Updated: Jun 8
The buzz of summer is in the air! The excitement that comes along with sunshine, longer days, and adventures is contagious. I hope you can get out and enjoy all that our great state has to offer this summer. I am fortunate that in my position, I travel around Montana to visit with AWARE employees and partners. While driving recently, I had time to reflect on the first half of the year. I feel truly humbled to not only live in and call this remarkable state home, but also to do the work alongside the best caregiving team in the state, to help our fellow Montanans live independent lives.
The 2023 Legislature recently wrapped up their initial work in Helena. There were many bills that will impact AWARE and the services we provide. As it stands currently, HB2, which would provide much needed funding for behavioral health at a time when there have been historic increases to costs without the rate increases to match, has not been sent to Governor Gianforte yet. I appreciate the work of our Legislature regarding funding for home - and community-based Medicaid services. I trust that the governor and our state health department understand the behavioral health pressures on our communities and will do what is right for Montana.
We are grateful to Representative Dave Beady for sponsoring HB 171, and to Montana’s Office of Public Instruction and Governor Gianforte for supporting and signing it into law. This bill provides tuition payments for kids attending school at AWARE’s Larry P. Noonan Center for Excellence in Anaconda, Montana. By doing so, it allows Montana children to stay in Montana and experience opportunities to live, learn, and play in a supportive environment.
As we navigate our path forward and learn more about the immediate and long-term impacts, I will continue to update you.
Now, on to the fun stuff. It has been a busy start to 2023, with no slowdown in sight, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
June 14-16 we will host AWARE’s 2023 Corporate Congress in Butte. Nineteen delegates representing all AWARE’s service lines and communities will gather to collaborate on bills designed to help guide the overall management of our organization and strategic plan. Corporate Congress is unique to AWARE and one of many things that makes me proud to lead this great organization. I am eager to engage with the delegates and excited to share more about the session when it is all said and done.
As part of the Corporate Congress festivities, we will host our annual employee awards banquet. The banquet will take place on Thursday, June 15. Each year we recognize 10 employees, nominated by their peers, who embody one (or many) of our Unconditional Care Principles. Additionally, we celebrate someone we serve with the Independent Spirit Award, recognize an invaluable community partner with the George Groesbeck Award, and finally, honor AWARE’s Employee of the Year. The banquet is always inspiring and a great reminder of the incredible team we have. I invite you to watch the banquet live on AWARE’s Facebook page beginning at 6 p.m. on June 15.
And finally, while we are in Butte, we have a party planned to celebrate 25 years of Early Head Start in Butte. Twenty five years making an impact on the lives of children and their families in the community is no small feat. We invite you to join us on June 14 from 4-6 p.m. at our Early Head Start Center, located at 237 E. Mercury in Butte. This event is open to the public – join us to learn more about the work we do and to celebrate 25 years making a difference in Butte!
It takes a great team to make such a profound and sustainable impact. I thank and congratulate everyone who has played a role in AWARE’s Early Head Start programs in Butte and across the state over the years. I also thank the community of Butte for opening their arms to welcome AWARE and the services we provide. We are proud and honored to be community partners. We look forward to our time in Butte to kick off the summer.
Wishing you the best,
Matt Bugni - CEO