Our new blog series, The Many Hats of Stockman, introduces you to people who lead interesting lives both inside and outside of Stockman. Those who give of their time and talents to their communities are the back bone of our great state.
Bret Carpenter, the President of our Lewistown bank, is a cornerstone in his community.
Bret is the type of person who doesn’t wait around for change to come, instead he gets involved. Lewistown which is located in the center of the state and surrounded by the Judith, Little Belts, and Big Snowy Mountain ranges, faces similar challenges to many rural Montana communities: attracting and keeping businesses that support the local economy, an aging population, and an outflow of young adults.
Bret is someone who wears many hats. When asked what he does for “fun” when he is not in the bank, what he said was eye-opening, to say the least. He’s a volunteering machine! Here are just a few of the hats he wears:
CENTRAL MONTANA MEDICAL CENTER BOARD MEMBER:
“Growing up here, I have had numerous needs for local health care as a kid, parent, and adult. It seems like they know us on a first name basis! As the area’s largest employer, I also know several employees there, and felt honored to be invited to join the board of directors… something I always wanted to consider if asked. Getting to know some of the providers also made me realize the expectations they are under and have for the general good of our community that many are unaware of. Without a hospital in a community, it would be difficult to attract new families, employers, retirees, etc. to this area. Keeping an open hospital is critical to our community’s viability. I am currently on the Finance Committee.”
FERGUS COUNTY PORT AUTHORITY BOARD MEMBER:
“I have been on this board a long time… since it started nearly 20 years ago (got off for a while when I was ‘termed out’). I am currently the chair, and we focus on growing economic development in Fergus County. As a volunteer board, with no real budget or assets, it is difficult to accomplish much without the help of the general community and other entities. We are working on workforce issues, business park finalization, and recruiting a new business to Lewistown that may create nearly 60 jobs. Our board is from the private sector.”
CENTRAL MONTANA FOUNDATION:
“I was invited to this board in recent years, along with other volunteers. Monthly, we review requests from area groups for financial support, funded by the earnings we receive from past donations and endowments left under our care. There is never enough money to go around, but good causes typically receive some sort of financial award from us, assuming they are eligible. We also fund area scholarships to graduating high school seniors, and existing college students.”
Bret summed up our visit with these words of wisdom: “I believe the above groups do make a difference, and if no one volunteered for similar groups like these in our area, we would be just another shrinking community not trying to stay viable and vibrant. Little successes sometimes lead to bigger rewards… but may take a few years to realize them.
Lewistown has a new ‘buzz’ to it recently… more younger couples with little kids moving here (some grew up here), and finding employment. Lifestyle is a sought after asset, and found here. My kids have even told me in recent months when they return to visit that they’re proud of how Lewistown has gotten more progressive than when they grew up here. I feel this is a result partly of all the area volunteers working toward improving the community, with results finally being felt.”
We tip our hat to Bret and the many people who make our communities better places to live, work, and play.