New partner helping Community Crisis Center keep people out of the cold

The Community Crisis Center of Billings has a new partner this winter in its efforts to keep people out of the cold. Step, Inc. is the fourth partner in the My Backyard program. Other partners include three churches: First Baptist, Billings First Congregational and First Christian.   

The Crisis Center has capacity for 45 people. On cold nights, that is sometimes not enough space.  

Program Director of the Community Crisis Center MarCee Neary said, "The last 2-3 years is when we really started seeing the needs and the capacity issues. They have started to increase within the last year, the number of nights that we are at capacity or starting to hit over capacity is increasing." 

When the 18 beds at the Crisis Center are full, people can sit in the lobby. However, when the building reaches 45 occupants, the Crisis Center can’t bring any more people in. If that happens and there aren’t enough volunteers available for the My Backyard program, people need to be triaged outside until a spot opens up in the Crisis Center. 

Last year, there were 12 nights from mid-January to April when there weren’t enough volunteers to activate My Backyard. 

Neary said they need more volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, you can call (406) 259-880 and ask for MarCee Neary. 

Neary added, "The most rewarding thing that happened last year is that when clients really caught on about the My Backyard Program, they would say, 'What do I have to do to get to the My Backyard Program?'  I would say, 'You have to be virtually sober, no alcohol on board, and you can't ever have been involved in a behavioral or incident at the Crisis Center. So, clients started working toward that. So, they started working to be sober so they could go to the My Backyard Program."