The 1940s and 1950s
As with many new enterprises, our first years were marked with financial and organizational struggles. Even so, as the 1950s came to an end, a set of core programs and services had emerged that would fuel our organization’s mission through the next several decades.
Montana Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs play key role
The first official organizational meeting for what would become Easterseals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain Inc. was held in December of 1946. The district governors of the Montana Rotary Clubs and Kiwanis Clubs were the key leaders in the meeting and their partnership led to the creation of the Montana Chapter of the National Society for Crippled Children. At the meeting, a temporary chairman was elected and an officer of the National Easter Seal Society reported that they would give the newly developed Montana chapter all the support that a national society provides for its members.
Cerebral palsy clinics begin operations
After establishing the Cerebral Palsy Center at the Eastern Montana State Normal School in Billings, Montana (now Montana State University Billings) in 1948, the organization began branching out. In 1949, we began operating diagnostic clinics for cerebral palsy in Great Falls and Butte, and providing outpatient occupational therapy and bracing services at an office housed in Shodair Children’s Hospital in Helena, Montana.
Mobile speech therapy services added
In 1953, we took our first step in providing speech and hearing services by starting a summer program at Eastern Montana College serving 29 clients. Then In 1955, we began a new venture, the Cooperative Mobile Speech Therapy Program, funded by the Montana Elks Association. Initially we operated two mobile speech clinics in Havre and Billings. Three more units were added in 1957, stationed in Kalispell, Butte and Miles City.
Junior League helps establish Great Falls services
In 1953, our organization began looking at ways to expand services in Great Falls, Montana. In 1954, the Junior League of Great Falls helped put those plans in motion by working to establish programs in Great Falls. The group raised and donated $2,800 and by September of that year, a speech rehabilitation service for children and adults, as well as a volunteer nursery program, were started. A year later, occupational and physical therapy were added and a Great Falls Center was officially opened and housed at the Y.W.C.A. The Junior League of Great Falls continued to provide support into the next decade operating a volunteer preschool socialization class for handicapped children in 1960.