Building community through advocacy, growth and connection
By Taylor Shillam
Photo Courtesy of Kim Haworth
The Paradise Valley Grange Hall #389 was established in 1945 with the purpose of promoting positive changes within the community. Since then, it has impacted the lives of many who were lucky enough to grow up in Paradise Valley.
Those positive changes continue today thanks to a community dedicated to its revival. With memberships growing, more events scheduled, and a focus on continued growth while fostering the tight-knit, supportive groups granges were created for, the Paradise Valley Grange is on track to becoming better than ever.
A grange is a social organization that encourages families to band together and promote the economic and political well-being of the surrounding community and its agriculture. Founded after the Civil War in 1867, the grange is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope.
Nationally, granges have strong history in grassroots activism, community service and family values, acting as “America’s premier nonprofit, nonpartisan, fraternal organization that advocates for rural America and agriculture, and brings rural communities together,” according to the founding organization. Across the state, granges serve based on the values they were founded on: faith, hope, charity and fidelity, with involvement in food pantries, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, and supporting groups like the FFA and 4-H.
There used to be several granges in Boundary County; now, the Paradise Valley Grange is the only one that remains.
“Last year I received word that the Grange could possibly be ready to shut its doors,” said Kim Haworth, representative for the Paradise Valley Grange. “They were down to just a handful of numbers.”
She started engaging with community members to save the Grange—and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“We’re now up to 45 members, with a goal of having 100 by the end of May,” she said at press time. “We have some good people here. My goal is to get some of the old events going again (dances, dance classes, Halloween parties, etc.), and add in some new ideas.”
The Grange hosted a highly successful Bingo night in May. Entire families were encouraged to attend for an evening event that included a cash pot for Bingo winners. Proud of the event’s impressive turnout, the Grange plans to continue Bingo nights into the near future as they build on their calendar of events.
With its membership growth on the rise, the Grange stays motivated with its goals for the future.
“Our goal right now is to raise money to get our building repairs done,” Haworth said, recalling the damage the building has accumulated over the years. “It needs some tender loving care.”
Another goal of the Grange draws back to its roots, as Haworth seeks to encourage everyone to get to know their neighbor again.
“With the influx of new people, no one knows each other anymore,” she said. She’s hopeful the growth of the surrounding community will translate into more opportunity for connection. “The hall is currently being used by 4-H groups, Extension Office classes, and more—and with the white church down the road, we’re hoping to draw wedding receptions our way.”
The community is already showing its strength, with members gathering regularly to contribute to community projects, including yard cleanup for the Grange itself. They hold monthly meetings and potlucks to come together to boost membership, morale and more.
The Grange is also dedicated to giving back and is working on a selection of programs to help people in need. Haworth has been in contact with a handful of local entities to determine where that help is needed most.
Charitable work is the root focus of granges across the nation, with members giving countless volunteer hours to raise funds for important causes, including local education. Haworth encourages any community members who see, hear or know of anyone in need of a helping hand to contact the Grange.
The Paradise Valley Grange is dedicated to revitalizing and supporting the facility it occupies, and the surrounding community it was created for. Through lighthearted gatherings, efforts to give back and a shared commitment to growth, the Grange is determined to continue its progress.
Together, the Paradise Valley Grange, with support from its members and the surrounding Bonners Ferry community, can have a positive impact on life as a local.
The Paradise Valley Grange encourages community members to follow along with its growth, initiatives and events on Facebook at their page titled Paradise Valley Grange #389. Any community members who are interested in joining the Grange can send them a direct message through Facebook or contact Kim Haworth directly at 208.946.0022.
The grange was established for the betterment of the community, and our local Paradise Valley Grange remains dedicated to doing just that.