BILLINGSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; MOST READ MAGAZINE | MAY/JUNE 2020
bby inthorne H
CREATES A LIFE WITH HARD WORK & LOVE
THE HEALING POWER OF SALT & SWEAT
GARDEN AVENUE GREENHOUSE
SERVING THE COMMUNITY FOR OVER 100 YEARS
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Virtual Care Keeping you safe at home, 7 days a week As we practice social distancing, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important that we give you options for care from the comfort of your home. We are learning with you, developing and continuously working to improve the online experience.
We care where you are.
Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re excited to introduce Virtual Care for minor medical issues, staffed by our providers via Skype. Virtual Care is a same-day option for some ailments that do not require a physical exam. You can make an appointment via Billings Clinic HealthLine 7day/week from 8 am - 8 pm at 406-255-8400 or 1-800-252-1246. Learn more about Virtual Care at billingsclinic.com/virtualcare.
If you believe you have been exposed and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough and/or shortness of breath), please call (406) 255-8400 for instructions.
We are Forever Thankful to the everyday heroes in our communities who are keeping us Safer at Home.
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PUBLISHER & EDITOR JULIE KOERBER firstname.lastname@example.org COPY EDITOR ED KEMMICK
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CONTACT Yellowstone Valley Woman PO Box 23204 Billings, MT 59104 Phone: 406-254-1394 www.yellowstonevalleywoman.com
ON THE COVER Clothing provided by Cricket
Photography by Daniel Sullivan
Â©2020 Media I Sixteen All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
In our March/April issue, we incorrectly identified Annita Lucchesi as Northern Cheyenne. She is of Cheyenne descent. We apologize for the error.
When the coronavirus hit, my anxiety, like most everyone else’s, went through the roof. What would YVW do? What would advertisers do? Should my story rundown change? How could we tell the story of the community and honor those in the midst of all of this? The questions played on never-ending repeat.
The third version had Sharpie marks all over it, with all of the story ideas submitted by our team of writers and readers like you. While I love moms (being one myself), I threw the theme out the window and decided to just do what we do best — tell stories. From small acts with big inspiration to the charming art of beekeeping, from the hard work going on to provide locally grown food to the story of an enterprising woman who invented a new way for seniors to exercise. It’s a kaleidoscopic portrait of community that is beautiful.
What happened next proved to me that this magazine is important to those in our community. Not only did 95 percent of our contract advertisers stick with us, a few upsized their ads to support our publication. Since we are 100 percent funded by our advertisers, it was humbling, to say the least. These businesses supporting us were facing an uncertain future as well. That meant more to me as a business owner, and words will never be able to fully convey my gratitude. In early April, we put out a call on our Facebook page for folks to submit photos showing how the coronavirus, while it might keep us inside, couldn’t keep our community down. We received more than a dozen photos that still evoke emotion when I look at them. I see a community coming together, using their skills and their hands to serve perfect strangers. I see the incredible sacrifice of healthcare workers. I see light in the darkness. I encourage you to spend some time on pages 10 through 13 and to study these snapshots in time. They show the beauty of Billings and the people who make it so dynamic.
As this pandemic continues to affect our lives, please find and follow us on Facebook. Since some of our distribution points have been cut off, that page is where we will be updating you on new efforts to make sure our magazine gets into as many hands as possible. If you visit www.yellowstonevalleywoman.com, you can also read our issue cover to cover online. These stories are too good not to share and we’re proud not only of the writers who wrote them but the team that gave them life through amazing photography and design. Enjoy the issue and, above all, stay well!
As I look at my desk, there are three different versions of our May/ June issue. It started as one that paid homage to moms. The second version had features with unique twists on motherhood. They are good stories that we will, one day, tell.
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dedication selflessness Thank you to all healthcare workers for your heroism. compassion sacrifice St. Vincent salutes all healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic for everything they do to save lives and protect our communities. We thank our caregivers and associates for their extra hours. Their sacrifices. Their teamwork. Their commitment to care. Their compassion. And most of all, their willingness to do it all over again tomorrow.
May/June 2020 On the Cover
THE LONG ROAD HOME
Abby Hinthorne Creates a Life with Hard Work and Love
SMALL ACTS = BIG INSPIRATION
A SIGN FOR THE TIMES
Why the Corona Virus Can't Keep a Community Down
Grassroots Effort Shares Billings Strong Message
A Mountain of Grief Turns into a Beacon of Hope
20 MY FIGHT
Billings Couple Gives an Income and Hope to Women
DELIVER A LITTLE LOVE
BALANCE AND HARMONY
Ways to Pamper the Women in our Lives
Onyx Wellness Brings Healing with Salt & Sweat
38 SPRINGING INTO FITNESS
Kelsie Hansen Helps Seniors "Stick" Their Fitness Goals
FROM BILLINGS TO FLAPPER FANNY
GROWING SUCCESS FOR NEARLY 100 YEARS
The Life of Ethel Hays
Inside Garden Avenue Greenhouse
50 HONEY OF A HOBBY
Billings Women Learn the Sweetest Lessons with Beekeeping
56 YELLOWSTONE VALLEY FOOD HUB
Benefits of Local Food Suddenly Come into Focus
Ann Jackson Brings Touches of Personality and Design Perfection
IN EVERY ISSUE 24
KAREN GROSZ: Saying Goodbye
TASTE OF THE VALLEY: Indulgence in a Jar
NUTRITION: Do I Need a Dietary Supplement?
LOOK WHAT WE FOUND: No Green Thumb Required
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BIG INSPIRATION INSPIRATION BIG WHY THE CORONA VIRUS CAN’T KEEP A COMMUNITY DOWN When COVID-19 forced the closure of businesses and initiated stay-at-home orders city-wide last March, what we discovered is that you can’t lock down kindness or the ability to touch the lives of others. Thanks to photos submitted to YVW, here’s a look at just a tiny sliver of what our community did in the face of uncertainty and crisis.
When Billings neurosurgeon Dusty Richardson partnered with dentist Spencer Zaugg and his son, Colton, to come up with a pattern for protective 3D masks for healthcare workers, Adam Steadman was just one of the volunteers who answered the call. Knowing each $23 roll of plastic filament could create up to 17 masks, he put out a call for help and received enough donations to create more than 2,000 masks. One person gifted him with two 3D printers and all three printers have been running non-stop since. Adam says his contribution is a small drop in a very big bucket. “I am so often overcome by the faithfulness of the medical workers, the determination of our maker community and the generosity of every person who is supporting us, that I find myself choking back tears,” Adam says. When he crafted his 222nd mask, the Billings Clinic said they had enough, so Adam moved on to create masks for others in need.
Terri Gleason, a fourth-grade teacher at Big Sky Elementary, found out quickly how a laundry room can double as a classroom. Using the digital learning tool Seesaw, she’s kept in touch with her students and partnered with parents. “In a sense, the distancing has actually brought us closer,” Terri says. “We’re realizing we can overcome obstacles together.” 10
Stay-at-home orders changed the face of faith in our community. For the Harris family, that meant cueing up the Catholic Mass online. While the family of five misses their fellowship at both Mary Queen of Peace and St. Thomas parishes, Mallory Harris says with every challenge comes a benefit. “If there is anything our family will take out of this, it is an appreciation for our church community and a goal to spend more quiet time together in prayer,” she says.
When the family of Toby Stutts realized he wouldn’t have a 13th birthday party because of social distancing, they organized a surprise parade with more than a half dozen decked-out vehicles rolling through his neighborhood. As his mom, Carolyn, says, “Great friends and neighbors don't let birthdays get canceled!” Pictured (left), Toby Stutts, (center) neighbors Patricia and Rod Davidson.
After seeing a Boston photographer’s project to capture photos of families on their front porches and still keep the right distance, photographer Amber Breuker used the concept in Billings to spread a little happiness. Instead of payment, she asked families to donate to their favorite charity. “Spending time with all of these families made my heart swell,” Amber says. “Honestly, during this time of uncertainty, there is nothing more satisfying than giving back to our own community.” Pictured are Carla and Aaron Larkin and their two daughters.
From hearts to inspirational messages, decorated windows have become a kind of billboard of hope. Billings artist Suzzee Toon wanted something bold to lift the spirits of those passing by. She put up a massive blue heart to represent tranquility with the message, “Together alone” on her and her husband’s home on Fairway Drive.
Unable to see their “bonus grandpa” Jim Bertrand, Peyton and Kayden Mavencamp blow kisses outside his window to let him know they miss him.
Behind a sea of fabric and thousands of feet of elastic, you could almost hear the hum of sewing machines at work to create homemade fabric masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Tori Taylor, a healthcare worker and mastermind behind the Facebook group Masked Crusaders of B-Town, watched as thousands have been delivered to assisted-living facilities, hospitals and surgery centers. Desta Fix finetuned the pattern to make sure it was what the medical industry needed and the 700-plus community of sewers responded. The Facebook page’s administrator, Jennifer Reis says, “I think people feel stronger when they can lend their strength to someone else.” 12
As a U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran, Mike Wyrwas has always had the utmost respect for our flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and the song “God Bless America.” Knowing the children in his neighborhood who were now schooling at home would miss their Monday recitation of the Pledge, he invited them to the flagpole in front of his house to help them start their week off right.
FACES on the
A LOOK AT JUST SOME OF OUR HEALTHCARE HEROES
Since the novel coronavirus first surfaced, nurses and doctors working to heal our community quickly rose to an even higher hero status. We asked a few to share what life has been like with their own words and self-portraits.
“It is pretty awesome coming off a hard day in the ICU and hearing your community cheering you on. It gives you a little more hope. It gives me goosebumps.” — Kyra Eastwood
Stephanie Kanning, Emergency Department RN (center) pictured with (left) Devaney Healy, patient care technician and (right) Lela Tillotson, Emergency Department RN. All with the Billings Clinic.
“My husband is living and working in Wyoming and not allowed to come home until this is all over, so the kids and I haven’t seen him in over a month. I’ve never had anxiety like this, but I got on medication and I think it is helping. Each COVID patient I take care of gets me used to the idea, I suppose. My little brother is helping watch the kiddos on the weekends, so I can help my team in the ER. We all have a reason to not want to work on the frontline and expose our families, but we show up for our team and our community.” — Stephanie Kanning
“At the end of the day I try my best to decontaminate before leaving the hospital, for fear of bringing potentially lethal germs to my family of five. I no longer walk through the front door to be greeted by Dr. Erin Rains, Pulmonologist, hugs, kisses and giddy Billings Clinic ICU excitement. Instead, I walk to the back of my house, enter through a seldom used door where I immediately shower (for the second time) before rejoining my family. By then the excitement of mom pulling in the driveway has died down, but these days the hugs and kisses seem to mean even more.”
Kyra Eastwood, RN, St. Vincent Healthcare ICU (right), says of the nightly howls for medical workers. Pictured with Melissa Fink, RN (center) and Candice Davis, RN (right).
Michelle Molina, St. Vincent Healthcare Emergency Room RN (left) pictured with Rebecca Lee RN.
Joanna Frank, Billings Clinic Intensive Care Unit RN
“It’s always been a privilege to take care of the sickest patients. Now it feels a bit riskier but it is still such a privilege.”
“I never thought I would be wearing a full facial barricade for 12 hours a day, but all the gear donated such as homemade surgical caps, headbands with buttons to pull mask strings away from our ears, and comfort fitting goggles have saved the day! It really is the little things that get you through the chaos.” — Michelle Molina
“I had a patient that was stable but took a quick turn. I had to call his son and have him say goodbye over the phone. It broke my heart and brought me to tears, listening Chrissy Mayhood, Billings to him saying Clinic Intensive Care Unit RN goodbye. I told the son that I would be with his dad while he passed and would not let him be alone. It was all that I could offer to bring some peace to the situation. It is a blessing to be available at a time like this but so heartbreaking.” MAY/JUNE 2020
A SIGN for the
TIMES GRASSROOTS EFFORT SHARES THE BILLINGS STRONG MESSAGE written by JULIE KOERBER photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
Planted firmly in front of the Wendy’s restaurant at 10th Street West and Grand Avenue sits a white sign showing the outline of Montana and the words “Billings Strong.” The yard sign might be simple in design but its purpose is powerful, and at least a few Billings residents hope the message of “Billings Strong” pops up all over the city.
business consultant, jumped on board to help with the transaction piece of the campaign. Production will roll out in batches to keep the cost down and the proceeds as high as possible.
“I saw a picture of a sign in Butte that was being put up around the city,” says Jonna Jones, one of the masterminds behind the campaign. She sent the photo to friend Dan Carter and from there, she says, “We both thought it was something we could easily make work in Billings to help build a sense of community pride and spirit.”
“I love Billings for a lot of reasons,” Dan says. “I like the diversity of the economy, the can-do spirit of many people who have their roots in Eastern Montana and the high plains, and the resilience of all who have businesses here. We all know Billings is a good place to work, raise our families and have fun. Sometimes, we just have a hard time showing that we truly are Billings Strong.”
The mission would be to spark a wave of community pride that could be used to give back to the city’s most vulnerable.
The duo doesn’t really have a fundraising goal. They’ll be happy with any amount of money this campaign is able to raise, saying that during times like these, every little bit helps. They also hope the community pride continues to build, long after the coronavirus and its impact fade.
“There are a lot of needs in the community and those needs will be exacerbated once the COVID-19 pandemic fades into our memories,” Dan says. “We are both lucky to work for companies that are committed to making our community a better place, and we do what we can to get things done.” Jonna works as the director of marketing for Wentana, the company behind our local Wendy’s restaurants. Dan works in the government and public affairs department at the ExxonMobil Billings Refinery. “We both have limited funding, but as a community, we believe a portion of funds from these signs will help nonprofits such as Tumbleweed, Big Brothers Big Sisters, NAMI and others who help populations at risk,” Dan says.
It’s a grassroots effort that both Jonna and Dan hope resonates with people.
“Neighborhood by neighborhood, we hope this instills a longterm sense of community pride,” Jonna says. “There are many people right now who are wondering when they can re-open their business or if their job will still be there once May and June rolls around. But if we can show solidarity and support to hang in there — no matter what —we will truly be Billings Strong.”
TO LEARN MORE about this campaign or to order your Billings Strong sign, visit billingsstrong.com for more.
As the idea blossomed, Ultra Graphics moved on in to help handle the printing of each sign. They also helped launch the website www. billingsstrong.com to help sell the signs. Leif Wellhaven, a Billings MAY/JUNE 2020
A MOUNTAIN OF GRIEF TURNS INTO A BEACON OF HOPE FOR THOSE IN NEED written by JULIE KOERBER photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
By all accounts, 52-year-old Rita Beck was a dynamo, a woman who worked fast, loved big and rolled up her sleeves to get the tough jobs done.
“She started this business that gave back, and yet it allowed her to function because the grief inside her was so deep,” Teresa says. “This was her avenue to do that.”
“She was, spirited, very spirited,” her sister Teresa O’Neill says. “When she was in the room, she lit up the room.”
The cracks of grief started in 2006 when Rita and Doug Beck’s son Jake suddenly died in a freak accident when he and a friend went to get gasoline to fill the tanks on their jet skis.
Her careers showed a woman who led with passion. For 15 years, she worked at the alternative school in Great Falls, helping teen parents navigate life. She always chose professions aimed at helping others and, after making the move to Billings, she created Discreet Solutions in 2012 with the hope of giving elderly and underserved Montanans affordable access to incontinence supplies.
“It was a 90-degree day,” Teresa says. “The fire marshal believes something ignited fumes coming from the plastic gas cans at the back of the station wagon and that ignited the whole car on fire.” Teresa says Jake drove off to the side of the road and he and his friend struggled to get out of the burning car. They managed to get down a steep embankment before submerging themselves in nearby Swan Lake.
“The other guy survived with horrific burns all over his body,” Doug says. “Jake didn’t have the strength after all of that, and so he drowned.” Jake was just 19. Teresa says her sister carried a lot of guilt over the tragedy. “Rita said, ‘Why didn’t I teach him not to carry a gas can in the back of his car?’” In 2015, Doug and Rita would be tested again, this time with their son Kyle, who for more than a decade battled severe mental illness. “Kyle started to show signs of schizophrenia not that long after Jake died,” Doug says. “Rita was very much a mama bear, trying to do anything she could to take care of her son who was injured while having lost another,” Teresa adds. As Doug talks about his son, who battled mental illness for close to a decade, he shares how Kyle got his big heart from Rita. “Kyle would invite homeless people up to his apartment to sleep when it was super cold outside,” Doug says. On June 30, 2015, while in a psychotic state, Kyle took his own life. “I say we lost him to schizophrenia because it often ends in suicide,” Teresa says. “Doug and Rita’s lives were forever changed with the loss of both of their sons.” Teresa is often reminded of one of her little sister’s favorite quotes. “It is a Mother Teresa quote: ‘I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.’ That was her.”
For nearly six years, Rita poured herself into her work expanding Discreet Solutions. In the back of Rita’s mind, she hoped the company could provide a future for Kyle. It started in the family’s home before moving downtown. They outgrew that space, moving to a larger office on the far West End. Doug says the connection with her customers was important to Rita. When they hired delivery people, she spelled it out that if a client needed someone to talk with, to make the time. “She said, ‘We will get all the deliveries done but if there is a person that is wanting you to sit down and visit, sit down and talk to them. She was big on that,” Doug says. There were times when Teresa went along on some of those deliveries. “We would walk in and we were the only people they saw sometimes,” Doug says. “I always thought, ‘Wow, I wish I was that giving of a person to put aside my own pain and just want to engage.’ She was someone who helped people who couldn’t help themselves. She lived that.” Rita and Doug often sought refuge at their family cabin near White Sulphur Springs. It was a family escape where the family hunted, fished and made the trek to nearby Showdown Montana to ski in the Little Belt Mountains. It was that space that opened the family’s next chapter of grief. “She and Doug were away for one of their weekends,” Teresa says. “She had an accident and unfortunately fell down the stairs and was killed, just like that.” Rita died on Sept. 23, 2018. While Doug takes comfort in the thought MAY/JUNE 2020
of her being reunited with their boys, it doesn’t mean he understands the “why.” On his desk sit the scribbled words he has come to hold dear. They read: “To live the life that lies before you, you have to let go of the life that you had planned.” Since that day, Doug and Teresa knew they needed to do something to remember the three precious lives taken too soon. In February of 2019, they started the Rita, Jake and Kyle Beck Fund with the Montana Community Foundation. Friends and family have funneled donations into the fund and to date, four local charities have benefited.
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Donations have been given to the Young Parents Education Center, where Rita worked in Great Falls, the Billings chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness, to honor Kyle, and Eaglemount, which provides access to year-round recreation for the disabled, including skiing, which was Jake’s passion. The latest donation went to Loving Home Foundation and Bitteroot Babies (see sidebar story), a nonprofit designed to help parents in need. In time, Doug hopes to do some outreach for not only fundraising but grant applications as well. “It is something that all three of them would have wanted,” Doug says. “It gives back to the organizations that need the money most.” And, Teresa says, it helps shine the light on her baby sister and the nephews she misses immensely. “This fund keeps their memories alive,” Teresa says. “It’s a way for us to say, these people mattered.” ✻
TO DONATE TO THE RITA, JAKE AND KYLE BECK FUND, visit their Montana Community Foundation page at www.mtcf. org/Beck-Fund.
BITTERROOT BABIES FOR MOMS, BY MOMS
photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN As a mom of three kids ranging in age from 7 months to 6 years, 37-year-old Chantelle Biscoe longed for a space in Billings that brought families together. She imagined a loving and non-judgmental organization that provided material needs, offered classes and doled out clothing and baby items to anyone who needed them. Shelves would be stocked completely by donations. “It was exactly the direction that we wanted to go and this place kind of just fell in our lap,” Chantelle says. Bitterroot Babies opened up on Jan. 15, after nearly seven months of renovations to their new space at 2706 Second Ave. N. The space offers a boutique-style clothing area, two play areas and a space where classes can be held. Chantelle also helps refer parents to diaper and formula programs to make sure those needs are met as well. The boutique is easily converted to a rentable space for baby showers or birthday parties to help support the nonprofit financially. “I think our biggest thing is that anyone can come in,” Chantelle says. “There are no applications because we figure that people have enough of that.” While COVID-19 shuttered the storefront starting in mid-March, at print time Chantelle couldn’t wait to staff the space three days a week to build on what Bitterroot Babies began. She adds that a grant from the Beck Fund will help the fledgling nonprofit keep the lights on while it is closed.
children’s activities while parents have a date night without their kids. To date, Bitterroot Babies has helped roughly 50 families and already, a few of those families have made their mark on Chantelle’s heart. She said just before they were forced to close, one couple walked to the storefront from their South Side apartment seeking help for their brand-new baby. “They were able to come in and get what they needed,” Chantelle says. “The mom was in the rocking chair nursing her baby. It was just one of those moments. I was just so thankful that Bitterroot Babies was there to help them. I thought, this is why we do what we do.”
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BITTERROOT BABIES and the services they provide, you can visit their Facebook page or call (406) 8618060.
Books for k-5 & Middle Grade readers
Chantelle is partnering with Jenny Dow of Aspens Ministries to lead life skills classes. She’d like to add post-partum support, along with nutrition and cooking classes. She hopes for play dates where moms and tots can gather. And, in time, Chantelle hopes to host a parents’ night out to provide
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BILLINGS COUPLE GIVES AN INCOME AND HOPE TO WOMEN IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES written by SUE OLP photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
They say one good deed deserves another, but in the case of Dave and Jen Ulrichs, one good deed spurred a second. For the Billings couple, a decision to adopt a child from Ethiopia 10 years ago eventually led them to start a business to empower some of the East African country’s poorest residents to help themselves. It was the birth of a business known as MyFight. MyFight’s mission is to “create a women’s marketplace that connects fashion-conscious consumers with poverty embattled artisans through exotic, fashionable, quality and handmade products.” The business model has broadened from selling items online to individual consumers to marketing items wholesale to retail outlets. “If we really want to create sustainability, volume is key,” Dave says. “So, we’re trying to sell wholesale.” 20
For the couple, MyFight is a ministry. Jen, 51, and Dave, 52, are not paid for their efforts. To earn a living, Dave is a CPA with GTUIT, an oil and gas service company, and Jen works part-time as a pharmacist at St. Vincent Healthcare. Faith informs every aspect of their life. In fact, the pair met at a campus ministry gathering while students at the University of Montana. “We started dating in 1988, the year of the fires,” Jen says. They married in September 1991, moved to Boise and then Connecticut before relocating to Billings, Jen’s hometown, to raise a family. The couple has four children, Hannah, 25, married with one child; Evan, 22, and Emma, 18, both students at Montana State University; and AJ, 16, a sophomore at Billings Central Catholic High School.
It is with AJ that Jen and Dave first connected with Ethiopia. Back in 2010, the pair was among 11 families, all members of Harvest Church in Billings, who decided to adopt orphans from the country. The church had begun to focus on adoption in Ethiopia, as well as doing humanitarian aid projects in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. Dave, who was employed at Harvest for seven years starting in 2010, worked initially as the resource officer overseeing finances, facilities and human resources before becoming the director of global outreach. For Jen, at the time a mother of three, the decision to adopt came gradually as she realized she wanted to add another child to the family. “We saw a gap in our own family and said ‘Yeah, we really want a fourth child.’” She remembers when she and Dave first got the referral for 5-year-old AJ, she was driving across the Rims. “I called Dave and asked, ‘Did you see they gave us a referral?’ I started crying, looking at AJ’s little face,” Jen says. “It was very emotional, very special when we got that photo,” Dave says. The couple traveled to Ethiopia in January 2010 to pick up their son, then 6. “They taught him some English words,” Jen says, but at first “there was a lot of gesturing.” Oldest daughter Hannah came along on the trip and, Dave says, “to this day, she and AJ have a special connection.” He called the trip to Addis Ababa “a trip of discovery” in another way. “When you see urban poverty in a Third World country, it’s really unsettling,” he says. Thanks to their driver, Jen and Dave visited Korah, a large slum on the edge of the capital city that sits near a mammoth landfill. The poorest of the poor live there, Dave says, and getting a close-up view deeply moved the couple. In 2011, Dave returned to Ethiopia with two others from Harvest, and they visited Entoto Beth Artisans, a workshop at Entoto, also on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, another area of extreme poverty. There, HIV positive women make jewelry at a workshop as a means of supporting their families. The women at the shop repurpose shell casings scavenged from battlefields, turning them into copper and brass beads they made into jewelry. “In these women, I saw laughter, hope, they had community in a healthy environment,” Dave says. “It gave these women who were hardworking, capable and reliable access to jobs.” That started Dave and Jen on a journey of creating sustainable employment for these women. Earning a living, not getting a handout, appealed to Dave, a businessman. When he returned home, he put together a business plan and then got MAY/JUNE 2020
the OK from Harvest’s church council to develop the for-profit enterprise. Several others came on board as investors. “They understood this isn’t just a business, it has multiple impacts: financial, social and spiritual,” Dave says. Dave and Jen began to work with Jesse Murphy, founder of MyFight, a ministry that, with donations and profits it earned from selling T-shirts, offered, micro-loans to Third World entrepreneurs.
“Jesse was having a hard time with sustainability, plus there are a lot of micro-finance organizations out there, so we started talking,” Dave says.
and buy their products.”
Moringa Tree LLC launched in 2016, with Dave as the CEO. The idea was to introduce talented but impoverished artisans in Ethiopia to markets in the Western sphere.
Jesse left in 2017 when marriage took him out of state. Over time, MyFight expanded the number of workshops it collaborates with, including some from India.
The two organizations merged, with MyFight adopted as the name most identified with the organization. At first, the idea was for the new company to create a workshop of its own in Ethiopia and hire artisans. But with workshops already in place, Jen says, that seemed redundant.
“We’re in direct contact with these workshops,” Jen says. “It’s not nebulous. We’ve been to their workshops, we know them.”
