Since Fort Peck Community College (FPCC) was chartered in 1978 it has changed program offerings, locations, and faces. But one thing that has never changed is the college’s commitment to community health, wellness, and success. Staff and faculty at FPCC are embedded in the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, both individually and collectively. The college is proud of its efforts to help others in several reservation communities. FPCC’s 2016 service project, for example, has started a large garden at the New Life Mission as well as a mini-park area for the homeless to cookout, play basketball, and to just enjoy themselves.
Another, more personal project in which FPCC staff, faculty, and especially students take pride is caring for one of their elders, Kathy Roundface, who is raising several of her grandchildren. Until recently, Roundface had no home for her family and struggled to survive for over a year, braving eastern Montana’s brutally cold winter.
Roundface graduated from FPCC with an A.A. degree and was working towards a bachelor’s degree in business administration when she lost her home. Once FPCC students, faculty, and staff heard of her struggle, they approached the college’s administration about helping the family move into a vacant house next to campus. School officials decided that since the structure was right next to FPCC’s Poplar campus, the college could expand by buying the property. Accordingly, FPCC purchased the house, which at the time had no heat or running water, for $6,000 and proceeded to sign the title over to Roundface. It was the dead of winter when student and staff volunteers helped move the family into their new home. Since the family had very few belongings and because the house was in great need of repair, FPCC staff, faculty, and students in the college’s building trades program helped refurbish the structure, focusing on the bedrooms and bathroom. The group spent a week painting, sewing, and building. They constructed bunkbeds for the children, fashioned bedding, and even built a study area since the two girls were homeschooled and had no area to do their schoolwork.
This project, like so many others, shows how the volunteer spirit is alive and well at FPCC. Faces and programs may change, but helping those in need remains at the core of the tribal college community.