Friendship House of Christian Service has been serving the Billings Southside since 1958 when the American Baptist Churches, Yellowstone Council of Churches and committed leaders organized to create a neighborhood center. They are an agency of the United Way of Yellowstone County and provide direct services to children and youth, which is one of the priority areas identified by the United Way. The mission of the program is to minister to children, youth and adults as individuals, groups and as a community. The need may be physical, social, educational or spiritual.
Angelina Kelly is a 16-year-old young lady who came to the Friendship House as a child and grew up through some of the programs. As she matured, Angelina continued to develop healthy life skills she needed to break the common cycle of defeat and despair in her life. Angelina had the ingredients that normally result in failure. Her neighborhood was full of negative elements such as drugs, violence, anger, racism, abuse and neglect.
Angelina chose not to be a negative product of her environment, and her drive and parental support is causing her to succeed. She has ambitions and wants more than to just settle and end up where many in her neighborhood do as adults. Her drive to success inspires other young girls her age to follow in her footsteps of excellence and to also become a volunteer.
Angelina did not ever abandon her friends; however, when they were involved in unhealthy choices, she chose to remove herself from their activities. She believes that everyone needs to know they have a friend that will give them good, sound advice. Her friends around her soon succumbed to her peer pressure and found themselves making positive life choices and being “role models” to other girls their age.
Angelina has been a part of “Keepers of the Hood”, which is a creative club founded to provide children with opportunities to become productively involved in their neighborhoods and their cities. Children become aware of community needs and as a group makes plans and a commitment to minister to those needs in the best ways they can for their special neighborhood. Through positive and challenging opportunities, Angelina took ownership and contributed to her community by serving others. One service project Angelina has been involved in through this program engaged 30 preschool through junior high school students to distribute over 300 pairs of mittens and hats to their neighbors in need.
Angelina has also volunteered numerous hours with her father’s Volunteer Incentive program. Her work has resulted in program’s receiving matching dollars. To date, through Angelina, $2,000 has been donated. She serves as a mentor, tutor, friend, and Junior Program helper, Teacher’s Aide and Snack and Nutrition Helper. She is also active in volunteering with her church. Angelina was honored recently with the Dominoes National Teen Volunteer of the Year Award for her tireless efforts, and she was also chosen for the 1st annual 20 Under Twenty Community Service Academics Leadership Award for Billings, Montana.