November 30, 2015

Celebrating Hometown Heroes

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

We all know people who make good things happen in our communities.  They prepare meals for families overcoming illnesses.  They welcome home returning veterans.  They find the resources to open libraries.  They pay attention, ask questions and dedicate time to making others' lives easier.  The Idaho Hometown Hero Medal honors the actions of some of the many Idahoans who make a difference and inspire others.

Through Congressional Record Statements, I have had the opportunity to help congratulate the award recipients.  This year, ten Idahoans from communities across our state are 2015 Hometown Hero Medal recipients.  Marianna Budnikova, of Boise, started two nonprofits to help girls take part in technology and pursue related careers.  Carrie French, of Caldwell, was awarded posthumously for her courageous service to our nation.  She enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of nineteen and died serving bravely in the Iraq War.  Tiara Lusk, an ex-policewoman from Sugar City, started initiatives to help women who are victims of domestic abuse and started a training program to help women enlist in the police force.   

Sylvia Medina, an Idaho Falls businesswoman, works to empower women.  John Rauker, an anti-drug campaign advocate, rescues at risk children and opened drug rehab centers for teens.  Maria Sanchez, from American Falls, is an Idaho State University student who has excelled in soccer.  Donna Scroggins, of Ririe, has dedicated many years to service.  She is a World War II veteran who also served as a Peace Corp volunteer and nurse.

Judge Norman Randy Smith, of Pocatello, has served with distinction on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth the Circuit and is significantly involved with education and empowering students.  Carmen Stanger, of Boise and Pocatello, channeled the loss of her daughter to bullying to leading anti-bullying efforts and working to empower teens and prevent similar tragedies in other families.  Pastor Jacqualine Thomas, of Pocatello, grew the church she started from a congregation of three to more than 200.  She is actively involved in helping people in the community and providing a safe haven for those who are struggling. 

Drs. Fahim and Naeem Rahim, of Pocatello, established the Idaho Hometown Hero Medal to recognize individuals who embody the spirit of philanthropy while showing remarkable commitment in both their personal and professional lives.  The medal has been presented for five years.

In Idaho, we do not have to look far to find great people doing significant work to help others.  Our communities brim with folks who strive to ease the burden of other people.  They are inspiring other acts of kindness through their service.  Celebrating Hometown Heroes, including those unrecognized, is an honor as we work for the betterment of our communities. 

 # # #

Word Count:  449