This past Saturday evening, Bridgercare hosted its 32nd annual Sweet Tooth Ball — a fundraising event to support the non-profit family-planning clinic. As one of the largest organizations of its kind in Montana, Bridgercare provides service to thousands of patients, filling an important role in a city that hosts no Planned Parenthood facility.

With only 18 percent of funds coming from federal grants, Bridgercare depends heavily on donations. One unique feature of the clinic is its affordability. “Bridgercare operates on a sliding-scale income-based payment method,” explained Stephanie McDowell at the event, the organization’s executive director.

While the main purpose of the Sweet Tooth Ball was to raise funds, the event also featured catered food, sweets and drinks, as well as live music and a silent auction. Guests dressed in formal evening attire also enjoyed a variety of presentations explaining the variety of services offered by Bridgercare.

A majority of the presentation time was spent on various sketches performed by members of the Teen Clinic, a group of high school students who educate their peers about sexual health and empower them to make healthy relationship choices. The service is free and confidential, and offers a safe environment for attendees to talk openly about somewhat uncomfortable topics.

The large turnout at the event offered a promise of continued affordable family planning healthcare in Bozeman. “Considering the current administration’s views on reproductive health,” said an unnamed speaker in the evening’s promotional video, “Bridgercare is needed now more than ever.” All promotions aside, the event garnered considerable community support, with 28 local companies involved as official sponsors.

Bridgercare’s mission is straightforward. As stated in the organization’s promotional video: “It is affordable, it is quality healthcare, and it is open to all.”

To support the organization, visit the Bridgercare website at bridgercare.org/waystohelp.