BOZEMAN — Nine months ago, Paul Van Lierop had an idea that brought him back to something that he loves: technology.
That started bozemanstrong.org, which helped link together not only businesses in Bozeman but in Belgrade, as well, as well as the rest of the county.
“Go out there. Find that person,” Van Lierop says. “Find that giving tree.”
That’s what got Paul Van Lierop started back in March, back when challenges of COVID-19 first reared their heads.
“For me, personally, at an emotional standpoint, it was super helpful to have some way that I could give back to something that I really had no control of, overall,” Van Lierop says.
MTN’s Cody Boyer met Paul at his home in the website’s early days.
In just three days back then, “Bozeman Strong” already had more than 130 businesses making up its spiderweb.
It’s now December.
To Paul, the website served its purpose.
Today, we counted at least 300 businesses on the website before we lost count.
Even now, posts on Facebook say a lot, mostly things like simply: “Thank you, Paul.”
“It warms my heart to hear that it is still useful to people,” Van Lierop says. “I know over time my usage graphs, they fade off but there are still people who are coming to the site. Everybody needs to update their hours in there. Shoot me an email. We’ll get several hundred emails and we’ll get that updated.”
Which some have already started to do.
The website is still live and Paul says it could serve as a hub for any business anytime, without a pandemic to inspire it, looking at at least one Christmas reference to inspire himself...
“One that I always come back to that is not as loved as others is ‘Scrooged’ with Bill Murray,” Van Lierop says. “In the end, he has that kind of transformational moment where he is just riffing and talking about things that you can do, call somebody, give somebody a sandwich, reach out to that person that you haven’t talked to in a long time and it’s really that. It’s the ability to help this community that is so loved.”
Paul says it is as easy as it has been for the last nine months:www.bozemanstrong.org