MyFight could serve another function.
At one point, Dave told a board member about his feelings of selfdoubt.
“Entoto has a website, but you can’t buy items online,” she says. “We could create a website, so people could go online in the States
The venture has been a leap of faith for the Ulrichs and the other backers, Jen says, with more losses than profit.
“He said, ‘You don’t get to quit. We are with you and for you, and
you keep going,’” Dave remembers. “So, we keep going.” Toward that end, MyFight eventually shifted solely from online sales to selling wholesale. Thanks to a trade show in Las Vegas, Jen and Dave connected with a sales rep with a network of national retail chains. That has spurred a demand for more of the products, which Dave calls “wonderful and terrifying.” “The key is not to create profit, but to move product so more production is needed,” he says. “Selling is getting better and I’m expecting us to have the best sales year yet.”
He’s the first athlete in the family. Growing up, his older siblings leaned more toward acting and musical activities. “It’s been fun to dive into the travel team world for basketball and football,” she says. Whether a baby comes through birth or adoption, she says, “God gives you a special person to grow with and we feel very blessed to have AJ. We just feel like we won the lottery with that kid.” ✻
They have also hired Amanda Flann, full-time director of sales and marketing, a godsend, Dave says, who will be able to devote her time to expanding the business.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MYFIGHT, or to
MyFight helps sustain jobs for more than 1,000 women, and the hope is that Flann will help that number grow. But, Dave says, its focus will always remain the same.
shop their goods, visit myfight.org.
“The thing we are all motivated by is not the jewelry, not the stores,” he says. “It’s these women — we can make a big difference in their lives, help them raise their kids, pay their rent.” And back to that first good deed, the one that led to multiplied blessings for these women: Jen says AJ is “doing great.” “He’s the greatest kid, ever, just so fun to be with and he’s very social,” she says. “He lights up a room just by walking into it. He’s got a million-dollar smile and is funny and witty and charming.”
SUE OLP, writer Sue Olp worked for many years as a reporter at the Billings Gazette, covering everything from health care to education, county government, religion and tribal issues, not to mention annual spelling bees, downtown festivals and lots of human-interest stories. Now retired, she is a freelance writer, serves as a first-reader for Deep Magic, an online fantasy magazine, and enjoys gardening, reading and spending time with her family, including her three grandchildren.
aying6 S Goodbye
written by KAREN GROSZ
Sometime in the next few days, as I write this, my mom will take her last breath. I am sitting in the room with her waiting for that to happen, and it is not — and I am okay admitting this — my shining moment. I am not the caregiver of the family, I am not the caresser, the cuddler, the let-me-clipyour-nails child. I thought I would be. I wanted to be a nurse, but good grief and glory, I would have left a trail of dead patients in my wake, had I pursued that career. I am a problem solver, the cheer-you-on, finda- b e t t e r-w ay-t o - d o -i t , collaborating-is-betterthan-competing person. So, I hold her hand, for just long enough, and I make nice with the caregivers, because if they are on our side everything will be better, and I watch. I watch her breathe, I watch her wince, I watch her as if she were my precious baby, her every move and moan a sign I must decipher and respond to. And I watch the staff care for her, and, sadly, ignore her.
KAREN GROSZ 24
I have railed against the system for a few months now. There have been errors, omissions and mistakes that have led us to today, this painful waiting for death, and in trying to make my peace with it, I have tried to figure out how to make it easier — easier on the patient, easier for the staff, easier for the family. So, while parts of this issue are designed to celebrate moms, those glorious creatures who gave us life, and at least once (and maybe a dozen times if you participated in precocious antics as I did) threatened to knock us into next week or give us something to cry about, I am going to give you insights for when it is time to say goodbye.
IT WON’T BE EASY.
It won’t be beautiful. It won’t be fun, scripted, or full of joy. There will be tears and long hours of frustration from all of the things you don’t know. I tell you this because it seems that society wants to put a bow around the end of life with lots of sentiment and little reality. It’s not pretty, so be gentle with yourself. I leave the room when they move her and
when I just don’t want to see what is going on. It’s OK to escape, just don’t miss the beauty.
IT WILL BE BEAUTIFUL. I leave home well before 6 a.m. so I
mily in tana’s 14tha.org
Chase ember Finals ntana. morial uring
can be holding her hand when she first opens her eyes. She smiles. We are quiet. It makes me cry to think of these quiet moments. Had I been in her room like this 10 years ago, it would have been creepy, and she would have sent me away as she did when I was 4 years old and being a pest. It will also be beautiful when you see a Beauty & the toBea sibling lean in to whisper sweet nothings, feedst her, to look her in Studio presents “Disney’s Beauty andpastoral the Beast theBillings eyes. The sameTheatre is true of caregivers, friends, and the Junior,” 10th-13th. and beautiful Belle yearns to escape care team. January When you sit backBrainy and watch, every beautiful moment narrow and restricted life including brute of a suitor, Gaston. willher reward you tenfold for every one thather is hell. Belle gets adventurous and as a result becomes a captive in the Beast’s
enchanted castle! QUESTIONS. Dancing flatware,Say menacing and singing ASK THE HARD the hardwolves words. It took
furniture fillinformation-filled, the stage with thrills during this beloved fairy tale about days, painful, tear-filled days, to be ready to ask verywas different findingShe strength in one as they learn how if she readypeople for hospice. already hadanother a do-not-resuscitate to love.b i l l i would n g s s tube d iao new t h e apath t r e .ctoo the m end. We gave her space to order, but this think about it, laid out the facts she needed. What we dreaded the most turned out to be aFRinge relief, a gift,FestivaL a promise for hope. Mom took about 2.3 minutes to say yes to hospice, to waking up 18th-19th in heaven.and Venture Theatre presents its Fringe Festival, January She25th-26th.The never wavered, even when someone she loved begged her to festival features four nights of shows featuring local rescind the decision. She chose she said the standup hard and regional performing artists her of allpath typesand including dance, words to friends and family:one “I’ve We also saidart, comedy, theater improv, actmade plays,a decision.” musicals, performance word/poetry, andI puppetry.v n t uwith r e t h spinning e a t r e .o r tires g ourspoken apologies. Apparently, am bossy,eand and a handsome boyfriend, put her through some undeserved teenage souL stReet danCe drama. wasenergy hard to saycomes “I’m sorry” the last but it a This It high show to the for Alberta Bairtime Theater onwas January relief. what needsatonew be said. is keeping youthe awake 19thSay and presents era inWhatever dance, while pushing artistic at night, say it.of street dance. Soul Street concerts consist of a mix of boundaries movement that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The music is
Let people help. Even if it is something that does not need to be done, let them do it. Your mom meant the world not just to you, but to her neighbors, her workmates, the crazy aunt that always brings the Jell-O mold to the party. There are also people that love you. Let them. Let all of these people hold your hand, bring you a dinner you won’t eat, mow the grass, wipe your mom’s brow. These acts are about more than the act, they are the quiet gifts from the angels. Accept them, and when it is your turn, and someone else is about to lose their mom, you can quietly give a gift to them, of time, or care, or duty. I thought I knew my mom, but I didn’t. Not until I sat in this room and watched the world swirl around her, and you will probably find the same. My mom, I discovered yesterday, drank Wild Turkey with her good friend and Southwest Airlines founder Herb Keller. She also so touched the hospice pastor that he made a CD of hymns, singing “I’ve Got the Joy” just for her. He cried as we listened together. He met her once. I did not always honor my mom or even like her, truth be told. Mothers and daughters can be like that, but in stopping my life to help her die, I found the best of both of us, and that is an incredibly beautiful gift. It’s the kind of gift you can only give if you’re a mom, or receive if you open your heart to her. ✻
Editor’s Note: Karen’s mom, Mary, died on March 13 with Karen and those she loved by her side. We send all the blessings possible to her and her family at this time.
LETcombined PEOPLE WORK. When are saying goodbyetoto classical. your with an electric mixyou ranging from hip-hop
mom, yourthat person, especially if youand arekeep in aaudiences hospital or care It’s aorshow will make you laugh of all ages center, get out of the way. While you are living your story, and entertained. you want the world to stop and honor that fact, other people are trying to work. They are trying to read the tests, wash the wounds a ConCe Rt FoR the whoLe FamiLy and change the sheets. Let them. Assign one person to be the Billings Symphony presents its Family Concert on January 26th at the information portal, handle the decisions. The staff does not need Alberta Bair Theater. Four time Grammy nominees, “Trout Fishing to give a play-by-play 84 times for one patient. The best decision in America,” will perform along with the Billings Symphony. Trout we’ve made for our parents is to assign one sibling as the decisionFishing in America is a musical duo which performs folk rock and maker and never to question their decisions. Happily, it wasn’t me, children’s music. b i l l i n g s s y m p h o n y.c o m as I am bossy and told others to take the task. They would say it was the fact that I am not the caregiver, but they are wrong.
KAREN GROSZ, writer Growing up in the shadow of Mount Rushmore gave Karen Grosz an appreciation of high ideals. Living in Alaska, for 25 years, gave her a frontier spirit, and life in Montana finds her building community and laughing at life. She’s a self-described “multipotentialite” who has been a sales leader, studio owner and business coach. She is currently the owner of Canvas Creek Team Building and serves on the boards of 100 Strong, Boys and Girls Club, and is a RYLA Director.
Changes, ideas, wondering what to do now? Discover your Next in these pages
amazon.com “I’m not stuck anymore. Thank you.” —Jessica
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DECEMBER 2012/JANUARY 2013
63 MAY/JUNE 2020
ABBY HINTHORNE CREATES A LIFE WITH HARD WORK AND LOVE AT THE CENTER written by CYDNEY HOEFLE photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
During her senior year of college, Abby Hinthorne had an assignment to depict her life in art. When it was her turn, the lights dimmed and a recording of her home church singing hymns in German began. A spotlight illuminated a figure in the center of the stage. The light began at the base of the figure, inching up slowly, showing the floor-length cotton skirt, modest long-sleeve blouse covered with a cotton apron, then stopping on the head of the faceless mannequin. As the music faded, Abby stepped out from behind the mannequin and began telling her story, the life of a young Hutterite woman. It was a story none of her fellow classmates had heard before. Abby was raised on the Ayers Hutterite Colony near Grass Range, Montana. Her father was the colony’s manager. She was the ninth of 10 children and, with her siblings, attended a one-room school through the eighth grade. As a member of the colony, all her needs were provided: food, shelter, clothing and education. But, as a young teen, Abby yearned for more. “I had it in my mind that I wanted to get away,” she says, “I wanted 26
the freedom.” She received her GED, a high school equivalency certificate, in nearby Lewistown and worked for several years, saving money, as a nanny. By the time she was 23, she felt ready. “I remember telling my mom, I just want to move to Billings and wear jeans!” Leaving the colony isn’t easy. “There is no financial assistance to help you succeed,” Abby says. “But there was no way I was going to allow myself to fail and return.” Though her parents supported her decision, it was hard for many members of the colony to come to grips with her choice. She left with the clothes on her back and some cast-off clothing from the woman she’d worked for as a nanny. “It wasn’t much,” Abby says, “but then I had no sense of fashion anyway!” She moved in with a friend that the woman knew and started her life in Billings. “The entire world was foreign to me,” she says. “It was complete culture shock. I remember laying in my bed that first night, hearing
cars and sirens. It was so noisy. All I could think was, will I survive?” Abby did more than survive. She made friends, joined a church, bought a car and put herself though college. And she wore jeans. She maintained a close relationship with her parents until their deaths and, to this day, still visits relatives and friends at the colony. “Mom was always there for me,” she says. “She was such a nurturer and cared so deeply. She was a very spiritual person and always connected with others. She was kind and wise and she loved people well.” Her father never quite understood Abby’s desire for independence. When Abby graduated, her parents attended the ceremony. Sitting with them was Abby’s future husband, Tom Hinthorne. As the graduating seniors came into the auditorium, her father asked Tom, “So this is a really big deal?” Tom answered “Yes, it is.” To which her father said proudly, “And she did it all on her own.” “He didn’t understand me,” she says, “but I think he admired me.”
By the end of 2000, Abby had married Tom. They had plans for a family and dreams of a flourishing catering business. But across town, in a world removed from the Hinthornes, a baby had been born who would one day have a profound impact on their lives. A young, unwed teenage mother was halfway through her pregnancy when an ultrasound revealed that her baby would be born with severe birth defects. The doctors advised abortion. The young mother held fast and delivered a baby girl.
Her daughter, whom she named Keyara but soon began calling Kiki, was born with spina bifida, a defect of the spinal cord and caudal regression in which the lower part of the spine fails to develop correctly. In her case, the lumbar and sacrum didn’t properly develop. Her vertebrae stopped growing at I NEVER FELT LIKE AN the T-12, which is roughly two-thirds of the way down a normally developed spine. Kiki INDIVIDUAL THERE. was born with unusable legs, which were clubbed and crossed. The battle that had begun in the womb would continue for the rest of her life.
