Attorney General Steve Bullock on Thursday encouraged Montanans to submit nominations for two awards now in their third year. Bullock initiated the Montana Mentor of the Year and Afterschool Provider of the Year awards in 2010 to recognize outstanding individuals who have made a positive difference in the lives of children.
“The people who work with our kids in afterschool care programs or who volunteer as mentors can have a huge impact on individual kids, and on the broader community,” Bullock said. “By making sure that kids are cared for in an environment that encourages creativity and cooperation, they contribute a tremendous amount to Montana families and help keep kids focused on positive pursuits and out of trouble.”
The Department of Justice will accept nominations for the two awards until March 30 and announce the 2012 winners in April. Nominees will be evaluated based on their specific efforts related to mentoring or afterschool programs, their length of service, and the impact they have had on the lives of others.
The 2011 winners were:
- Mentor Nancy Alley, who has volunteered at the Boulder Elementary School two days each week for seven years, teaching students sewing and quilting. She also teaches quilting to students at the 21st Century Community Learning Center in Boulder, donates quilts to various community groups, and volunteers at the Boulder Community Library and the Sons of Norway.
- Afterschool care provider Helen Paulson of Helena, who in the early 1990s, created the first afterschool program for elementary students at Jefferson School in Helena. From one staff person and 20 children, Helen now supervises 11 sites that serve more than 300 children both before and after school, and another 100 kids over the summer months. She also volunteers with a number of other organizations including Youth Connections, Safe Kids Safe Communities, Montana Out of School Time, and the Montana Discovery Foundation.
- Afterschool care provider Julie Hancock of Livingston, director of the LINKS For Learning afterschool program. LINKS now has over a 100 students enrolled in the program, about half of whom are from families living at or below the federal poverty level.