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Libby man honored by state health department

by The Western News
| April 30, 2024 7:00 AM

Libby's Bob Weber was among a group of foster parents, child protection workers, youth and non-profit organizations honored earlier this month at the annual Montana Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference in Great Falls.

The event, held on April 9, was sponsored by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Weber was among a number of northwest Montana residents who were recognized, including those from Kalispell, Bigfork and in Mineral County.

Weber and Jonathan Butler of Helena each received the Resiliency Award. They display qualities that foster a supportive and positive work environment and embody a healthy work/life balance. 

DPHHS and the Montana Children’s Trust Fund representatives recognized individuals and organizations from Great Falls, Billings, Kalispell, Dillon, Missoula, Libby, Bigfork, and Helena.

“This conference is designed to celebrate and build upon the invaluable partnerships that positively impact the lives of Montana children and families,” DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton said. “The level of resilience, passion, and innovation displayed by this year’s award recipients is both impressive and inspiring. We are extremely thankful for their dedicated service.”

The list of awards includes the Jana Elliott Memorial Resource Parents of the Year. This award goes to foster/adoptive parents who are committed to excellence in working with birth parents and children in foster care and/or children who have been adopted.

The award is named after the late Jana Elliott, who served the Wolf Point community in many ways as both a licensed foster parent and a sixth grade teacher. In 2016 the Wolf Point community suffered a huge loss when Elliott tragically lost her life in a car accident while helping someone in need.

The co-recipients of this award are Great Falls resident Danyell Ocheltree and Mineral County residents Katie and Steven Thompson.

The following awards were also presented:

- The Youth Achievement of the Year award goes to foster or adoptive youths who exhibit a drive to be successful and make positive changes in their lives. The recipients are Brooklyn Nunn, Taylor Gribble, Brandon Hogan, Lizzy McCullough and Mary Jane Beaman.

- The Engaging Families in Positive Change award goes to individuals who carry out their work in a family-centered approach. The recipients are Heather Hale of Great Falls and Ashley Collins of Billings.

- The Creative Solutions Award goes to individuals who utilize creative problem-solving and resource allocation to better serve children and families. The recipients are Rhonda Bodvig of Billings and Krista Westerhold of Helena.

- The Progressive Leadership Award goes to individuals who impact positive change for Montana children and families as role models and who demonstrate a clear understanding of the agency’s role. The recipients are Jodi Black-Fucci of Kalispell and Micaela Stroop of Great Falls.

- The Practice Model Champion Award goes to individuals who demonstrate excellence in implementing the agency safety model by understanding and executing the guiding principles as the roots that assure permanency and well-being for children. The recipients are Bre Buxbaum of Billings and Leigh McCombs of Missoula.

- The Parent of the Year Award goes to parents who became involved with the child welfare system and exhibited strength, determination, and self-awareness in making positive changes for themselves and their children to overcome the conditions that prompted CFSD involvement. The recipients are Anthony Billsborough of Kalispell and Laura Sprinkle and Sean Gary of Dillon.

- The Pinwheels for Prevention Award goes to a parent or community member in recognition of their exemplary commitment to the families in their community. The recipient is Dr. Meg Eddy of Missoula.

- The Strengthening Families Award is awarded to an individual who has dedicated their career to strengthening Montana families and keeping children safe from abuse and neglect. The recipient is Sarah Volesky of Helena.

- The Service to Children Award is in recognition of our outgoing board members for their commitment and support of work to prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen families. The recipients are Teresa Kennedy of Bigfork and Elizabeth Siblerud of Kalispell.