GOD GAVE ME
FREE WILL FOR A REASON. —ABBY HINTHORNE
Sometime later, when she was managing a local restaurant, McCormick Cafe, her father said to her, “I’ll be damned, they got you managing it?” “It’s not that he thought I couldn’t do it,” she says. “It was more a surprise that someone would give me, a woman, the opportunity.” Back in college, the faceless mannequin was Abby’s way of depicting the lack of individuality of Hutterite women. “I never felt like an individual there,” she says. “We all looked the same, dressed the same and did the same things. I craved more. God gave me free will for a reason.”
In the next five years, her mother gave birth to three more girls, all before she reached the age of 20.
In those same five years, Abby and Tom launched Abby’s Catering and were working overtime to make it a success. They brought their only child, Kendahl, into the world. Life began to have a rhythm. Kiki knew at a very young age that she was “different.” She learned to scoot across the floor using her hands to lift and move her body. Her home life wasn’t healthy. She and her sisters endured abuse and neglect and were exposed to drugs. It wasn’t long before they were removed, and foster care became a way of life. Kiki was just 6 years old. MAY/JUNE 2020
For the next decade, she would cycle through foster home after foster home, sometimes with her sisters, sometimes alone. Several times she was placed with relatives, but always, she was abused, neglected, removed, kicked out or asked to leave. Her heart became guarded, her trust disappeared, her identity was lost. “With my disability, there are always other health issues too,” Kiki says. “I’m susceptible to UTI’s (urinary tract infections) and I remember hurting so bad and knew I needed a doctor, but I wasn’t getting the care.” School was always difficult. She felt alone and rejected most of the time. “I get that children are scared and confused of someone who’s different,” she says. “I might have been able to handle that, but the bullying. Well, that was tough. It still is.” At one point, the decision was made to amputate her legs in the hope that she would be more mobile. She was left with two stubs and used a wheelchair to get around. By 10, she was adopted by a Billings couple who also neglected and abused her. “The abuse started as soon as I was ‘theirs,’” Kiki says. By junior high, she had endured so much emotional and physical pain, she lost hope.
“I was depressed,” she says quietly. “I had no support system. My body was covered with bruises and cuts. Suicide seemed the only option for me.” While her parents were out of the house, Kiki tried to take her life. They came home just in time to save her. But instead of comfort, they were filled with anger and she received their wrath. “I spent my days terrified of them,” she continues. “I didn’t want to be at school, but I didn’t want to be at home either.” Several teachers at her junior high suspected abuse and though Kiki denied anything was wrong, they made a call to the authorities. Kiki was removed from her adopted parents’ home that day. Meanwhile, at the Hinthorne home, Kendahl was a thriving 12-year-old. Tom and Abby were active and busy with their lives. But things would soon change. Perhaps it was a deeply embedded love for others that Abby claims her mother taught her, perhaps it was an awareness of a need and the inability to ignore it. Or, perhaps, as Abby would say, “It was God’s timing.” But Abby and Tom found themselves unable to ignore the need for foster parents in Billings.
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The Hinthornes trained to become emergency foster parents, willing to be available for those times when a child needs an immediate place to stay. After Kiki was removed from her adoptive home, a relative stepped in to care for her, but after eight months, she was told to leave. Social workers with the state Child and Family Services Division called Abby and Tom. After 10 years of moving from house to house, Kiki needed an emergency home. “I was told that a young girl, 14, needs a place to stay,” Abby says. “She would be with us until something permanent came along. We found out that not only was Kiki in a wheelchair, but she had been severely abused physically and emotionally and we were her seventh placement. We were terrified we wouldn’t be able to meet her needs. All we could do was trust God that we were doing the right thing.” Kiki arrived at the Hinthornes with all her possessions in two garbage bags, and a list of medical issues. “We knew immediately that we wanted to be Kiki’s permanent home,” Abby says. “We couldn’t see this child going through any more trauma. In the first six weeks, we had 20 doctor appointments and an emergency surgery. Her physical health had been so neglected.” On the day of the first visit, they sat with Kiki and Kendahl and talked about expectations. “We didn’t have many,” Abby says. “We just really wanted her to know that even if she was handicapped
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and she’d had an unimaginably tough life, that we had expectations. We go to church. We help each other out. We treat each other as family, and she was safe with us.” Though the Hinthornes were all in with Kiki, the transition was difficult. As more of Kiki’s history was unveiled, Abby knew it would be a long road to their new normal. It was difficult for Kiki to believe the Hinthornes wouldn’t cast her off. “I didn’t believe them,” Kiki says. “Why should I? I’d been promised love and homes and security from so many people and all of them failed me. Why would it be any different here?” “It was hard,” Abby says. “I was a nurturing mother to Kendahl. We always had a close relationship and I thought, ‘I’m good at this,’ but it wasn’t working. It was devastating. It seemed the harder I tried, the more she pushed me away. All of us.”
IN OUR FAMILY.
Once Roche began to help Abby and Kiki understand what each of them needed and why they were responding the way that they were, it helped them to bond.
Desperate to find help, Abby met with doctors and therapists, hoping to find someone to make it possible for her to help Kiki and at the same time make sure she still had a great relationship with
One of the most helpful was Dr. Brenda Roche, Ph.D., who specializes in neuropsychology and has 30 years of experience with children in the foster system.
“Kiki had undergone so much trauma in her life,” Roche says. “She was reacting from a self-preservation perspective. She had no idea what a healthy mother looked like, or what her role as daughter looked like. It had never been IT’S BEEN modeled for her. Like many foster parents, Abby thought love would be enough. But it AMAZING WATCHING HER isn’t with these kids. They’ve been through too much to trust.”
“I was a brat,” Kiki says. “But I was scared. I didn’t want to give them my heart because I knew that it’d just get broken again.”
Kendahl. The sacrifice and stress on each family member proved to be difficult.
“I had Kiki think about the things she liked and disliked about the mother figures in her life and what she wanted or hoped a mother would be to her,” Roche says, “and she came up with: someone to love her no matter what, who set limits and taught responsibility. Someone that would care for her, spend time with her, appreciate her and would treat her as abled, not disabled.”
“Her list was pretty impressive for someone who had never had those things before,” Roche says. “It was obvious to me that she had watched Abby and Kendahl’s relationship and wanted the same thing for herself. She was just afraid to hope for that.” Over the next few years, the Hinthornes took small steps to help Kiki find her individuality and blossom. Before long, she began calling Abby and Tom “Mom and Dad.” She started high school, made friends and experienced some firsts — birthday parties, camping, skiing, four-wheeling and boat rides. She learned to cook and helped with the catering business. She went with the family to Cat-Griz games, Disney World and Hawaii. She lay on the beach and felt the ocean. She took driving lessons and now owns a car. An early love for horses was nurtured and turned into a love and talent with horses so strong that she earned a scholarship at Rocky Mountain College in equine therapy. What lay dormant in her heart was allowed to wake up. “It’s been amazing watching her blossom in our family. She has a deadly sense of humor,” Abby says, laughing. “She loves to make us laugh by poking fun at herself or one of us. One time she said she was glad for the money she’s saved over the years in shoes.” Today Kiki is finishing up her freshman year of college online and living in her first apartment. She had planned to spend the summer traveling with FosterClub, a motivational touring group that educates communities about foster care and uses youth that have successfully transitioned into young adulthood as examples and speakers. With the novel coronavirus, those plans are now on hold. Kendahl is a junior and spent spring, like all the students in Billings, schooling from home. She’s already looking forward to the journey into college.
COOKING FOR FOR A A COOKING
COMMUNITY COMMUNITY ABBY’S CATERING BATTLES CORONAVIRUS BY FEEDING FAMILIES
Abby loves teaching both girls how to navigate life, and how to find their individual gifts. All three women, when asked what this experience has taught them, agreed that the main theme has been compassion. “No one knows the road you’ve been on,” Abby says. “You just never know what’s behind a person. Take time to get to know them before you harshly judge.” ✻
CYDNEY HOEFLE, writer A fourth generation Montanan, was raised on a ranch on the banks of the Yellowstone River where an appreciation of the outdoors was fostered. She and her husband raised three children in Billings and are now the proud grandparents of three. The best part of any of her days is time spent with Jesus, family, friends, a good book or capturing someone’s story in words.
When the coronavirus hit the community, the Hinthornes, like everyone else, wondered what life might look like after the virus faded. Abby’s Catering took a hit when all the events lined up for the next several months came to a screeching halt. Never one to let adversity stop her, Abby and Tom jumped into gear to keep their business going. Through April, they offered family meals three nights a week, prepping upwards of 40 meals each of those nights. “It’s been exhausting,” Abby says, “But we’re doing what we can to keep going. Most of our customers are our clients supporting us on a much smaller scale. We’re very grateful for them.” Abby is blessed by the number of customers that are paying it forward by purchasing meals for families in in need. “We’ve been able to feed several large foster families in town on a fairly regular basis,” she says. “That’s been really great to see.” MAY/JUNE 2020
Love6 DELIVER A LITTLE
WAYS TO PAMPER THE WOMEN IN OUR LIVES
1 N OURISH YOUR SKIN
Vampire Altar Skin Therapy is an amazing retinol cream that ramps up the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your skin. Rich in the extremely hydrating hyaluronic acid, this cream is the perfect complement to our services known as the Vampire Facial and Vampire Face Lift. Find it all at Vitality Medical and Wellness Center with Licensed Provider Melissa Fuller, NP. Book your appointment online at www.myvitalitymedicalwellness.com.
PAMPER HER WITH FLOWERS
LET YOUR FAITH SPARKLE
LAYERS OF LOVE
LIFE IS GOOD
BEST. GIFT. EVER.
FOR THE LOVE OF LEATHER
SALT & SWEAT
the “thought” that counts!
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Cricket has a beautiful collection of necklaces. Wear one or layer two or three. Treat yourself or give a wonderful gift. $36$89. Offering shipping, delivery, and free gift wrapping. Visit us at 2814 2nd Ave N. or call 406-259-3624.
Stop by Shipton’s Big R and check out our brand new Spring styles from Life is Good®. We have gifts mom is sure to love, including t-shirts, tanks, hoodies, Mother’s Day mugs and more. Spread the power of optimism!
Neecee’s locally made “Love Montana” necklaces are still everyone’s favorite! Artistically crafted in sterling silver and set with a Montana sapphire, $199. You can also choose our classic Montana necklace with no bling, $89. Free gift wrap, shipping, delivery or curbside pickup. Located at Shiloh Crossing, contact us at 406-294-2014 or email info@ neecees.com.
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Enjoy the therapeutic effects of infrared sauna or step into the salt therapy room to enhance your skin and heal your respiratory system at Onyx Wellness Studio and Spa. Mention YVW and enjoy a private salt room session for a group up to six for $99 (regularly $145) or mix and match five sauna and salt room sessions for $99. Located in Shiloh Commons in Suite 6.
Give your Mom a simple uplifting reminder to brighten her day from Davidson Home Furnishings & Design. In stock and can be delivered, $15. Visit us at 2228 Grand Ave or call 656-9540. MAY/JUNE 2020
B HARMONY ONYX WELLNESS IS BRINGING THE HEALING POWER OF SALT AND SWEAT TO BILLINGS written by JULIE KOERBER photography by KATRIANA TEOH AND DANIEL SULLIVAN
The rich black rock known as onyx symbolizes healing, confidence and strength — three things Lisa Oppegaard had in mind when she opened her restorative wellness studio and spa named after the semi-precious stone.
use increases blood flow, promoting cell health. She explained how the therapy lowers blood pressure, provides immune system support and promotes better sleep, among many other benefits.
“I love stones and the healing they bring,” Lisa says. “They are all beautiful things that I hope everyone who comes into Onyx feels.”
“We ended up buying one personally,” Lisa says. “I realized how much better I was feeling. I wasn’t nearly as stressed.”
When Lisa left her 12year career of owning and operating a dance studio in Billings, she knew the next chapter of her professional life needed to revolve around health and wellness.
After doing a little research, she realized there were sauna studios all over the nation, bringing the serenity that comes with sweating your way to better health. That’s when she had a light-bulb moment.
Her husband is an avid listener of the podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” On one show, Rogan was joined by Dr. Rhonda Patterson, who spent time touting the health benefits of infrared saunas. Patterson said that, in addition to the solitude that comes with a 20- to 30-minute session, studies have shown regular sauna 34
In November, she opened Onyx Wellness Studio and Spa. Lisa’s allwoman staff helps bring this home for sauna therapy, halotherapy, massage therapy and mat classes like Pilates, yoga and barre to life.
“Many of us live such a busy life, we have a lot on our plates,” Lisa says. “That was the main reason that I chose all of the things within this facility. It is a safe haven for every human.” The spa is home to three saunas offering a handful of programs to target different wellness goals. In addition to heat, they offer chromotherapy. Lisa says, “Every one of the sauna’s colored lights puts off a vibration that then works with your body for a specific healing aspect.”
function,” Lisa says. “So, when people say this can enhance your immune system, this is how.” Just down the hall from three different infrared sauna rooms sits the crown jewel of this wellness center — the halotherapy or salt therapy room. Illuminated Himalayan salt bricks provide ambiance while a generator pumps a fine salt mist into the room. Six zero gravity chairs allow guests to spend 45 minutes relaxing while their lungs take in restorative levels of sodium chloride.
