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Connie Huffman Honored For Her Dedication To End Violence Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath was in Conrad on Friday June 8th to honor Connie Huffman, a crime victim’s advocate, at a special ceremony at Norley Hall. Huffman is the Director of the Hi-Line’s Help for Abused Spouses program. She has worked in the victim advocacy program for more than 25 years and is responsible for developing a non-profit domestic violence program that covers Pondera, Toole, Teton, Glacier, Liberty, and Chouteau counties. Before McGrath came to the podium, Mikie Baker-Hajek, Executive Director of Victim Witness Assistance Services in Great Falls and Cascade County said, “Connie has a passion for helping people. She is very insightful and works towards establishing relationships and understands the dynamics of rural domestic violence.” Speaking to over 50 people who came to celebrate the recognition, McGrath noted, “every year my office and the Office of Victim Services recognize outstanding victim advocates around the state. This year, it is my pleasure to come to Conrad to honor a truly outstanding advocate, Connie Huffman.” He said, the recognition is well-deserved and long overdue and because of her work over the past 25 years,” thousands of Montanans lives have been changed for the better.” He noted that 25 years is a long time to be in this business. “It takes a special kind of person to be there for others day and day out, year after year.” However, letters in support of her nomination show that being there for others who were in desperate of help is exactly what she has done. Pondera County Sheriff Tom Kuka said that, while he and Connie don’t always agree on everything, “She has been here for our department every time we requested her help.” Mercy Home Coordinator Lynn Turville wrote; “Connie is available any time of the day or night to respond to victim’s needs anywhere in a six-county area.” She went on to add, “Connie has been providing services and support to victims of domestic violence for over 25 years. This is often a thankless and sometimes dangerous task. She has worked tirelessly to bring Hi-Line’s Help out of her barn into a welcoming office in Conrad.” When Hi-Line’s Help for Abused Spouses first started, it was Connie who really saw a need to be filled and set up an office in her barn. In those early days, Connie was the program. She and others like her were pioneers. “The hours were lousy and pay was even worse, the work was dangerous and a support network was non-existent,” said McGrath. But that did not deter her and a handful of women like her in communities throughout the state from reaching out to the domestic violence and sex assault victims around them. They built the programs from the ground up. They were the service provider, the fundraiser, the office manager and the trainer. “It is truly amazing what one person can accomplish with a lifetime of dedication and determination. “And 25 years later, Connie still has that same determination to make things better for victims,” said McGrath. According to Sheriff Kuka, “She pushes all of us to do the best possible for these victims.” In addition to her work in Conrad, she has become actively involved in the Montana Coalition Against Domestic ad Sexual Violence and eventually became a board member, working to make sure that rural programs had a voice in the Coalition. From the days in a drafty barn, she has seen the program grow to include four offices, a library of resources for domestic violence victims and their advocates and storage areas for items donated to the program. He noted, Connie is truly an ‘unsung hero’ who has, surprisingly, never been a recipient of this award.” “Today,” McGrath went on to add, “It is my great pleasure to correct that situation. In this extremely demanding line of work, Connie is a pioneer whose dedication, commitment and support truly set her apart.” With that, he added, “Connie, my congratulations on an exceptional career and on being Montana’s Outstanding Crime victim Advocate for 2007.” Huffman commented, “I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of my family. I had the support of them even when I had to leave in the middle of the night.” (article and photo by Buck Traxler, Independent Observer, Conrad)
This article was printed in the Independant Observer in 2007
A Non-Profit Organization Serving Victims of Abuse for Over 30 Years in North Central Montana