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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2012

Western Montana Heart Gallery to feature five new children

WHO:             Child and Family Services Division (CFSD), Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS)

WHAT:          Western Montana Heart Gallery photo display featuring five Montana youth in foster care

WHEN:          1 p.m., February 14, 2012

WHERE:       Southgate Mall, Missoula
The display will be set up near the main mall entrance next to the clock tower.

The Western Montana Heart Gallery photo display featuring five youth in foster care from Hamilton and Polson will re-open at 1 p.m. Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at the Southgate Mall.

“The Western Montana Heart Gallery has been a successful vehicle to help place children with a forever family,” said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. “There is no better feeling in the world than to see the joy on a child’s face when they are placed in a permanent home. I encourage everyone to stop by and visit the new Heart Gallery and help spread the word.

The gallery will feature professional portraits of five hopeful youth, including three boys and two girls between the ages of 10 to 15, who are living in foster placements and eligible for adoption. Each photo will be accompanied by a youth brochure giving information about that particular youth and a contact number for more information. The children are from the communities of Hamilton and Polson.

According to DPHHS Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) regional administrator Nikki Grossberg, the gallery will be on continuous display.

Grossberg said the idea is to expose the potential adoptees to the thousands of shoppers who regularly visit the mall. CFSD tends to have
a harder time finding permanent homes for older children, in part because of misperceptions of parenting older children who have been in
care, she said.

The Western Montana Heart Gallery first opened in October 2010 and featured six children and five of those children have been placed in permanent homes. The first Heart Gallery in Montana went on display in Billings at the Rimrock Mall in February 2009 featuring six youth and continues to feature children today.
“Montana Heart Galleries continue to be a tremendous success,” Grossberg said. “Adoptive homes have been found for over 90 percent of the youth featured in the gallery.”

Grossberg said that in the Western Region of Montana about 80 youth from 0-18 are waiting for adoption at any time and of those 42 youth are ages 10 to 18.

There are 354 foster children in the seven-county CFSD Western Region, which includes Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral, Lake, Flathead, Sanders and Lincoln counties. There are 221 licensed foster families in the western region. Between July 2010 and June 2011, families adopted 66 foster children in western Montana, compared to 184 adoptions statewide.

The first Heart Gallery opened in 2001 in New Mexico. Heart Galleries are a national effort to raise awareness about children in foster care who are eligible for adoption and the need for adoptive families.  Since then, galleries have popped up in public settings throughout the United States. 

Local businesses that have donated their services include:

  • Southgate Mall, site host
  • Dillards, clothing, makeup, haircuts
    Contact: Della Wilson
  • Crackle Photography, portraits
    Contact: Crackle Bingham
  • Boyce Lumber, materials and supplies for Heart Gallery Exhibit frame
    Contact: Steve & Amber Boyce
  • Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, brochures and lunch for children
    Contact: Leslie Martin
  • Shane Heupel, Lead Builder of Heart Gallery Exhibit frame
    Contact: Shane Heupel
  • Industrial Lighting, Electrician donated lighting
  • Luella Design, graphic art for youth brochures
    Contact: Stephanie Lambert
  • Custom Digital Imaging, portrait printing
    Contact: Gale Johnson
  • L.A. Design, frame assembly & portrait mounting
    Contact: Lynne Himes
  • Lynn Vosler Architecture, supplied architectural plans for Heart Gallery Exhibit frame
    Contact: Lynn Vosler

Other consultation provided by:

  • Billings Heart Gallery Coordinator, consultant
    Contact: Julie Koerber
  • Heart Gallery Founder
    Contact: Diane Granito from Santa Fe, New Mexico
Page last updated: 07/30/2013