As the color flashes, the heat rises. “Instead of a steam sauna, where it is steam that heats your body, here, the infrared waves penetrate your body.” She adds, “People with chronic pain find a lot of relief with this. A lot of aches and pains come from inflammation in our bodies — through things we eat, through our environment. All of these waves help to reduce inflammation in our body and it helps to reduce toxins through sweat. Then, you experience less pain.”
CHRONIC PAIN find a lot of
RELIEF with this.
The waves also help with cell renewal and your immune system, Lisa says. “The sauna induces a kind of fever by raising your core body temperature, which fires your immune system to work and
As Lisa points to the tiny generator just outside the glowing salt room, she says, “This grinds up tiny salt particles and fans it into the air. It creates the cloud of salt and as you breathe, it just clears out your respiratory system.” She has heard anecdotal evidence from her clients who suffer from allergies and asthma that the room brings relief.
One of those clients is 53-year-old Heidi Bode. She has been a regular customer since Onyx opened its doors. She used to come daily and has scaled back to salt and sauna trips three times a week. She says she first noticed her skin was naturally getting tighter. Then, about three weeks in, it became softer. She started breathing easier and even noticed her food tasting better.
I have more
MENTAL CLARITY. I have more
The mental, emotional and spiritual aspect has been really good for me. —HEIDI BODE
“I am crazy about it,” she says. “Salt has natural healing components to it. It is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. The salt room acts like a toothbrush on your lungs.” When paired with a trip through the sauna, Heidi says relaxation hits first and then, the day after, “I have more mental clarity. I have more energy. The mental, emotional and spiritual aspect has been really good for me.” Since opening, Lisa says more than 700 customers have flocked to give Onyx therapies a try. Between the sauna, salt room, massage and the boutique that offers inspirational and healing gifts, she knows what she has is unique. 36
“I believe in the power of the mind,” Lisa says. “I believe our minds are incredibly powerful. If you are doing something to enhance and improve your wellbeing, mentally you are going to feel better.”
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF INFRARED SAUNA & HALOTHERAPY, visit onyxwellnessmt.com. The center offers memberships for the best pricing. ✻
Your family. Our privilege.
At RiverStone Health Clinic, we provide you with a healthcare experience unlike any other. We assign you your own team of highly skilled medical professionals dedicated to your care. This team-based approach allows us to build a relationship with you, develop a unique treatment plan based on your needs, and put you at the center of every healthcare decision.
123 South 27th Street, Billings MT â&#x20AC;˘ 406.247.3350 â&#x20AC;˘ RiverStoneHealth.org RiverStone Health Clinic is a Health Center Program grantee under Title 42 Section 254b of the United States code and its providers and staff are deemed to be Public Health Service employees under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).
WHEN YOU IGNITE YOUR CORE AND BUILD STRENGTH,
IT HELPS YOU LIVE YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE. —KELSIE HANSEN
KELSIE HANSEN INVENTS A PLAN TO HELP SENIORS “STICK” THEIR FITNESS GOALS written by LAURA BAILEY photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
Not many entrepreneurs can say they were inspired by a spry old Russian woman with a broomstick, but Kelsie Hansen knows a good idea when she sees one. Kelsie is the inventor of the ISOStick, a high-tech riff on the broomstick she saw in a quirky fitness video, and her idea is taking off throughout the region. Kelsie came across the YouTube video while researching new exercises for seniors at St. John’s United Mission Ridge independent living facility. In the video, the woman demonstrated a series of simple movements, both sitting and standing. She used the long, wooden rod for strength exercises and balance support. Kelsie knew immediately the dowel-assisted exercises would be perfect for the more unsteady seniors in her classes. Kelsie took the idea to her supervisor, and after a quick trip to the hardware store, Kelsie started what she called “Stick-Fit” classes at Mission Ridge. They were a hit, and the twice-a-week classes quickly filled. Kelsie was having a blast teaching them, and participants improved their balance and strength. “One of the No. 1 things doctors recommend is that people work on core strength,” Kelsie says. “When you ignite your core and build strength, it helps you live your everyday life.” Kelsie is a tinkerer — the never-give-up kind — and one sleepless night she got to thinking about her Stick-Fit classes and what she could improve. She envisioned a stick that would provide adequate stability and security but was fluid enough that it could provide feedback for balance and resistance for a workout. Kelsie imagined a hollow, lightweight stick with a spring inside to create resistance. The next day, she spent several hours drawing up a prototype of
what would later become the ISO-Stick. Then, she hit up Home Depot, wandering the aisles looking for inspiration. She needed to find components for her invention but wasn’t even sure what they looked like. What followed was another 12 hours in the garage, working late into the night, to deconstruct all her supplies and build what she envisioned. “It was just a mess, but it worked,” Kelsie says. She continued to tweak the design, and by November 2018, she built enough ISO-Sticks to outfit the students in her exercise classes at Mission Ridge. They were a hit with residents who say the ISO-Stick was an improvement over the wooden dowel they used previously. Kelsie developed a new isometric workout routine that employed the spring action, which gave the residents an even better workout. “Kelsie made it fun,” says Patty Lechner, a retired nurse and resident at Mission Ridge. One of the greatest advantages of the ISO-Stick for seniors is that it offers a core workout without getting up and down from the floor, which can often be difficult for older people. “I needed the core exercises, and I’ve noticed a difference in my muscles, and it’s given me a little bit more to strive for,” Patty says. Kelsie, 28, has always had a career in fitness. She’s a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor and has led hundreds of classes and was a popular coach. However, she struggled with body image issues for years.
IT WAS A of
FAITH. —KELSIE HANSEN
Competitive bodybuilding in her early 20s caused her to develop a body obsession, which led to severe depression and a binge-eating disorder. She became a personal trainer to lose weight, and with so many workouts, she was sure she would finally attain the body she wanted. It worked, and Kelsie shed the weight, but the lifestyle was corrosive. As a trainer, it was easy to put on a veneer of confidence, but inside she continued to battle with negative selftalk. “The gym scene for me became a toxic environment,” Kelsie says. “With my own struggles and insecurities, it tore me down rather than build me up.” At rock-bottom, she applied for the job as an activities coordinator at Mission Ridge. Looking back, it seemed like the job description was written just for her. It was her ticket out of the gym, so she was excited to apply and thrilled when they offered her the job. “I just knew deep down that there was more for me,” she says. Working at Mission Ridge was a healing experience. As she got to know the residents, she gained a greater appreciation for her body and her experiences. “I fell in love with simple movements,” she says. “It made me realize how lucky and blessed I am to be in the body I have.” The residents at Mission Ridge became like a second family for Kelsie and provided a space for her to cultivate her passion for fitness. The enthusiasm and
support from seniors fed her love for helping others. “They stole my heart — every one of them!” Kelsie says. Tina Price and Erin Adams, Kelsie’s supervisors at Mission Ridge, say Kelsie had a unique ability to connect with seniors and staff. She was always willing to stop what she was doing and visit with them and make personal connections. Kelsie began to wonder how she could help even more seniors improve their fitness. She thought that if she could supply other independent and assisted living facilities with her ISO-Sticks and help teach the fitness instructors there how to use them, more people would benefit. While Kelsie loved the idea of helping others, her husband Leo encouraged her to think of the business possibilities. Together they began manufacturing ISO-Sticks in their garage and visiting independent and assisted living facilities throughout Montana. “I never thought of myself as a business owner or entrepreneur,” she says. “My husband, on the other hand, that’s all he saw. He’s been my business co-pilot and mentor in all of this and has really helped me see the opportunity.” Last year, Kelsie made the decision to leave her job at Mission Ridge to pursue her ISO-Stick idea full-time, which included a move to Livingston to be closer to manufacturing opportunities. “It was a leap of faith,” Kelsie says. “I loved my job but knowing that we needed to grow the business, it was
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Serving our community for 105 years ...and STILL OPEN for your cleaning needs! time.” While she has been missed at Mission Ridge, everyone there is excited to see Kelsie pursue her dream and watch the ISO-Stick take off. When she can, Kelsie drops in for a visit. “We miss her, but we support what she’s doing. It’s such a unique product and idea, we’re proud of her,” Tina Price says. These days, Kelsie travels the region teaching instructors how to use the ISO-Stick and selling her invention to independent and assisted living facilities. She also teaches fitness instructors how to use the stick in their classes and has developed a training manual and series of ISO-Stick videos, which are available on YouTube, and DVDs. Kelsie’s invention is now in use in numerous facilities across Montana and throughout the Northwest and into North and South Dakota. “It’s a very niche market but we’re learning that every time we introduce it to a market they say, this is what we’ve been looking for,” Kelsie says. “It’s simple, easy to teach and accessible for all fitness levels. You can have a woman who is 103 sitting next to somebody who is 33 and they’re getting the same benefit.”
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For Kelsie, the best part is the opportunity to work with seniors. Wherever she goes, she teaches ISO-Stick classes. “The seniors are my biggest motivators. They’ve told me how it’s changed their lives and they believe it needs to be in every community and every home because it has made such a difference for them,” she says. For now, Kelsie and Leo are continuing to
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935 Lake Elmo Dr Billings Heights | 606-1170
WE ALL HAVE A
Purpose AND LEARNING TO EMBRACE THAT IS GOING TO
PROPEL YOU FORWARD. —KELSIE HANSEN
build each ISO-Stick in their garage, but they are hoping to find a manufacturer to help bring down the cost and make Kelsie’s invention even more affordable for seniors. A nationwide marketing plan is also in the works. Everywhere she goes, Kelsie is eager to encourage others to pursue their one-of-a-kind ideas. “If it’s the thing you can’t stop thinking about and it’s in your heart, it would be an injustice to not give that a chance,” she says.
Kelsie has always lived by a simple notion — Grow where you are planted — and it has informed her approach to entrepreneurship. “You don’t need to change to get there. Just keep digging in where you are,” she says. “It’s not about changing the scenery, it’s about finding what the universe has already provided. We all have a purpose and learning to embrace that is going to propel you forward.” ✻
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s g n i l Bil to
r e p p a l F
y n n a F THE LIFE OF ETHEL HAYS
written by VIRGINIA BRYAN photography courtesy WESTERN HERITAGE CENTER
Editor’s Note: Over the past century-plus, many women in the
Yellowstone Valley have broken tradition, refusing to let society dictate their path in life. They’ve been comics, political activists, rough-and-tumble history makers and community champions. Starting in March under the leadership of Community Historian Lauren Hunley, the Western Heritage Center began honoring 10 of these women with its exhibit called “Saints & Sinners: Women Breaking Tradition.” The exhibit runs through 2020. Look for one of these noteworthy women in each issue through 2020. George M. and Jennie Hays were thrilled when their only daughter, Ethel Maude, was born in 1892. George was a man of stature in Billings and served as Yellowstone County's first clerk of District Court. The family, which included Ethel and her three brothers, lived on Terry Avenue, close to Billings' downtown. It was there that Ethel grew to become a highly influential, nationally syndicated cartoonist who never forgot her Billings roots. In her teen years, Ethel used her innate artistic talent as the art director for the Billings High School yearbook, “The Kyote.” Among her girlfriends were women’s suffrage activist Hazel Hunkins, also featured in the “Saints & Sinners” exhibit, and Kula Moss, daughter 44
of P.B. and Mattie Moss, the influential Billings couple who built the Moss Mansion. Ethel had two aunts who recognized and nurtured her artistic talent. In 1911, they encouraged Ethel to study at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. Once there, Ethel received a scholarship to the Art Students League of New York. She was making plans to study art at Acadamie Julian in Paris when World War I (1914-1918) broke out. Ethel returned to Billings and while home, she responded to the military's call for art teachers. American soldiers were coming home with shell shock (now known as posttraumatic stress disorder) and art activities proved to be therapeutic. She was assigned to a military base in Johnson City, Tennessee. From there, a series of fortuitous events catapulted her onto the national stage. Ethel became a military “Chuckle Girl,” one of several clever women who created educational war-time pamphlets containing comic illustrations and witty sayings. While an art teacher, a recovering veteran's interest in cartooning compelled Ethel to enroll in a correspondence course. She needed to learn the skills to teach them. Ethel's cartooning instructor, so
impressed by her work, shared it with an editor at the Cleveland Press. Before long, the editor hired Ethel for an illustration position at his paper. That job led to another with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) news syndicate. At the NEA, Ethel developed her original cartoon, “Flapper Fanny," which would come to appear in more than 500 newspapers nationwide. Ethel was in her early 30s when she found her voice as Fanny, who was portrayed as a young, whip-smart, independent and self-confident woman who flouted societal norms. Fanny’s approachable and good-humored manner dispelled fears of changing women's roles among her readers. Her attire made clothing free of Victorian restraint more acceptable. Clara Bow, Hollywood's silent screen star and a huge fan, even incorporated Ethel's designs for Fanny into her own wardrobe. In 1925, Ethel married William Simms and relocated to Kansas. In keeping with expectations of the day, Ethel tried to resign from NEA but her editors wouldn't hear of it. They allowed her to work from home and submit her cartoons by mail. Ethel discontinued her illustrations of “Flapper Fanny” when the Great Depression set in. By then, she had two children and two step-children at home. “Flapper Fanny” was assigned to another syndicated cartoonist. Readers noticed and so did the newspapers. A reprinted February 1929 advertisement from the San Jose Evening News touted Ethel’s talent saying, “Ethel Hays has a host of imitators, but there is only one Ethel.” That advertisement appeared in an article on “Hogan’s
Alley,” an online magazine devoted to cartooning. The author of the piece, Allan Holtz, described Ethel as a “trailblazer” and “the greatest of all women newspaper artists.” By the early 1940s, Ethel was back working as a successful illustrator. Surviving editions of “Mother Goose,” “The Night Before Christmas,” “Raggedy Ann and Andy,” coloring books and paper dolls illustrated by Ethel are all now highly collectible. She retired from her commercial career in the 1950s but continued as a working artist into the late 1970s. She died in New Mexico in 1989 at the age of 97 and came home to rest in the Billings Mountview Cemetery. Ethel always considered Billings her home and she returned regularly. Yet, many feel Billings didn't give Ethel her due. When contacted by the Western Heritage Center, a member of Ethel’s extended family in Billings was unaware of her Aunt Ethel's fascinating life story, her considerable talent, and her national influence with "Flapper Fanny" at the forefront. ✻
VIRGINIA BRYAN, writer Virginia Bryan is a freelance writer and director of ArtWalk Downtown Billings, which is part of the DBA. She has written extensively about our region’s artists and their art and serves as an independent consultant on various art and cultural projects.
