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For Immediate Release

Easter Seals-Goodwill honors Montana individuals and organizations

2016 Annual Awards Celebration held July 21 in Great Falls.

Great Falls, MT, July 25, 2016

Media Contact:
Chelle Fried, Community Relations Officer

Easter Seals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain Inc. held its 2016 Montana Annual Awards Celebration Thursday, July 21st in Great Falls. The following people were honored for their contribution to furthering the mission of Easter Seals-Goodwill.

2016 Community Honorees:

2016 Participant Awards:

2016 Easter Seals-Goodwill Staff Recognition:

Patrick Sullivan - Community Partner of the Year. Sullivan became involved as a community partner with Easter Seals-Goodwill’s WorkForce Development program while at the Hotel Arvon. From the very beginning he was accepting, engaged and always available, according to employment specialist Julie Nishoff. Sullivan quickly became a mentor as well as a supervisor to Jared, an Easter Seals-Goodwill participant. “Patrick encouraged Jared to make his own choices about things such as uniforms and tasks while at the same time holding him to the same standards and expectations as everyone else,” said Nishoff. “Patrick consistently went above and beyond in helping Jared strive for success; even going so far as taking the Polar Plunge with Jared to raise money for Special Olympics,” she added.

Axelson Alternative Cremation - Community Partner of the Year. “Jim Axelson of Axelson Alternative Cremation is an excellent community partner. Axelson serves on the advisory board for Easter Seals-Goodwill Highlands Hospice. He is very passionate about hospice. When working with families after losing a loved one, Jim is kind, caring and compassionate. He informs the family of everything that will happen and tells them it will be done on their time. He does not make them feel rushed in any way. This caring and compassion is what our families need most during a difficult time,” stated Klose. 

Bob Oksness – Community Partner of the Year. “Oksness has done so much for Easter Seals-Goodwill throughout the years,” stated Michelle Belknap, president and CEO of Easter Seals-Goodwill. “Last summer, he stood over a grill in the heat of summer to grill 200 hot dogs and burgers for the people we serve in Wyoming and their families,” added Belknap.  “Oksness helped during our office move to the Rex with the distribution of resources, which included many long nights and weekends of moving, boxing, dismantling, sorting and lifting,” stated Belknap. “We are so grateful to all of Bob’s hours of volunteering throughout the years,” continued Belknap.

Patrick Dudley - Family Member of the Year. “Pat is an amazing man who truly has a passion for hospice. He has been an adjunct professor of Ethics for many years at Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte and serves as the president of the National Center for Health Care Informatics on that campus. His background in hospital human resources and compliance has been a great advantage to our organization. He has been an integral part of Easter Seals-Goodwill Highlands Hospice advisory board, as well as a member of our ethics committee,” stated Roxanne Klose, assistant vice president of clinical services.

Bill and Shirley Rammer - Family Member Award. Bill and Shirley Rammer are actively engaged in all aspects of their children Andy and Mary lives. They join with the participants in many of the activities at Easter Seals-Goodwill and are always willing to lend a helping hand, according to team leader Danni Altenburg. “Wherever they see a need, the Rammers come forward to fill it, whether it is bringing in treats or replacing a radio so that music fills the center,” said Altenburg. “Bill and Shirley consistently work to create opportunities, such as art and ceramic classes at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, for not only their children, but for all people served by Easter Seals-Goodwill,” she added.

Six Easter Seals-Goodwill program participants were honored for making significant progress toward reaching milestones during 2016. Participants in Great Falls from the Goodwill store, LifeSkills, Supported Living, and WorkForce Development programs were recognized for their accomplishments. 

Kay Stewart from Supported Living received the Peer Mentor Award for her guidance in helping fellow program participants reach their own milestones.

Easter Seals-Goodwill’s SPURS award, the most prestigious of the organization’s staff awards, recognizes an employee who has consistently performed well beyond their responsibilities and directly contributes to the organization’s success. Charlie Briggs, public policy and development officer, received the 2016 SPURS award. Briggs has led public policy efforts for the organization for the past nine years, in addition to serving as a key liaison to both Goodwill Industries International and Easterseals Inc. national public policy offices. He serves on a number of key committees in Montana’s state capitol that are vital to shaping the direction of services and funding in our state including senior and long term care, autism services, transition advisory group, transit services, disability rights and provider rates committee-just to name a few says Easter Seals-Goodwill president and CEO Michelle Belknap. 

In addition, Easter Seals-Goodwill honored six other employees with awards.   Sara Hofstad from Adult Services and Jennifer Combs from the Kalispell Goodwill Store for the Customer Service Awards; Chris Nelson from LifeSkills for the Rising Star Award; Carrie Tapson from Accounting for the Support Staff Award; Patricia Maccioli from Highlands Hospice for the Safety Award; and Rachel Mosely from Supported Living for the Leadership Award.

Easter Seals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain Inc. is a non-profit organization directly serving more than 17,000 people in its four-state region, with employment and job training, community integration and housing for adults with intellectual disabilities, children’s therapy, and health-related programs for adults and seniors. Easter Seals-Goodwill provides 38 different programs in 56 locations and touches the lives of more than 28,000 people in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.

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