VC Residents Honored For Volunteerism
July 8, 2020
Money might make the world go round, but volunteers are what keep Valley County going. Two of those volunteers were recently recognized by Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock with 2020 ServeMontana Awards. Twyla Anderson, of Opheim, and Norm Girard, of Glasgow, were among the six Montanans honored this year.
According to the Governor's press release, "Honorees represent the best in positive change through service, volunteerism, innovation, and community leadership." Anderson and Girard selflessly meet that criteria. Both are stalwarts of their communities.
The Governor's press release notes that Girard "doesn't consider what he does 'volunteering.' He simply notices what needs attention in the community, finds people to help if he needs to, and gets the job done." The Courier encountered Girard during the MonDak year-end girls softball tournament raking the fields between games. When asked what he thought about being recognized, he stated he "may have heard something about it," before heading out to see what around the park needed attention, whether it was fans and friends, or the fields.
Girard's recognition from Governor Bullock noted that he dedicates his time to local schools and youth athletics and also performs community service such as shoveling snow, helping with yard work and repairs, as well as picking up litter and painting houses. He also gives his time working with the military to refinish the jet in front of the Valley County Pioneer Museum.
Nikki Taylor, of Opheim, nominated Twyla Anderson for the award, highlighting Anderson's involvement in all areas of the Opheim School and with the town's youth. Anderson, a standout basketball player for the Vikings in her day, now coaches jamboree, junior high and varsity basketball and also drives the team buses. She is recognized as an active school board chair, who also helps with pep assemblies and the Business Professionals of America club.
"I was actually in the checkout line at the grocery store when I received a call from the Governor's Office," Anderson told the Courier. "Well, I was very surprised, as it just came out of the blue, but I certainly felt honored to be selected for this award."
She is quick to share credit with her friends and community, saying, "We have so many people that volunteer their services to keep Opheim successful, and I am just one piece of the puzzle." In talking about the Opheim Youth Organization, the nonprofit she was recognized for founding, she said, "Let me first say that I helped organize Opheim Youth Organization ("OYO") but was certainly not the brainchild. That would be Jody Mason." OYO was established to benefit all the youth in Opheim, providing items for the classroom and tuition assistance for preschool.
Smaller towns across Montana and the country struggle for funds for schools and activities. Too often, it falls on community leaders to fill the gaps where state and federal funding fall short. Fortunately for the town of Opheim, Anderson is one of those leaders.
Anderson is most proud of the positive results her efforts have yielded for the rural town. "I moved back to this community a little over 20 years ago and I am one of many who has volunteered their services so that Opheim can offer as much as it can, despite the obstacles we face because of our location," she told the Courier. "I feel Opheim is in a good position now and especially the school, which I personally think is stronger than, say, five years ago."
An awards ceremony and luncheon was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 directives, but was replaced with an online recognition available at serve.mt.gov/ServeMT/awards.