Grants fund continuing construction, new classes at The SHACK

Shayne Mazur

By applying for over 120 grants a month, The SHACK continues to make slow but steady construction progress on the new building and organize youth programs for students.

According to Executive Director David Bottom, The SHACK’s goal is to provide services for the community it doesn’t already have available.

“We’ve been pretty purposeful over the years of not duplicating what others have done,” he said.

The SHACK board acquired the building at 33 North Fifth Street, just off Greybull Avenue, in 2008 with plans to transform the larger space into a community center. The board chose the property for its central location and because it was less expensive to gut the building than build new.

Since then, construction projects have followed every two to three years when The SHACK builds up enough grant money to tackle each step of the process.

“I think what people don’t realize is that we build with cash and donations and volunteers,” Bottom explained. “We submit over 120 grants a month, and we get at best 15 to 20 grants a year… but it’s not like those 20 grants all go into the building.”

Most of The SHACK’s grants go toward programming like disc golf, performing arts events and food.

“Fifteen years and back, getting building money was easier. Everyone was flush with it…they (the government) were almost asking us, ‘Write a grant! We have this money to give away!’ Since 2008, virtually no one does building grants.”

In moving from 900 square feet of space to 6,000, The SHACK has accomplished several building goals over the years: a new sidewalk and interior concrete floors poured by Kershner Construction in 2014 and 2019, respectively; insulation work by F & R Insulation; a firewall installed by Alotta Construction in 2020; and wall frames, the building’s latest addition, courtesy of Mountain Home Works in February 2022.

“We saved up for three years and spent it in three months,” Bottom said.

The next task on deck is electrical. The project has begun but can’t be finished until further funds have been raised.

“We recognize, from a community standpoint, the length of time it’s been there,” said Bottom. “Trust me, we know.”

 The SHACK is currently in the process of reaching a finishing bid in order to apply to larger grants like the Daniels Fund. Bottom estimated the bid will fall “in the $200,000-250,000 range to finish it.”

No estimated end date for the project exists.

“Honestly, it’s really about the money. If there was a $200,000 donor, we would probably be open for business next school year.”

Looking to the future, Bottom hopes the new building will serve as a venue for youth activities and community events, with an emphasis on year-round availability.

The location would offer The SHACK’s current activities—basketball, pool, games and Virtual Reality—as well as new amenities such as a half gym, rock climbing wall and stage area for live music.

“There’s not a lot for middle/high schoolers to do. There’s less for 22-30 year olds to do in the community,” he said. The new SHACK would be “that place where you can go and do some different activities.”

Bottom also sees the new location serving as an indoor recreation opportunity for tourists and out-of-town guests—for a small fee, of course.

Most important of all, Bottom hopes the new building continues the old building’s legacy of being a safe space.

“It’s become our vision statement: ‘Help, Hope, Home.’ We want the community and we particularly want the students and families to know that The SHACK is a place where you can get help. That’s what we’re there for. 

“Hopefully the newer building can be that for that many more people.”



Thanks to more recent grant efforts, Program Director Jenn Patrick plans to introduce a series of life skills classes aimed at setting students up for success in the real world.

Patrick, who’s organized programs at The SHACK since 2011, said the idea came about when she spoke to a family member about helping girls with feminine hygiene issues.

“We do have a volunteer that started donating den mother bags with hygiene products in there. That’s grown to our life skills plans,” she said.

The two grants The SHACK has received so far will be used to fund four-week classes that cover lessons in financial literacy, basic cooking, laundry, car maintenance and job skills.

Patrick is still ironing out the details. She said the classes will likely take place in the evening or on a weekend when students are available, and her goal is to recruit volunteer experts to teach sections of the class in which they specialize.

The SHACK recently purchased a combo washer/dryer for the current building. Once installed, students who complete the class will have access to free laundry services.

Alongside serving as program director, it was announced Monday that Patrick has also been named as The SHACK’s new executive director after the board decided to merge the two positions. Bottom chose to step down after 18 ½ years with The SHACK and is “excited for what God’s going to do with The SHACK and in the community.”

Patrick is set to take over the new position within the next few months.