GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte, Montana Commission on Community Service Chair Kevin Myrhe, and the Governor's Office of Community Service Director Sarah Sadowski presented five people and two organizations with their 2021 ServeMontana Awards.
The awards were presented on June 25th in Helena. A news release says the purpose of the awards is to recognize Montana citizens, of all ages and backgrounds, who have "greatly enhanced quality of life in our state through their commitment to volunteerism and service to their community."
Here are this year's recipients:
Janell Running Wolf (Browning) has been an impactful leader in the community through her time spent helping to feed those who live on the street, buying clothing for children, and bringing dinners to the local police department and hospital. During COVID-19, she purchased food and necessities out of pocket and brought them to quarantined and isolated families. Janell also didn’t hesitate to help distribute truckloads of fresh produce to the elders in her community when they needed it most.
George McClure, Jr. (Bozeman) has served Hospice for Bozeman Health for the past two and a half decades, and his community for even longer. His dedication to service goes beyond the patients he’s helped, and through his time as a professor at MSU. George and his wife were heavily involved in campus activities and supporting students’ education. After his wife’s passing, George initiated a scholarship in her honor.
Isaac Nehring (Helena) while still in high school, has managed to hold a job, be an athlete, a Youth Justice Advisory board member, and the Executive Director of Montana Youth Action Network. Having founded and built the Montana Youth Action Network, Isaac has been growing its presence since its inception in 2019. He has worked tirelessly to engage young people on local and rural issues, advocating for progress and political understanding, as well as providing nonpartisan opportunities for civic engagement.
Brandy LaTray (Columbia Falls) serves in many different roles within her community. She is a volunteer firefighter and EMT for Badrock Fire Department, a full-time massage therapist, a part of the Parent Teacher Organization at Glacier Gateway Elementary School, and is the caretaker for her 89-year-old grandfather. Brandy collaborates with North Valley Food Bank to organize and arrange Christmas dinners for the less fortunate and sets up delivery with the fire department. Serving as the Association President, Brandy provides on scene Critical Medical Services for District Mutual Aide Firefighters.
Suzy Williams (Helena) is a highly qualified teacher, who makes a huge difference in the lives of many immigrants in Helena. Through her work at The Shop University, Suzy provides English as a second language instruction to improve the communication, career, and citizenship goals of community members. Her attention to personalized curriculum affords her students opportunities to own their own business, obtain their citizenship or driver’s license, and the ability to vote. Suzy is a cornerstone to a part of the community that is often overlooked.
Elkhorn Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) serves Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties. Members include the Salvation Army, United Way, American Red Cross, LDS Charities, Montana Conservation Corps, Helena Food Share, HOPE Dogs and the Montana Radio Network. When it came to executing a plan to use the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds to launch a large-scale, drive-through vaccination site, Elkhorn COAD volunteers enthusiastically said “Yes!”. Over 360 volunteers gave thousands of hours to direct traffic, provide coffee to volunteers, and staff the snack counter. Volunteers included youth from local Boy Scout troops. To date, over 26,000 vaccines have been given at this clinic, and people have called from all over the country to learn about the model adopted in Lewis and Clark County.
Volunteers of America Northern Rockies is a helping hand for all veterans to get back on their feet. They offer several programs designed to address the needs of our veterans and strive to provide a hand up, not a handout. The VOA works with other community resources to achieve the goal of ending veteran homelessness. Glenn Scott said, “The VOA helped save my life. They went out of their way to ensure that I had a safe, warm bed and food, and even helped to seek out employment opportunities. They then provided coaching skills and clothes for the interview process and offered transportation. The entire organization has made me feel welcome from day one.”