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Whitefish Community Foundation awards project grant to Montana Veterans Home

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Montana Veterans Home

The Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls has been raising funds for a new recreational bus, and thanks to the community’s help they are able to buy one.

The bus they have now does not look beaten up, but Vietnam veteran Gus Mariner told NBC Montana otherwise.

"Well it was rattily and rickety,” Mariner said. “It made a lot of noise and bounced around. It was uncomfortable to be riding around in."

Recreation supervisor, Bonnie Stutsman, said the bus goes on about six outings a month and that increases to 12 in the summertime.

A bumpy ride is not its only problem.

"There were three months we weren't even able to use the bus,” Montana Veterans Home volunteer Dianna Bennett said. “We had to start borrowing from other places."

This is why Bennett fundraised for a new one.

She said thanks to about $20,000 in donations from community members and a major project grant awarded for $117,500 from the Whitefish Community Foundation they had the money.

"It made everything happen and I am excited to take our residents out in comfort and in style," Stutsman said.

The residents are excited, too.

"It'll be nice a little deluxe bus, a little deluxe travel, we would like that around here," Mariner said.

The new bus will have more seats, a ramp instead of a lift, a PA system and more wheelchair space.

"It's well needed," said World War II Navy veteran Robert Olson.

Now the residents will enjoy a smoother ride for their shopping trips to Walmart, to lunches at the VFW, to Glacier National Park and more.

"Thanks for taking care of our veterans I mean that's what we are all about," said Bennett.

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