The Evergreen-based Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry is dedicated to reaching out to homeless, low-income and at-risk veterans and their families. The pantry also houses a thrift store and offers medical equipment and loan programs, homeless facilities and more.
With all the networking she does, the organization’s outreach coordinator, Cinnamon Davis-Hall, is arguably one of the most interconnected people in the Flathead Valley. As part of her responsibilities, she regularly attends and speaks at a wide range of meetings with various organizations, including non-profit and private organizations, veterans service organizations and businesses, especially during the holidays. She also sits on committees for the governor, homeless awareness and suicide prevention committees, and works with all the food banks and VFWs in the valley, always striving to connect people to the right resources. Its goal is to glean information that will benefit the pantry while sharing what the pantry has to offer. This fall Davis-Hall was invited to participate in the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Flathead Personal and Professional Development Program.
DAVIS-HALL grew up in a family immersed in helping veterans. She never thought twice about her father and mother, Allen and Linda Erickson, who offered their couch to veterans and did not realize at the time that these veterans were in fact sans. -shelter.
In Libby in 2000, Davis-Hall’s father founded the Veterans Food Pantry and organized the first of the annual demobilization events, a military term for when combat troops can take a break from the state of constant alert and to the difficulties of the battle to enter a safe. area where they can eat, rest and receive medical care. Today’s booth is a place where veterans receive free services, medical assessments, food, clothing and supplies.
“My parents are my inspiration,” she said. “They have always been very hard workers. They’ve faced obstacles over the years, but they’re not giving up. Her father, a Navy veteran, believes veterans help veterans. “My parents remain true to the mission of the pantry.”
A FLAT HEAD A valley resident since kindergarten, Davis-Hall has been involved in the Veterans Food Pantry for almost 14 years. Prior to that, she had run bread stores and worked in merchandising and marketing. It was her management of marketing and catering at the former Tidyman’s employee-owned grocery store in Kalispell that helped cultivate the sense of joy she now brings to her pantry career.
“We were a family,” she said of Tidyman’s. “Managers told us that if we didn’t feel that we could bring happiness and joy to work on any given day, it would be best to stay home. It resonated with me. This is how life should be.
As involved in the community as she is, Davis-Hall emphasizes that her family is her main goal. Widowed in 2008, she felt she had to look after and raise her three children first. She quit her other jobs, withdrew from the nursing degree she was pursuing at the time, and was then able to become more involved in the pantry.
“I saw the need for both the pantry and the community,” she said. “Helping the veterans is like no other feeling after what they gave us. I appreciate what they have done for us.
And it wasn’t just Davis-Hall who stepped up to help his parents help the veterans community. The entire Erickson family is involved in Allen and Linda’s efforts. Her six siblings (her older sister is called Ginger), nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all converge on Libby’s departures to help. Every year, at least 23 family members are there to help out.
FAMILY also has boots on the ground at Camp Ponderosa. Over the past two years, they have renovated the old 79-acre correctional facility in the Seeley-Swan Valley into a veterans retreat and learning center, with the goal of creating a stylish setting. family. Religious groups and veterans also contributed to the long-term project.
As busy as Davis-Hall is, she says her biggest challenge is trying to find that daily balance between her family and work life. With two teenagers at home, she says there just aren’t enough hours in the day. She is also a certified nurse aide at Brendan House, a Scout volunteer, a member of the Evergreen Lions Club, and sells Norwex cleaning products in her spare time.
But all of the successes she’s witnessed through the Veterans Pantry keep her going.
“Sometimes listening is all someone needs,” she said. “If they are a problem, I will help them find a solution. Sometimes they already know the solution. I’m here to let them know someone cares. To get them to stop living in a state of mind of flight or fear, to get them to rationalize, to get them out of trauma.
“About six years ago someone came to see me. I was able to help him leave the state so that he could reconnect with his family, ”she recalls. “A few years later, he came back to visit us. He was happy and had the love of life again. Watching a veteran or his family grow up and come out of the situation they found themselves in is what is most rewarding. Just see them smile again.
The 2021 Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down will take place on Saturday and Sunday October 9 and 10 at the Libby Armory. Watch the Daily Inter Lake for details to come, log on to www.veteransfoodpantry.org or contact Davis-Hall at 406-250-2394.
Community Editor-in-Chief Carol Marino can be reached at 758-4440 or [email protected]