The Shining Honor Project cleaning veteran headstones in Montana

Shining Honor Project expanding to Montana next Spring

Shining Honor Project expanding to Montana next Spring

  • Shining Honor Project will partner with Flathead Industries, Lighthouse Christian Home, and Whitefish Community Foundation.
  • Together they will provide job opportunities for developmentally challenged individuals while honoring American service members and their families.
  • Shining Honor Project provides job funding for developmentally challenged individuals to clean and restore headstones belonging to military veterans and their spouses at wages that exceed the minimum wage.

Less than 25 percent of Montana residents living with a cognitive disability are able to find jobs according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Young adults living with disabilities are three times more likely to live in poverty and have more than twice the unemployment rate than those the same age without a disability.

Addressing these issues for Flathead Valley, Montana, area residents is a new organization called Shining Honor Project.

Their twofold purpose is to provide employment opportunities for adults with developmental challenges while honoring American service members and their families at the same time. Starting next spring, Shining Honor Project will partner with local organizations Flathead Industries, Lighthouse Christian Home and Whitefish Community Foundation.

Through these partnerships, Shining Honor Project will be funding employment opportunities for developmentally challenged individuals to clean and restore headstones belonging to military veterans and their spouses.

It is the mission of Shining Honor Project to honor those who have endured enormous sacrifices for the country while providing jobs for those who desperately need them.

Shining Honor Project originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in April 2017. In a partnership with the nationally recognized Gatesway Foundation, Honor Team members have already cleaned more than 2,500 headstones in three Tulsa cemeteries.

The Shining Honor Project has been a fantastic program for Gatesway Foundation clients according to Gatesway Foundation Interim President Gloria Morton. By having jobs such as these, Honor Team members are able to look forward to their days and to their tomorrows.

“Giving our clients the opportunity to go to work, earn a paycheck and become increasingly independent has made a difference in their lives,” she said. “You can tell by the smiles on their faces that they enjoy their time with Shining Honor.”

In 15 years as a Gatesway Foundation client, Billy had never had a job because of his level of disability and lack of cognitive ability. When he was approached about becoming an Honor Team member, he was ecstatic.

He was so proud to have a job, that he insisted on sleeping in his Honor Team orange safety vest. His face beamed with pride when he received his first paycheck.These jobs give Shining Honor Project’s Honor Team members an added sense of purpose, pride and value to their lives.

There’s something therapeutic and peaceful about sitting down and taking a headstone that’s aging, stained and covered with moss and making it shiny once again. It’s the organization’s purpose to help enrich the lives of their neighbors through fulfilling employment that also serves to better the community.

In addition, Honor Team members earn income that exceeds the minimum wage, providing much-needed income to help cover their basic essentials. Many Gatesway Foundation clients receive as little as $50 per month of government assistance. But, perhaps most importantly, participants are able to work and develop skills that will prove invaluable in a wide-range of “real world” situations.

One hundred percent of the Shining Honor Project donations go directly to partnering organizations and Honor Team members with the help of the Whitefish Community Foundation. All donations are requested to be made to the Whitefish Community Foundation for the Shining Honor Project and are 100 percent tax deductible. WCF serves as an additional resource to help oversee the distribution of funds to Honor Team members through their caregiving agencies.

In addition, the Shining Honor Project has obtained private funding to pay for all Project overhead and expenses through 2018. No overhead or administrative costs are paid by donors.
Donors can have confidence that gifts donated through Whitefish Community Foundation in the name of Shining Honor Project are going into the hands of those who need it most.

For more information go to or to schedule an interview regarding the Shining Honor Project call Erin Wambold at (918) 317-3486 or email her at

Additional information about our partnering agencies.

The Whitefish Community Foundation established in 2000, to inspire philanthropy and build endowment funds, offers several grant programs to support local nonprofits, and a Donor Advised Fund program that brings millions of dollars of charitable support into the Flathead Valley every year. The Foundation partners with 24 nonprofit organizations to build sustainable funding through the Permanent Endowment Fund Program. Growing local endowments is central to the core of the Foundation’s purpose.

Lighthouse Christian Home & Services is an interdenominational, non-profit organization committed to providing life-long care for adults with developmental disabilities. The Lighthouse is a farm-based facility located on 40-acres with spectacular views of the mountains. The residents are involved in a variety of daily chores, including feeding and watering the small herd of Miniature Herefords, caring for chickens, collection and cleaning eggs, feeding household pets and numerous domestic tasks.

Flathead Industries is a nonprofit organization established in 1974. Currently, they support more than 100 individuals with disabilities each year. They provide individualized support for each person to reach their maximum independence and community inclusion. Their mission is to create opportunities for people with disabilities. Programs provide recreational activities, transportation, day work services, residential living, community employment, medical assistance and much more.