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“Helping others brings me joy!”

This was the response I received from a young woman when I asked if it had been difficult raising her siblings as she was so young herself. If I ask a student to tell me “what do you consider your greatest strengths?” I will invariably hear some version of the same. Helping others brings me joy.

This will not surprise anyone who lives in this valley and is paying attention. Our students and the work they do in our community is woven literally into the very foundation of where we all live.

Just ask the family living in the Habitat for Humanity House or go to campgrounds in the Bitterroots and you will see that Trapper carpenters, welders and masons had already gotten their first—neighbors helping neighbors—and learning marketable job skills in the process. There is substantial evidence that gratitude and helping others helps the giver, but there is no need to tell our students that — indeed giving back is just part of the day in the life of being a student at Trapper Creek Job Corps.

Welding, culinary arts, office administration, carpentry, facility maintenance, electrical, masonry, natural resources and painting — Trapper Creek Job Corps students are out there serving our community.

Here is a partial list of some of the places you might have seen or experienced the volunteer work of the Trapper Creek Job Corps: the fairgrounds, the Bitterroot College, Hamilton School District, Darby School District, Darby Rodeo, the City of Hamilton, Apple Days, Emma’s House, Summit Leadership, SAFE, Linda Massa Youth Home, Darby Community/Sula Rural Fire Department, Ravalli Veteran Services, BackCountry Horsemen, Ravalli County Search and Rescue, Habitat for Humanity, The American Legion, Darby Civic Group, Bitterroot Special Olympics and Hamilton City Works.

Additionally, Trapper’s work in fire suppression and support totaled at 68,621 hours in the year 2018 alone and with an appraised value in labor of $390,000.

Now Trapper Creek Job Corps is in danger of being transferred to a private corporation. This would substantially curtail the amount of public works currently being performed voluntarily by Trapper Creek Job Corps students.

I think it is important to know the truth which is that Trapper is not an underperforming center as those who are proposing this transfer have stated.

In fact, Trapper is often in the top five in the nation and currently sits in eleventh place. You may already know how invaluable Trapper Creek Job Corps students are to our community because everywhere I go to talk to people about this threat I hear different takes on the same refrain; “we couldn’t do our event without them!” “they help us every year!” “we love them!” and my current favorite “how can we help?” I am so glad you asked.

You can help Trapper Creek Job Corps keep doing the good work they have been engaged in for over 50 years. It is simple and only takes a minute. Go to Regulations.gov by July 01, 2019 11:59 PM ET, type in Docket ID: ETA-2019-0003 in the search bar. You will then see “Job Corps Center Proposal for Deactivation: Comments Requested.” Press on “comment now,” begin your comment with the words —"Commenting on Docket ID: ETA-2019-0003” — and then make your voice heard. This is your opportunity to tell your story of why Trapper Creek Job Corps is invaluable to our community. Please ask them to keep the CCCs with the USDA.

You can also help by calling Sonny Perdue at 202-720-2791, Alex Acosta at 202-693-6000, Senator Tester at 202-224-2644, Senator Daines at 202-224-2651, or Representative Gianforte at 202-225-3211 and let them know your thoughts. I hope you see the value in this program as I do and will ask them to keep the CCCs with the USDA.

I told the students recently that amidst all this uncertainty, there is one thing I know for sure; “this community loves you and appreciates all you do.” Now it is our turn to demonstrate how much we support them — please comment, call and write. Thank you for reading and thank you in advance for supporting this wonderful organization!

— Laura Wathen, Hamilton

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