatly appreciated.”

Do you have a story to tell? Do you know someone that has had an experience they would like to share? Please submit your testimonial to Samantha at samantha.shinaberger@gfclinic.com. We would love to share your story and hear from you!

Dad’s Journey with Lung Cancer by Deb

My 84-year-old dad had been fighting stage 4 lung cancer for about nine months. He was treated for everything from a cold to a lung fungus before the doctors figured out it was lung cancer. My parents were advised by a very competent, local pulmonologist to go to Seattle – University of Washington to have the lung removed. They made the trip to Seattle and were so happy the doctor was able to give our family hope again. The lung was removed in February 2018.

During my parents’ time in Seattle, they stayed in a renovated dormitory provided by the University. It was a three-story building with no elevator. The occupants provided and cooked their own meals in a community kitchen. Unfortunately, the area where the dormitory was located was not in a walking-friendly area and the closest grocery store was over three miles away. For a man with lung cancer, this was very difficult. The only transportation was by shuttle or rental car to the University which was an extra burden on my elderly parents attempting to arrange and pay for. When my dad was released from his surgery, they had to go back to the dormitory in a taxi. My mom requested a first floor room due to not having an elevator and my dad’s recent surgery but unfortunately none were available and they were placed on the second floor. My dad was three days post-lung removal and he had to climb the stairs sitting on his buttocks because of the intense surgery. When dad was finally released, they had a family member drive them back to Great Falls because they were not allowed to fly. The entire process was very stressful but we were very thankful my dad was alive.

Having accessible, patient-friendly lodging during treatment is so vital. Having this available locally would have a great impact on patients traveling just like our family, for treatment in Great Falls. The new proposed Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing will be conveniently located just yards away from Clinic Cancer Care as well as the Great Falls Clinic Hospital and less than half a mile drive to a grocery store. The facility will also be patient-friendly with a working elevator and ADA approved rooms for patients and their families. Our travels to Seattle were life-saving but the stress caused by our accommodations and travel requirements made my dad’s recovery that much harder.

Please consider giving to this important project today.

Do you have a story to tell? Do you know someone that has had an experience they would like to share? Please submit your testimonial to Samantha at samantha.shinaberger@gfclinic.com. We would love to share your story and hear from you!