Missoula-made gear benefits women, workers over 55

Elizabeth Kester is turning 80 soon, but she’s still part of the workforce in Missoula because she has to pay for housing.

There aren’t a lot of options for someone her age, but she recently found a job sewing gear for a local nonprofit. Last Wednesday she was smiling as she and other workers hunkered over their machines in a sunny, lively room in the basement of a local church.

Missoula Works Sewing Ventures is an initiative of the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative. The program provides employment opportunities for people who struggle in the traditional job market, such as people over age 55, people with physical limitations or parents who need a flexible schedule.

The workers are making gear like fanny packs, backpacks, sling bags and tote bags designed by retired smokejumpers.

Deanna Tyler sews pieces of fabric around a buckle at Missoula Works Ventures location on the south side of Missoula on Wednesday.


“I worked at the costume shop at the University (of Montana) for 11 years and I worked in Germany in a clothing factory making military uniforms

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