DOJ: News Release

Bullock Honors Three Montanans with Outstanding Mentor and Afterschool Provider of the Year Awards

Bullock Honors Three Montanans with Outstanding Mentor and Afterschool Provider of the Year Awards

Attorney General Steve Bullock this week presented awards to three individuals whose involvement is making a positive difference in the lives of children in Montana.

“When you look beyond the comic-book culture, the true superheroes among us are the individuals who give the most, who work tirelessly to make their communities stronger, and who, through their efforts, make the lives of others richer and happier,” Bullock said. “The three people I presented awards to this week are all true heroes.”

Bullock created the Afterschool Provider of the Year and Montana Mentor of the Year awards in 2010 to recognize the outstanding individuals who have a profound impact on our communities by virtue of the time and energy they give to keeping children safe and growing in positive directions.

Brian Dennis of Billings was awarded the Afterschool Provider of the Year award for his efforts to improve the availability and quality of afterschool care for young Montanans.

Dennis has worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Yellowstone County for the past eight years, first as program director of the Lockwood Club. He now oversees all four local clubhouses and all aspects of business operations. These clubhouses serve 1,470 members, or about 700 members on any given day.

Dennis was instrumental in establishing the club’s fourth location at Bench Elementary School, and recently worked with the Billings Public Schools to create a new program called Homework BOOST. Through this new initiative, BGC staff go to two local middle schools to provide after school homework assistance to kids who need a little extra help.

Click here to read a Billings Gazette story on Dennis’ award.

John MacDonald of Helena was named as one of two Mentors of the Year for 2012. MacDonald, a former longtime AP reporter and editor who now owns his own consulting firm, began mentoring as an 18-year-old college student at the University of Montana. Over the past three decades, MacDonald has mentored five Little Brothers.

MacDonald was nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena executive director Marie Logan, who called John “a superb example” of what a great mentor should be.

“John is consistent and dependable. He accepts the responsibility of mentoring a child and commits to being a role model, and friend, for life,” Logan said.

In addition to mentoring, MacDonald has also volunteered for Helena’s CASA program, which provides trained volunteers who serve as advocates for abused, neglected and abandoned children in court. While in North Dakota, he helped create a safe house for divorced or separated parents to exchange their children during visitation. As a board member of the Helena Big Brother Big Sisters program, he has lent his time and talent to strengthening the organization, creating a marketing plan that is helping the program grow to meet the ever-increasing need for mentors.

Click here to read an Independent Record story about MacDonald’s award.

Janel Morgan, a real estate broker in Butte, was also awarded a Mentor of the Year award. Bullock noted that Janel first met her Little, Leigha, when she was a school-based mentor at West Elementary School and Leigha was a shy first grader.

“That was a decade ago and they are still the best of friends – despite going through the difficult middle-school years together,” Bullock said. “Helping their Littles navigate the obstacles life puts in their way is an important part of what being a Big is all about.”

Janel is also board president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte, and has served as the program’s secretary and vice-president.

“She has worked tirelessly in the promotion of Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Butte Silver-Bow chief executive Paul Babb wrote, “and her ability to raise funds and recruit volunteer mentors is unsurpassed.”

Click here to read a Montana Standard story about Morgan’s award.

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