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In: Tow Rope Heroes

Amy Peterson & Ronald McDonald House Staff / Volunteers – Missoula

Despite having to close their doors for a little while during the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Ronald McDonald House of Western Montana led by CEO Amy Peterson and her great staff still managed to help families that are having to be away from home as they seek care for their sick children. Even with the house closed, they worked with hotels in the area to set up rooms for them to stay close to the hospital and even arranged for a hot meal to be delivered or a gift card provided for a meal when needed. Once the house was able to reopen on a limited basis, the Meals that Heal program became Curbside Meals that Heal.   This small name change was key as it helped volunteers continue to recognize that meals were still needed.  From the Meals that Heal Program to Super Siblings, the RMHC of Western MT makes sure the families are taken care of. They strive to make sure they have a warm, safe and comfortable place to stay as they seek medical care for their child.

Dale Woolhiser – Missoula

Dale is an amazing advocate for Missoula. Not only does he personally support nearly every major nonprofit project in town, but he goes out of his way to educate others about opportunities to give back to their community by supporting nonprofits that work hard to make this such a special place to live. Dale is a mover and shaker to say the least. He has served on the board of Montana Community Foundation and is a founder of the Missoula Community Foundation. He is a humble man, working his way to retirement and he deserves to be recognized for his continual efforts to steer community money to worthy organizations making a big impact in our lil’ town.

Deana Becker – Lolo

Deana Becker is in a league of her own. She is the proud mother of 5 children, she has a son in the US Air Force and a son who is a police officer in Helena. A daughter with 2 beautiful children and 2 sons in school. She has taken into her home a teenage boy who had no place else to go (parents serving time).  Due to her unselfishness of opening their home this young man was able to stay in the same school district and graduate from high school. Deana was a “spiritual hiking coach” , taking young women out into the wilderness as part of a Christian based program that helps women get off of drugs and alcohol. She currently cares for her mother whom has COPD. Parents seek her out to mentor their children. It’s as if she has a direct line to God, she can pray for you and truly be in the moment… not preoccupied as so many are today. Deana does numerous volunteer work at the school where she works at and will stop on a dime to talk to a student or parent who just needs some kind words, a prayer together or a shoulder to cry on. She makes everyone who comes in contact with her know that they are special and loved and that God has a purpose for each and every one of us. She also runs the youth group at Missoula Alliance Church. We truly need more Deana Beckers in this world! She will drop everything to help anyone. I am blessed and honored to have her as a friend.

Eleanor Vizcarra – Women 4 Wellness, Ronan

Eleanor is the Co-Coordinator for Women 4 Wellness and works with the SKC Center for Prevention and Wellness.  She was a key force in starting the Women 4 Wellness event at Salish Kootenai College. This event is a resource for women (and men!) to have access to medical testing that might not have access to such.  Services provided ranged from heart checkups, mammograms, physicals to cancer screenings. In 2019, over 2000 people attended their event and received these type of services.   In the wake of 2020, they had to cancel their event but they worked to hold a smaller series of  events with the SKC Center for Prevention and Wellness to keep providing services to their community at no charge.

Emily Richardson – Missoula International School

Celebrating a 25th anniversary, MIS has raised over $6M of a $10M goal. As they near the final phases of their capital campaign the MIS community is thankful for those who contributed to making the vision a reality.

Jory Dellinger – Boy Scouts of America, Missoula

Jory should be recognized for his work with the scouting program and his efforts to raise $50M with the Mind, Body, Soul and Character Campaign.  Jory’s passion is creating opportunities for kids and bringing the community together to make those opportunities more available. His recent accomplishment includes mentorship of the inaugural class of five female Eagle Scouts in Montana. He also should be thanked for his leadership in leading scouting volunteers across Montana to keep the camp in Lewistown open during the summer of 2020.

Linda Smith – Drummond Senior Center, Drummond

Linda was nominated for her work during the pandemic at the Drummond Senior Center.  Linda led a team of volunteers in efforts to continue providing meals for area seniors who would regularly attend meals at the center prior to closing during the pandemic.  With the nearest grocery store being almost 30 miles away she knew that the center was needed more than ever at this time.

Lynn Fred – Jadyn Fred Foundation, Missoula

Lynn started the Jadyn Fred Foundation after his granddaughter passed away from cancer when she was 5 years old. Lynn realized there was a financial need for families with sick children.  One parent always had to give up a job to become a full-time caregiver as many kids with cancer must travel out of state for medical treatment. Lynn started this organization to help Montana families with travel expenses and housing. 100% of the money he raises goes to Montana families facing these financial struggles.

Matt Ellis – Vice President, Missoula Paddleheads

Matt and his team led the charge for the community to stay connected through the pandemic by creating a series of public events centered around the ballpark and raising money for non-profits through those events. Working with the Health Department to comply with all protocols, Matt helped raise $100,000 for various non-profits through events like Trivia Night, and the popular Movie Night Series, where the profits were dedicated to helping the historic Roxy Theater weather the economic downturn of the pandemic.

MeriLee Rossen Watne – Poverello Center, Missoula

MeriLee was with her father, the late great bull rider Ronnie Rossen when he was killed in the rodeo arena in ’92. That set her on a long path of addiction, despair, incarceration, and recovery. She is a great example of a Tow Rope Hero. She works at the Poverello homeless shelter saving others. She is amazing, fearless, wise, and has a heart as big as Montana. She will tell you stories of tow-roping people to sobriety, fights she has interrupted, and lives she has helped turn around.

Peter Kolb – University of Montana

Professor Kolb is an MSU extension forestry professor who provides advice from how to plant and manage your garden to how to plant and manage your woodlot. He gives advice to folks on the radio during his regular briefs on the local stations. In addition to sharing his knowledge with the general public, he directs the annual Montana Natural Resource Youth Camp at Lubrecht Experimental Forest near Missoula.  High School age youth have a chance to spend a week at the Forest with Professor Kolb and his staff to learn about soils, ecology, natural resources and participate in a variety of forestry activities. Attendees also compete in business management exercises that utilize real-life farm and ranch decisions making land management decisions.  Professor Kolb is a great resource for the citizens of Missoula and should be recognized for going beyond his regular duties to be a Tow Rope Hero, “Throwing his fellow citizens a line.”

Tom Andres – Missoula FFA

Tom started a student-run farm and processing center at Big Sky High School. Donated 5,000 pounds of pork to food bank. Now working on the “Beef up our Community” initiative to donate beef to families in need.


Additional Mentions:

Crystal spring – Smiles Across Montana

Kristen Sackett – Missoula Downtown Partnership

Marcy Allen – Missoula Community Foundation

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