Community Leadership: Sue Runkle
I recently had the opportunity to meet a most remarkable woman at an event I attended. Unassuming, humble, and sincere, Susan blew me away as she told me of the plight that she has devoted herself to--homeless students, 468 to be exact. She ensures that all of these kids are given the greatest chance to succeed that she can through spearheading and leading a collaborative effort throughout our community. Given there unique and ever changing living situation these homeless students find themselves in, Susan works to bring a sense of stability and self worth. She works with local taxis, buses, churches, non-profits, and willing servants to make sure the kids have a safe place to do their homework, food to eat, and a way to get to school each day. Thank goodness there is someone looking after these children who cares for them as if their lives depend on it. It appears as if it just might.
Educational Leadership: Margo Haak
Margo is the director and primary educator at Billings Educational Academy at 1212 Central Ave. in Billings. Her school is designed to help students who "fall through the cracks" in more traditional school settings. As an educator she has taught for over 30 years, primarily in special education. She designs a curriculum around the students' strengths and incorporates their weaknesses in such a way as to shape them into strengths also. There is a strong emphasis on character development, primarily through volunteering and giving of themselves in the community. Her students are all actively involved in working with Angel Horses, Montana Rescue Mission, Adopt a Highway, Special Olympics, and the Foster Grandparent program at Aspen Meadows. Family participation is mandatory and students, parents and siblings all work together to help instill the values of giving back to the community and of helping others. Margo and her students have been featured in Yellowstone Valley Women's Magazine and Simply Family Magazine. Margo has been recognized as "Teacher of the Year two years in a row by Post 1634 of the VFW. She has also received the "Salute to Women " award (2010) from the Billings YWCA for her contributions to the community.
Margo works hard to better the life and education of her students and to instill in them a sense of selflessness and a lifetime love of learning. She has operated the Academy for 10 years now with no salary, all her income going back into the school and towards its students. She is truly a prime example of someone who makes Billings a "better place to live by enriching the lives of people in the community".
Youth Leadership: Carter Knight
Carter is an extraordinary young man, almost 16 years of age. Carter had an idea of what it would be like to have like-minded youth serving others and volunteering in our community with no strings attached. He began a campaign of recruiting his friends and even speaking at Harvest Church one weekend. His youth service group called Serving Saturday has expanded with more and more enthusiasm in community. Today's youth, Carter feels, are really able to make a difference in the world today and to "transform teens into I.M.P.A.C.T.(Innovative Minors Pursuing Active Change Together)". Carter utilizes the social networks and technology available to most youth today to promote these opportunities and create the change he envisions, one opportunity at a time. He is truly a positive role model for people young and old, knowing that there is always a time to make a positive change in the community in which we live; and have a blast all while serving! We know Carter would grow even more in his faith and be encouraged to receive this honor.
Carter Knight founded a small youth-led organization called IMPACT - Innovative Minors Pursuing Active Change, Together. IMPACT's goal in Billings is simple, make difference in the lives of people. Under Carter's direction, IMPACT has led multiple community events including helping with the Montana Rescue Mission, and a number of elderly in the community. Carter was also influential in starting the Live2Serve Conference that was held this fall at Rocky Mountain College. Working with Parallel 49 Strategies, he helped inspire others to become better service leaders in the Greater Yellowstone Valley. Over 25 active youth were involved in the conference - many of which were in attendance because of Carter. His hard work in creating IMPACT, and his sterling reputation as a student, a leader, and a Billings resident make him more than qualified to receive the Better Billings Award.
Posted on Fri, June 24, 2011
by Chuck Barthuly filed under