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Public Employees Honored for Stellar Work

Cecil B. Crawford
Cecil B. Crawford
April 24, 2012

HELENA, Mont. - Dedication and hard work are being honored by MEA-MFT, Montana's largest union. Four "Members of the Year," all public employees, have been named, and the winner's list includes a Native American who is a mentor and tutor for high school students in Missoula and Seeley Lake.

The honoree, Cecil B. Crawford, is an education support professional credited with helping many students stay in school and graduate. He says it's all about an adult taking time to show he cares.

"When they come from the rez, they go through a culture shock. I mean, a lot of people don't understand it, but back home we're not a minority."

He says he feels tremendous pride when he sees students who once felt invisible get involved in student government, band, and sports, and especially when he sees them graduate.

Shannon Bender is a family advocate at Cascade County Head Start in Great Falls, and her name is on the list of honorees this year. She says while many people know Head Start gets low-income preschoolers ready for kindergarten, it really goes beyond that.

"We work with the whole family and we provide resources and referrals. We help them set goals, and encourage them and help them to try to break that cycle of poverty."

Kari Cargill and Sandy Osborne are also honorees for 2012. They are co-presidents of the new Associated Faculty of Montana State University-Bozeman. Cargill teaches microbiology and has been a non-tenured faculty member for 20 years.

"We all are trying to make everyone understand the union is all of us together, and it's that it's not just a handful of people."

Sandy Osborne, who teaches family and consumer sciences, says the bargaining and ratification of their first contract is a milestone for faculty.

"Our phone calls are even increasing as they come to realize that they have a voice, and they have a voice in areas that they didn't have a voice in before."

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT