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As Montanans, we fit a certain brand. We see ourselves as fiercely independent, trailblazing and nature-loving folks. Perhaps even more importantly, we are well-known for taking care of our own and always lending a helping hand to neighbors and fellow Montanans. I feel it is the benchmark of what makes us such a wonderful state. Yes, I could write a book on the natural beauty that surrounds us, but there is some pretty amazing beauty within too. Helenans and Montanans will give the gas from their tanks and shirts off their back to help someone they barely know simply because it is the right thing to do.

Helena Industries is a living example of why our way of looking after each other is, and always will be, the right way to do things. I had an encounter recently that shows how programs like Helena Industries are making a difference in everyday situations and are not just something that is happening behind the scenes. I was in line to check out at a store and a young man who is blind was taking extra time feeling in his wallet for the correct bills. I have seen this kind fellow around town for years, but he always had an adult with him. This time he was all alone -- no caretaker, no dog. He leaned his red-tipped cane on the counter, and although it took a minute, he was able to find the correct bills that were folded a specific way. This interaction was not lost on the cashier or the other customers in line who waited patiently and couldn't help but smile when he received his change and headed for the door.

Giving time and money to help disabled adults may at first glance not seem like an immediate priority when our state is faced with so many needs. However, caring for those who cannot care for themselves is not only the ethical thing to do, it fuels our economy and our way of life by allowing these adults to work, pay taxes, support themselves and enjoy life -- in short, the Montana way of doing things. Helena Industries is a wonderful example of Montanans looking out for each other. Helping adults with disabilities be independent, contributing members of our community could never be a bad thing. We need to keep Helena Industries’ doors open with funding because it is truly the "Montana way" in action.

Teresa Gonzales

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East Helena

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