SUCCESS FOR NEARLY 100 YEARS
written by CYDNEY HOEFLE photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
At the start of spring, the temperature hovered around freezing and the sky was overcast. But inside the Garden Avenue Greenhouse, the temperature was a balmy 80 degrees. The place was bustling, getting ready for a rebirth of its own.
quiet street that runs parallel to I-90 just south of the 27th Street
Shelli Gayvert, co-owner of the greenhouse, was directing her nursery staff. They were on a tight deadline to transform the open greenhouse into a tropical paradise that would help draw in customers from around the region.
Avenue was filled with trucks full of fresh produce. Farmers lined
Tomato planting started in February when thousands of seeds were planted using a table-height mounted seeder. The small-scale seeder, which mimics field farming, drops seeds into a shallow tray portioned into hundreds of compartments. The dozens of trays are hand filled with nutrient-rich soil before they hit the conveyer belt to be seeded. When the time is right, thousands of seedlings large enough to be divided into four-packs, six-packs and larger, are all meticulously transplanted by hand.
and for the next 50-plus years, a Gayvert would be in charge.
Started nearly 100 years ago by Fred Kephart, the business is now tended by Shelli and her husband, Dan. Fred opened the doors in the 1920s on the same 10 acres located on Garden Avenue, a
married, she eventually joined the business fulltime. Their children,
overpass. It’s the oldest greenhouse and nursery in Yellowstone County and today handles more than 1 million plants each year. “It was actually a truck garden,” Shelli says. “Back then, Garden the street with their trucks loaded with the produce they grew. Fred’s specialty was tomatoes.” In 1963, Ray and Casey Gayvert, Dan’s parents, bought the business
Shelli was raised on a farm near Rapelje and Dan grew up right on the property, which supports two homes along with 45,000 square feet of green house, 15,000 square feet of retail space and a sevenacre garden. Dan graduated from college with a degree in horticulture and returned to manage the nursery for his parents. After he and Shelli Julie and John, grew up playing and working at the greenhouse and now a member of the fourth generation, Shelli and Dan’s grandson,
2-year-old Wyatt, spends time at his mother’s side while she helps out at the nursery. “Dan is farmer at heart,” Shelli says. “He’s lived and worked on this plot of land his entire life. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about plants and is adept at keeping the place running. He’s a plumber, electrician, mechanic and has a wealth of knowledge. It’s in his soul.” Shelli takes care of all the accounting and the customers. Together they operate like a well-oiled machine working separately or together depending on the need and the season.
Shelli says. “We want our customers’ time here to be an experience for them. The warmth, the smells, the white noise coming from the water features. It’s all very relaxing and tranquil.”
I REALLY ENJOY
HELPING CUSTOMERS TRANSFORM THEIR YARDS AND GARDENS INTO AN
Julie is the buyer in charge of purchasing and displaying the retail space. Her creative touch brings water features, bird feeders, spinners and unique planters to the grounds. As part of the “seasons” of the greenhouse, the Gayverts transform their business several times over the span of the growing season. They begin with promoting yard art as people clean their yards and gardens after having been dormant over the winter.
By Mother’s Day weekend, the greenhouse is in full swing. Beautiful color spots, —SHELLI GAYVERT hanging baskets and colored planters Then, flowering plants start to fill the space and as the temperature brimming with blossoms fill the greenhouse, their fragrant smell permeating throughout. rises and another month is peeled from the calendar, the bedding plants come out. Dozens of varieties of tomatoes, peppers and other “It’s always fun to see people come in and enjoy what we have here,” vegetables add to the excitement as customers look over the
selections and make their choices. “I really enjoy helping customers transform their yards and gardens into an oasis,” Shelli says. “We aim to help them make their space into something they want to come home to.” She helps customers every step of the way, figuring the amount of sun an area receives. She looks at the type of soil that’s best, the type of fertilizer that’s needed, all while pinpointing a customer’s personal taste. “We have such a variety of plants,” Shelli says, “I encourage people to wander around and see what strikes them. What colors and smells are they attracted to? Do they enjoy the sounds of spinners turning in the wind or the water from a water feature? We can help them plan out their entire area.” By mid-summer, Shelli and Dan fill their truck with plants,
produce and herbs and cart it all to the Billings Farmers’ Market. “We’ve been part of the farmer’s market for 23 years. It’s good exposure for us and gives us an opportunity to socialize,” Shelli says. Putting a beautiful touch on downtown Billings isn’t new to the Garden Avenue Greenhouse. The baskets adorning the center of the city are planted by nursery’s staff. “That’s a project we are very proud of,” Shelli says, “We plant 150 baskets in March so that they are ready to go just before Strawberry Fest.” By autumn, the nursery undergoes yet another major transformation. “We love fall,” Shelli says. “In late October we host our holiday kickoff. We have over 60 vendors, a food truck, pumpkin carving and a tree of mums.” The tree, filled with more than 100 mums in a variety of colors, has become a familiar feature. So are the thousands of pumpkins grown on the property throughout the
WE JUST CONCENTRATE ON
WHAT WE DO BEST AND DO IT THE BEST THAT WE CAN. —SHELLI GAYVERT
summer ready for carving. Customers have a plethora of choices for fall decorating with corn stalks, squash, gourds, pumpkins and fall yard art. In the week’s that follow, the Gayverts turn down the heat and batten down the hatches to prepare for winter. In the 10 years since Shelli and Dan have taken over, the business has continued to thrive. They’ve built on this near century-old enterprise, working to keep it productive, efficient and even more appealing as the years move forward. “Everything is always changing, “Shelli says, “We just concentrate on what we do best and do it the best that we can.” ✻
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HoneyHOBBY of a
BILLINGS WOMEN LEARN THE SWEETEST LESSONS WITH BEEKEEPING written by LAURA BAILEY photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
Andrea Horrell remembers exploring the backroads of Montana with her husband on a quest to relocate to Montana. While the sights and sounds of that sweet, sunny summer were breathtaking, she couldn’t help but fix her attention on the little white towers that seemed to be around every bend on those gritty gravel roads.
mention piqued Tracy’s interest, and it seemed that everywhere she turned, beekeeping kept popping up on her radar. When she started hearing about colony collapse and realized how important honeybees are to the environment, she decided she wanted to give beekeeping a try.
Beehives, she was told they were by a local, and with that, a seed was planted. If they ever realized their dream of owning property in Montana, she would become a beekeeper.
The idea of mastering a new hobby all her own was appealing, too, and she threw herself into research.
That road trip was almost 15 years ago now, and Andrea and her husband and two children have tucked into Montana as if they were born here, and, yes, she’s keeping bees. She has two hives at their home in Billings and another two at a ranch they own in Rosebud County. This time of year, as the bees take their first flights out of the hive in search of life-sustaining nectar and pollen from flowers, Andrea is closely watching. Perhaps later this month, she’ll crack the lid on each hive and check to make sure everything is going well with the colony.
“I felt like I hadn’t done anything on my own in a while, and I needed to learn to do something new,” Tracy says.
LET NATURE PLAY OUT.
“I’m not really in charge,” Andrea says. “I’m more of a steward of the bees than their owner. You just let nature play out. You tune in, exercise some intuition and let them take charge.”
YOU TUNE IN, EXERCISE SOME INTUITION AND LET THEM TAKE CHARGE. —ANDREA HORRELL
Andrea started her journey with a lot of research and joined the Yellowstone Valley Beekeepers Association, which proved to be a valuable resource. Several old-timers took her under their wings and helped her through the first year or two. This spring, Andrea started her ninth season as a hobby beekeeper, and she’s become a trusted resource to others, including Tracy Newbury, who is now in her third year keeping bees. Tracy became interested in beekeeping while helping her child write a book report on Sir Edmund Hillary. While Hillary was best known for being the first to summit Mount Everest, they discovered in their research that he was also a beekeeper. That brief
Now Tracy is a self-described “bee nerd” and loves sharing every detail she’s learned about beekeeping. Ask her a question, and she pulls out her phone to share photos of her bees at work, and all the beautiful honey she’s harvested. In the beginning, Tracy felt like a bystander to a miracle. She could hardly conceive of the intricate process the tiny insects used to make honey, and how their work was so closely tied to food production and our agricultural economy.
“The more you know, the more you know how little you know,” Tracy says. Tracy jumped on board with her hives just as the Billings City Council adopted an ordinance permitting people to have up to two hives at their homes inside the city limits. Throughout the rest of the region, hobby beekeepers are allowed to have up to 10 hives. Tracy’s first harvest was clear and straw-yellow. The second year, her harvest was a dark amber. Though she’d made no changes, she believes her bees were likely sourcing pollen from different plants. In her Billings neighborhood, there are lots of flowering trees, and she plants a flower garden as well. Her hives sit next to her shed, and the bees are so calm and friendly that they go unnoticed unless Tracy points them out. Even during a luau party when dozens of friends converged on Tracy’s back yard, no stings were reported.
“If you’re not a flower, they don’t really care about you,” Andrea says.
A good keeper will recognize those unique qualities and can help bring out the best in their colonies.
Still, Tracy and Andrea suit up in their white suits, gloves and veils when they have to disturb their bees to check on the queen and ensure the colony is in good health.
“Still, at the end of the day, they’re doing the work,” Andrea says.
“You have to be calm to do it,” Tracy says. “Sometimes I have to put it off because I’m not in the right space or the conditions just aren’t right.” It seems that every year is different in some way, and just when Andrea and Tracy think they know what they’re doing, a new challenge comes up. They are constantly learning the nuances of beekeeping and learning again each year to trust nature.
Despite their years of experience, there’s still much to learn – about bees and beekeeping.
I FELT LIKE I HADN’T DONE ANYTHING ON MY OWN IN A WHILE, AND
“I think men and women keep bees very differently,” Tracy says. “To me, it’s very maternal. It’s not on your schedule, it’s theirs, just like babies.”
A lot of babies. Each honeybee colony can include up to 60,000 bees. However, it’s the queen who deserves the most attention. Without a queen, the colony will die. Though beekeepers’ opinions vary as to how much time their hobby requires, both Andrea and “When I have to do something I haven’t done Tracy agree: There’s always something going before, I still get anxious,” Andrea says. “Every on. Perhaps the most labor-intensive time is —TRACY NEWBURY time I’m afraid to do something, I just take a honey harvest in the fall. It’s also when Tracy deep breath and trust myself.” and Andrea bless their friends and neighbors with the fruits of their bees’ labor. The women have discovered that each hive has its own personality — an attitude set by the queen — and certain species of honeybees While the honey is sweet, perhaps the best rewards for Tracy and have different traits. Some are prone to swarming, some are more Andrea are the lessons beekeeping have taught them: Be patient. aggressive than others, some are heavy producers but are sensitive And, expect the unexpected. ✻ to the elements. Others are hearty but aren’t big honey producers.
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Bees must visit about
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A single hive can produce anywhere from
60 to 100 LBS of
INTERESTED IN BEEKEEPING? The Yellowstone Valley Beekeepers Association provides a great introduction to beekeeping and support along the way. The group meets year-round on the second Tuesday of the month at the Western Heritage Center, 2822 Montana Ave., in Billings. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m., and all experience levels are welcome.
406 QUEEN BEE 13.1 Saturday, May 30, 8 a.m. Yellowstone Family Park Join in a half marathon, 10K, 5K or 2-mile race. Proceeds will be used to support beekeeping awareness projects through the Yellowstone Valley Beekeepers Association For details, visit, 406raceseries.com.
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FOOD HUB BENEFITS OF LOCAL FOOD SUDDENLY COME INTO FOCUS written by ED KEMMICK photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
The first time YVW spoke with people behind the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub, late in February, they were optimistic, convinced that years of hard work were slowly starting to pay off. By the end of March, two weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the Food Hub’s prospects had improved dramatically. The availability of good, locally produced food had taken on a whole new importance. “The silver lining of this is that people are realizing that local isn’t just a fad, or something to do when you have the money to do it,” says Annika Charter-Williams, a Roundup-area rancher. “It’s supporting your community and your local food system, so that when you’re supporting your local farms and ranches when times are good, they can support you back when times are bad.” The roots of the Food Hub go back to 2011, when producers including Annika’s ranch, Charter Beef & Livestock, started a local food-buying club. Later, the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, an affiliate of the Northern Plains Resource Council, began helping producers organize the Food Hub.
The idea was that more people would buy local foods if there was a central location where products could be aggregated, processed, packaged and sold. Ten local producers had signed on as dues-paying members by the end of 2017, and early in 2018, the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub was officially recognized as an agricultural marketing association cooperative. Last year, the Food Hub began partnering with Swanky Roots, a large aquaponics greenhouse on Story Road, near Duck Creek Bridge, that grows leafy greens and some herbs and vegetables year-round. More recently, the Food Hub partnered with the Produce Depot in downtown Billings, and both collaborations have raised the Food Hub’s profile and expanded its reach. Then the coronavirus hit, and one day most local grocery stores were suddenly out of ground beef. The Food Hub got the word out on Facebook and its website, saying it had plenty of locallyproduced ground beef available, and within a week, Annika says, orders to the Food Hub nearly tripled. Casey Anderson, a co-owner of the Produce Depot, saw a similar increase. In response to the pandemic, the storefront at 2815
Second Ave. N. was no longer open for shopping, but customers could still pick up pre-ordered bags of food there, and the depot also began making twice-a-week deliveries. On Wednesday, March 25, Casey says, he and his team made more than 150 home deliveries, working till past dark, and they still needed to finish up on Thursday, Meanwhile, 30 to 40 more customers picked up orders at the store. Casey has also been working with Swanky Roots and had planned to begin adding Food Hub meat products to his delivery options as soon as the group had obtained all the necessary inspections and licensing. In fact, Casey says, he was about to launch a website for the Produce Depot that would include the Food Hub and four or five other local producers, giving consumers a wide variety of ordering options.
SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL FARMS AND RANCHES
“People order stuff off Amazon every single day,” Casey says. “They’ve got boxes showing up at their house all the time. If you can do that and buy other products that support businesses that are local, that would be pretty cool.”
THEY CAN SUPPORT YOU BACK WHEN TIMES ARE BAD.
WHEN TIMES ARE GOOD,
— ANNIKA CHARTER-WILLIAMS
YOU GET TO SEE AND HAVE A CHANCE TO
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PRODUCING THE FOOD. —PETER TOLTON
The Food Hub was also awaiting delivery of a couple of freezers that will be installed in the warehouse portion of the Produce Depot. Casey was also busy trying to find a second location, closer to the West End. Meanwhile, as of late March, the Food Hub was still looking for a full-time general manager. After losing one GM after just a few months, one of the producers, Brittany Moreland, took over that role for a while, but she grew too busy and had to back out. Since then, Annika says, she and the other member-producers have been doing the work themselves — educating the public, planning fundraising and awareness-raising events, and talking with consumers, other producers and restaurant owners about the best way forward. “We’ve got an amazing group of producers,” Annika says. “The best word to describe everybody is, they’re just so steady. We’re getting it all done without a general manager, which is actually kind of insane. But I’m super proud of everybody.” Teresa Erickson, who recently retired from the Northern Plains Resource Council, volunteered to lend her expertise in the search for a new GM. The response was already strong before the pandemic hit, after which the number of applicants doubled, to about 30. Teresa says hiring the right person for the job should really boost the Food Hub’s prospects, as will finding a larger, centralized facility where all the processing, storage and sales can be done. It’s a lot of work, she says, but “I’m just so energized by the producers’ enthusiasm.” 58
And in another instance of bad news turning into an opportunity, Teresa says, Billings in the past couple of years had to deal with the closure of the three grocery stores that led the way in buying local products — Good Earth Market, Evergreen IGA and Lucky’s Market. Those were big blows, she says, but the lack of retail options raised the profile of the Food Hub, and got a lot more people thinking about the necessity of finding new ways to support local food systems. Peter and Ruhiyyih Tolton have been believers for years. The married couple used to buy food through a local farm’s community-supported agriculture program, and later bought micro-greens from a friend who went into that business. Those options eventually went away, but Peter and Ruhiyyih still buy local as much as they can, through the Food Hub. Ruhiyyih says she spent most of her adult life not eating meat because of “a disgust with factory farming,” but the Food Hub has given her a chance to reintroduce meat into her diet. “I just felt like including some meat in my diet felt like a healthy choice,” she says, “and I feel like I have access to meat that I trust where it comes from, and that the animals are treated in humane ways.” For Peter, the main attraction is dealing directly with farmers and ranchers. “You get to see and have a chance to build a relationship with the people who are producing the food, which is huge,” he says.
SWANKY ROOTS IS A PART OF THE FOOD HUB AND ONE OF ITS DISTRIBUTION POINTS. AT LEFT IS SWANKY ROOTS CO-FOUNDER RONNA KLAMERT, AND AT RIGHT IS HER DAUGHTER AND CO-FOUNDER VERONNAKA EVENSON.
DISTRIBUTED BY THE PEPSI-COLA BOTTLING CO. | BILLINGS, MT
Rhonda Hergenrider knows the feeling. She raises hogs on her family’s farm near Bridger and figures she sold 50 to 60 hogs last year through the Food Hub. “The market is there, the interest is definitely there,” she says. “It’s just lining everything up.” But for Rhonda, the benefits go beyond the purely economic. “What I like is just being able to visit with consumers about what we do and what they want.” she says. Annika says one big need now is for more nearby processing options. There are so few meat processors in Eastern Montana that ranchers have to book slots months in advance, and even then pay four to five times as much as it would cost to have the meat processed in Nebraska. Annika says she is not advocating that ranchers sell all their meat locally. With more cows than people in Montana, that wouldn’t be remotely possible. What she would like to see is a two-tier system that moves meat onto the national market but also allows those who want to sell locally to do so as efficiently and economically as possible. Some factors are beyond the control of individual ranchers, including the concentration of the business in the hands of four giant meatpackers. Change will come partly as a result of congressional action to deal with the challenges faced by producers, and partly as consumers change their buying habits. “At the very least,” Annika says, “change is in the air.” ✻
WHAT I LIKE IS
VISIT WITH CON G ABLE TO ABOUT WHAT W SUMERS ED WHAT THEY WAO AND NT. — RH O N D A H ER G EN RI D ER
FOOD HUB AN OPEN DOOR TO LOCAL MEAT AND PRODUCE
The Yellowstone Valley Food Hub offers a wide variety of frozen beef, pork and lamb products, in addition to some eggs, herbs and honey. Through its partnership with Swanky Roots, it is also offering a variety of leafy greens and some vegetables. You can take a look at all of the Food Hub’s offerings, and also place orders, on the group’s website, yvfoodhub.com. When this article was in preparation the Food hub was doing distributions every Thursday at three locations: Swanky Roots, 8333 Story Rd.; the Shrine Auditorium, 1125 Broadwater Ave.; and Red Lodge Ales, 1445 Broadway Ave. N., Red Lodge.
Things were changing rapidly at that time, however, so look for updates on the Food Hub website and on its Facebook page. The Food Hub is now also partnering with the Produce Depot in downtown Billings. That business was still working to launch a website in March, but you can keep up with them on their Facebook page. The Produce Depot was making deliveries and allowing people to pick up bags of produce at its downtown location. To order pre-made bags of produce, send an email to email@example.com.
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INDULGENCE yJAR in a
SPREAD A LITTLE HAZELNUT GOODNESS ONTO YOUR NEXT BITE
We all need little indulgences to get us through trying times. One of mine can be found in a jar in my pantry. It’s Nutella.
KAY ERICKSON, writer Kay has spent her professional career in public relations and broadcast news, currently at Yellowstone Public Radio. Her journalism degree is from Northern Illinois University. Her passions include her family, sports and food. Her mom and an aunt taught her the finer points of cooking and instilled a love of good food and family mealtime.
spicy sweet barbecue sauce 2 T. unsalted butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small yellow onion, minced 1½ c. ketchup ¼ c. brewed coffee 2 T. cider vinegar ½ c. Nutella
1 T. Worcestershire sauce 2 t. dry mustard 2 t. chili powder 2 t. kosher salt 1 t. black pepper ½ t. ground coriander ¼ t. cayenne pepper
IN EVERY ISSUE 62
You may just have a jar of this amazing spread lurking behind your jar of peanut butter. Bring it out from its hiding place and enjoy!
There are many recipes for a homemade sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread but none compares to that smooth silky richness out of the jar. While many love it on toast, waffles or crepes, don’t limit Nutella’s richness. It makes decadent fudge and no-bake bars. Surprisingly enough, it also adds an interesting
TA ST E OF THE VALL EY
written by KAY ERIKSON photography by LOVELY HITCHCOCK
Leave it to an Italian (Wikipedia reports it was Italian bakery owner Pietro Ferrero in the 1940s) to combine hazelnuts and cocoa into the sweetened spread we know today. Nutella came on the European scene in 1964 when Ferrero marketed it abroad.
depth to a spicy sweet barbecue sauce.
Melt the butter in a four-quart saucepan over mediumhigh heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in the ketchup, coffee, Nutella, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, salt, pepper, coriander and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about five minutes. Use right away or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If the sauce is thicker than you would like it, you can thin it with a little more brewed coffee.
nutella fudge 1 c. Nutella 1 c. unsalted butter 1 t. vanilla extract 4 c. powdered sugar Optional: whole hazelnuts, skin removed DIRECTIONS Line an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished fudge out. Melt the butter in a large microwaveable bowl, stopping every three seconds to stir the butter until it is fully melted. Stir in the Nutella and vanilla until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and stir until completely combined. This mixture will be very thick. Press the mixture into the prepared pan, using the back of a spoon or spatula to smooth the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and chill for at least four hours or until firm. Lift the fudge out of the pan and cut into pieces. Place a hazelnut on top of each piece, if desired. Store fudge in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
no-bake nutella bars 10 T. butter, melted 1 c. plain graham cracker crumbs (about eight full sheets of graham crackers) 2 c. powdered sugar 1 c. Nutella Âž c. semi-sweet chocolate chips DIRECTIONS Line an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper with overhang for easy lifting from the pan. Set aside. Mix the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the Nutella, then press evenly into the prepared pan. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Spread chocolate over the Nutella layer. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or until completely firm. Lift the bars from the pan and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Cover leftover bars tightly and refrigerate for up to one week. MAY/JUNE 2020
Do I Need a
Dietary Supplement? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GRAB A POWDER OR PILL written by KARLI BIES, REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST
If you haven’t noticed, the world of dietary supplements is big business. It’s a $120 billion industry. Have you looked at collagen peptides or thought about picking up a jar of powdered greens? Keep reading. We’re going to talk about the benefits and what you need to know before you decide to add one to your diet. So, what is a supplement? It’s any product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary” ingredient like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals. What many don’t realize is that supplements aren’t regulated, and many times they make claims that aren’t backed up by science. Despite the fact they are unregulated and may promote benefits that are not proven, some can and do provide benefits to everyday living. As a dietitian, I always encourage getting nutrients from food first and including a wide variety of foods into your diet to
support your health. However, we live busy lives and I know that I don’t personally eat five fruits and vegetables each day, or have time to eat the recommended daily portions. That’s when a supplement can be used to support your diet and wellbeing. They should, however, be considered a backup, not a replacement for your daily food intake. Since supplements are not specifically regulated, it’s up to us to figure out if what we purchase is high quality. You can start by buying these items from reputable stores and talking with your pharmacist or doctor when you have questions. Before you add a supplement, you should always talk to your healthcare provider first. They know your health history and what medications might interact with the supplement you are considering. Here are some things to look for on the label:
• A USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia), NFS (National Sanitation Foundation), or ConsumerLab label. These are third-party testers to trust. • Lower price point could mean the quality of the product is lower than what it promotes • Look for minimal fillers/ingredients in the label • Steer clear of products making unrealistic claims
Let’s Take a Look at the
POPULAR SUPPLEMENTS MULTIVITAMINS: If you miss some nutrients or vitamins in your diet, a multivitamin can help fill in the gaps. Even though we have access to a variety of foods, certain nutrients could still be missing from your diet. One thing to note (especially for women) is that gummy vitamins don't have iron in them, which is often something women are lacking. Iron can’t be kept in a gummy form, so if you do decide to choose a gummy vitamin, make sure you are getting sufficient iron from your diet or add another supplement. If you don’t like taking larger pills, you could also look at chewable vitamins like the Flintstone brand. And, if a vitamin isn’t something you want to include, mix up your daily menu with a wide variety of foods and you’re sure to meet most of your needs.
PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut and are part of your gut microbiome. These bacteria play a big role in immune health, digestion and other bodily functions. To keep them active, probiotics need to be kept at a certain temperature. These bacteria can be killed or become inactive if they get too hot or cold. This is why you see probiotics in the refrigerator section. For the best benefit, take one that is refrigerated with a variety of active live cultures. It is recommended to find a product with at least 1 billion cultures. Look for one that contains Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or Saccharomyces boulardii. These are some of the most researched types of bacteria. Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt or anything fermented (kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh) so make sure to include those in your diet, especially after you’ve been sick or have been on antibiotics. It is also important to eat prebiotics, which are the foods that your probiotic bacteria use to live. Prebiotics are fermentable fibers and are found in beans, legumes, garlic, wheat and several vegetables and fruits.
during the day, however, collagen is easy to add to your coffee, smoothies, or even soup. It will boost your overall protein intake, but just remember it is not necessary to spend large amounts of money on collagen to get the hair, skin and nail benefits that are often promoted.
The fruit and vegetable powders being promoted right now tout weight loss, the ability to burn fat and reduce bloating. Truth be told, most of the benefits you can get from a greens powder can be achieved simply by eating whole fruits and vegetables. When you eat green vegetables, you even get the benefit of added fiber. In this busy world we live in, however, they may be a great supplement to make sure you are getting your daily fruits and veggies to help digestion and fulfill your micronutrient needs. Look for an option with a variety of fruits and vegetables and with limited or no sugar added.
These are the supplements you may see in an infomercial or even on the shelves of T.J. Maxx or Target. The outside of the bottles tout weight loss, fat burning ingredients and even hair growth, but they most likely don’t have any research to back up their claims. We’ve talked in the past about fad diets and how they promise unrealistic or even unattainable results. That holds true for these supplements as well. You can’t expect magical results from a pill. Some companies are trying to turn your struggles into their gain and so they market towards people who want fast results without the hard work. If a supplement or company is promoting a quick fix for anything, it is probably best to stay away and focus on healthier lifestyle practices to get the results you want. The truth is, while some supplements can prove to be beneficial, there is no perfect pill to fix the nutritional problems you’re facing. The best way to include a supplement is to have a healthy nutritional base to build upon, which means focusing on getting nutrients through the food you are eating. Once you have a balanced diet, then you can turn to supplements to help fill in any gaps. ✻
COLLAGEN PROTEIN: Collagen is a hot topic right now. A lot of branding is geared towards women to promote collagen in the body, which helps strengthen our hair, skin, nails, along with other body proteins. Collagen is made out of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. When you take collagen, it ends up being broken down into the same amino acids as other proteins (chicken, fish, beef). So, the takeaway here is that you don’t need to specifically take collagen powder to support collagen production in the body. If you don’t feel like you are eating enough protein
KARLI BIES, writer Karli is a registered dietitian whose passion is not only food and nutrition but working with clients on their overall health. She loves helping make changes that are sustainable and helping to create healthy relationships with all foods.
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spaces ANN JACKSON BRINGS TOUCHES OF PERSONALITY AND DESIGN PERFECTION written by ED KEMMICK photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
Ann Jackson grew up in Virginia, and some of her fondest childhood memories involve her family’s travels to grand hotels on the East Coast. “Every year we would travel to these really spectacular places,” she says, but two in particular stand out in her memory — the Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and the Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia. Both were very old and elegant, but kept up to date with makeovers and modern furnishings. Later, Ann lived abroad for a year and traveled extensively in England, France and Spain, adding to her storehouse of impressions of beautiful buildings. Coupled with those experiences, she possesses what she calls “a very strange visual memory” of all the “architecturally important spaces” she’s visited in her life. Is it any wonder that she would one day become an interior designer? And somehow, seemingly inevitably, three of the biggest jobs she’s ever been involved with were redesigns of iconic hotels — the Northern Hotel in Billings, the Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho, and Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park.
Sometimes, Ann says, she will walk into a building and see, in a flash of inspiration, what the entire redesign needs to look like. “At my best, that’s how I am,” she says. “I visualize spaces and can almost be in them in a three-dimensional space.” Seven years after the grand reopening of the Northern, owner Mike Nelson says, “I still get goose bumps when I walk through the lobby of my very own hotel, it’s so beautiful. We’re on the U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best Hotels in America’ list, and a big part of it is what Annie helped us do.” But it’s not all about art and inspiration. “Above everything, I need to be of value to my clients,” Ann says. “And I’m an advocate for them. I try to be a vital part of their success, their long-term success.” That is certainly true in his case, Nelson says. “She will still walk through this hotel and straighten the flowers, or straighten the furniture and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be,” he says. “Seven years and two weeks later (since the grand reopening), she’s still on the job.”
NORTHERN HOTEL Ann minored in fine arts in college, but she didn’t get into interior design until she and her then-husband and three young children moved from Virginia to Dallas, where her husband had a medical residency. She worked there with builders and developers on designing new houses.
She basically served a three-year apprenticeship under Thompson. She understood design instinctively, she says, but Thompson taught her the business side of things, the spreadsheets, building codes, specifications and budgets. All those aspects were much more important now that she was working primarily on redesigning old buildings, or repurposing them.
“I was always really good at maximizing things,” Ann says: “maximizing impact, maximizing spaces, maximizing budgets.” She did that for about five years, until she and her family moved YOU HAVE to Billings. After her divorce, Ann found herself alone with three children, and she needed a good, steady income.
Her therapist at the time suggested she go back to interior design. It seems like a logical step now, but previously it wasn’t a job she needed to rely on exclusively, and she wasn’t sure she had the chops to pursue it full time. “She got me onto a path of following my talent and my vision, trying to become independent,” Ann says.
THAT IS TOTALLY CONSISTENT WITH EVERYTHING ELSE THAT’S GOING ON IN THAT SPACE.
Her first commercial project was the redesign of Lake Hotel, giving her the chance to tap into her childhood memories. She thought of the Greenbriar and the Homestead and all those grant hotels whose interiors she knew so well. “That was my vision for redesigning Lake Hotel,” she says. “That kind of elegance, but with Western design. As soon as you can capture that vision, the rest just falls into place.”
Ann went to Mitch Thompson, a widely known, well-respected designer in Billings, and he agreed to take her on. From the start, she says, they worked together well.
After that three-year apprenticeship, Thompson took Ann on as a full partner. She assumed a larger and larger role in the company until, in 2017, she was pretty much on her own. It has been called Jackson & Co. Design since then. She also remarried. Her husband, Derek Eaton, is a network engineer.
“Every project we ever worked on, we always saw things exactly the same,” she says. “It was really weird and it was really seamless.”
With Jackson out on her own, she has been involved in a lot of major commercial projects. In Billings, those include the Northern,
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I CANNOT HAVE THAT
UNTIL I GET TO KNOW MY CLIENT, AND WHAT THEIR CONCEPT IS, AND WHAT THEIR VISION IS. —ANN JACKSON
the Wild Ginger Japanese Steakhouse, Sassy Biscuit, Carne Brazilian Grill and the MSU-Billings Bookstore. In Bozeman she worked on the Best Western Grantree and Sweet Chili 1, and in Boise, in addition to the Grove, her projects included three restaurants — Barbacoa, Alavita and Fork — plus Diablo & Sons Saloon, the Riverside Hotel and Village Cinemas in Meridian. Many of those projects didn’t call for the kind of Western touches for which she and Thompson were best known. Wild Ginger needed a modern, Asian-accented décor, while the Sassy Biscuit had to project its Southern, African-American roots.
DESIGN TO INSPIRE
“You get to tell a totally different story, and that’s the beauty of it,” Ann says. “I cannot have that vision until I get to know my client, and what their concept is, and what their vision is. … You have to create an experience that is totally consistent with everything else that’s going on in that space.” Tina Wu, co-owner with her husband of Wild Ginger and Carne, says they put complete faith in Ann. “She just came up with her own ideas and showed us what it was going to be,” Wu says. “We did like pretty much everything she did. … I have worked with a couple of designers before, but she is just amazing.”
406-861-7509 | ANN@JCO-DESIGN.COM | JCO-DESIGN.COM
On one much smaller project, a client of hers was just as satisfied. Chris Montague, owner of Montague’s Jewelers, a third-generation family business that has been around for
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He says he knew of Ann’s work and had been following her career for years, “especially the redesign of that famous Boise hotel. I love what she did what that space.”
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After she got through with his store, which had been rather dark and old-fashioned looking, Montague says, “Everyone loves it, loves the transformation.” She also redesigned his small office, working as always to maximize efficiency and comfort. edwardjones.com
“It’s really beautiful now,” Montague says. “I’m happy walking in here every day. Before, I was always excited to come to work … but now I walk in and it’s just a pretty space. You could put this space in Seattle, you could put it in Dallas, you could put it in Atlanta, New York.
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7900 S FRONTAGE RD ❈ 656-2410 ❈ BILLINGSNURSERY.COM MAY/JUNE 2020
It’s a very boutique feel now.” Ann says she loves the challenge of working on smaller projects, of needing to pay close attention to budgets. And she continues to make use of what she says is a key lesson: “Design doesn’t have to be in your face all the time, and it shouldn’t be in your face all the time.” She enjoys hearing that someone noticed something new after visiting, for the 10 or 15th time, one of the projects she worked on.
CREATING SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR SPACE
Right and Perfect OR IT’S NOT. —ANN JACKSON
Above all, she says, interior design should be like a fine painting. When you see it, you don’t analyze it for brush strokes, composition or lighting. You just enjoy it as a whole. “It’s either right and perfect or it’s not,” she says. ✻
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green2 thumb REQUIRED
written by RACHEL JENNINGS photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
REFRESH YOUR ROOM WITH A TOUCH OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
For decades, people have been adding a splash of green to their living spaces thanks to faux plants. And, with more people enjoying the coziness of their homes these days, faux plants have made a huge comeback. But, move over ficus tree, the olive tree is now taking a decorative center stage. There’s something about the silvery leaves that add a posh feeling to any décor. While I stumbled upon one on the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog, I wasn’t willing to fork over the $399 to buy one. I thought I would see if I could create this beautiful European look for a fraction of the cost. I knew it would be a challenge, however, to create one that looked realistic and full of character.
LO OK W HAT W E FOUN D
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
• 2-3 faux olive stems per tree • A twig • Floral tape colored to match your twig • Floral foam • Floral wire • B asket - shop your basement or hit a thrift store
IN EVERY ISSUE 80
• Hot glue & glue gun • Grape vine or moss, optional
To start, I took a “shopping trip” to my alley to look for the perfect twig to serve as the trunk of my faux tree. Since I knew this piece would show, I wanted it to look real. Length didn't matter, because I knew I could cut it down to size. I looked for a twig that was about the diameter of a finger, one that tapered to a nice thin tip. I also wanted a twig with a few branches at the top. After I found my base, I took at trip to my local craft store where I found olive stems for $12.99 apiece. These were the most expensive part of the project but at the time, they were 50 percent off. I decided, thanks to the sale, that it was a perfect time to make not one, but two trees. I also grabbed two floral foam squares. The size of my basket base dictated the size of foam. I knew I needed something pretty substantial to really hold everything in place. When picking your floral foam, choose the hard Styrofoam rather than the spongy version to best hold your stems in place. With all of your items gathered, start by trimming your floral foam to fit your basket. I used a serrated knife to slowly trim off edges, test fitting as I went along. One of my squares was a little on the small side for my basket so I used the cut-off foam from my other square to wedge this square into the second basket. Paper towels or knotted plastic bags also work well to fill in the gaps. Grab the olive stems and play with how you want them to look. On my shorter tree, I wanted a bushier look so I staggered the ends by approximately two inches and started to wrap my wire tightly around the stems until they were secure. On my taller topiary tree, I opted for an airier look. I took my trimmed branch and tightly wired one stem where I wanted the topiary to start. Measuring roughly four inches above the first stem, I wired the second stem in place. These measurements are approximate. You’ll want to go with what’s visually appealing to you. After you’re done wiring the branches in place, wrap the floral tape around the trunk of your tree to hide the wiring and then hide the end of the tape. With the foam secure in the basket, find the center of the foam and shove the trunk into the foam, hot gluing into place. I placed some grapevine twigs at the base of each tree and wrapped them up through the leaves, also hot gluing in place. This is the character part of the project. To cover the foam in the basket, I hot glued moss to the foam. While I used moss, you can also use rocks or even bark. After assembly, fluff and adjust the leaves to your liking and enjoy! To create each tree, I spent just under $30. When you consider that high-end decorator shops are charging close to $400, that’s quite a savings for something just as beautiful. ✻
RACHEL JENNINGS, writer Rachel is a self described "Junker," who not only loves all things old, but LOVES the challenge of trying to make something new out of each find. While she is a Hair Stylist by day, in her off time you can often find her covered in paint, trying to repurpose something she's found.
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