If you know of a community member or organization whose contributions and actions exemplify the ideas of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., please consider nominating them for a Pathfinder Awards. Nominations are due November 25, 2014. Click here to view the nomination form
Pathfinder Award recipients will be honored at the 31th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration, which will be held on Monday, January 19, 2015 in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom, on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Hors d’oeuvres and Social, followed by the presentation of the Pathfinder Awards at 6:15 p.m., entertainment will start at 6:30 p.m. followed by a presentation at 6:40 p.m. (speaker to be announced).
Three awards are presented at the banquet:
- The Pathfinder Award was created in 1986 to recognize individuals or organizations that, in the spirit of Dr. King, are initiators or action takers in the struggle for equal treatment, human rights and non-violence.
- The Young Pathfinder Award was added in 2002 to recognize the commitment and courage displayed by area young people to achieve fair and equal treatment for all, healthy communities and peaceful resolution to conflicts.
- The Business Pathfinder Award was established in 2003 and is presented by Greater Mankato Growth to recognize businesses that strive for equal treatment, human rights and non-violence in the workplace.
Tickets are $10 (10 and under free) and may be purchased in advance at: Greater Mankato Diversity Council, 10 Civic Center Plaza (385-6653), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Office of Institutional Diversity, Morris Hall #265 (389-6125), South Central College Bookstore, 1920 Lee Blvd., North Mankato (389-7221) or The Coffee Hag, 329 N. Riverfront Dr. (387-5533). Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
Learn about the 2014 Pathfinder Award Recipients
Pathfinder Award Recipient: Bev Mountain
The Pathfinder Award recognizes adults or organizations that, in the spirit of Dr. King, are initiators or action takers in the struggle for equal treatment and human rights. The award represents the ideal that all people should be treated fairly and equally without the fear of discrimination on any basis.
This year’s recipient, Bev Mountain has worked for Mankato Area Public Schools Adult Basic Education for 20+ years. As the program coordinator, Bev is responsible for leading the work of the program. The focus of Adult Basic Education and Bev’s job is to provide adults with educational opportunities to acquire and improve their literacy skills which are necessary to become self-sufficient and to participate effectively as productive workers, family members, and citizens. The program helps learners:
- Attain employment and/or better their current employment
- Achieve high school equivalency education
- Attain skills necessary to enter post-secondary education and training
- Exit public welfare and become self-sufficient
- Learn to speak and write the English language
- Master basic academic skills to help their children succeed in school
- Become U.S. citizens and participate in democratic society
- Gain self-esteem, personal confidence and sense of personal and civic responsibility
During her time as program coordinator the Adult Basic Education program has grown by 45%. During the 2012-2013 school year, the program served 986 students from 44 countries. Two examples of Bev’s work that focus on making Mankato a welcoming and successful community for all people are the bilingual medical training program and the English Language Learner Adult Diploma courses for individuals who are ages 10 – 24.
Bev has defined the Adult Basic Education program as an essential community support by developing successful partnerships with many community agencies. The FastTRAC/Adult Career Pathway work with South Central College, the digital literacy instruction partnership with MN Workforce Development and the Employment SKILL work readiness partnership with Blue Earth County are examples of her ability to seek and maintain successful partnerships which capitalize on strengths and focus on serving needs. It was also under Bev’s leadership that expanded offerings in Mankato now include programming in the areas of Family Literacy, College Prep, and distance learning coursework.
During Bev’s tenure, Mankato Area Public Schools Adult Basic Education has been honored with state-wide awards twice and as a runner-up once.
But Bev is not just focused on the programs. One of Bev’s peers summed it up best in the following quote: “The amazing thing about Bev is that she looks at the needs of people first. She is not overwhelmed by the obstacles or the details. In our (Adult Basic Education) programs she is always first concerned with the needs of the people we serve and then she figures out a way to meet that need.”
Young Pathfinder Award Recipient: Mankato East Student Council Executive Board
The Young Pathfinder Award was created in 2002 to recognize the hard work, commitment and courage displayed by area young people and organizations of young people as they strive, in the spirit of Dr. King, to achieve fair and equal treatment for all, healthy communities and peaceful resolution to conflicts.
This year’s recipient, the Mankato East Student Council, has created, organized, fund raised, and successfully implemented a program called the Mankato East Sharing Tree. Applicants anonymously file gift requests with the Counseling Office and the Student Council does its best to match these requests with the funds available.
The students exemplify Dr. King’s ideals by seeing a need to help other people and taking action to do something about the need by creating a community of students to work towards the betterment of their high school community and by creating an experience where all students can benefit regardless of their race, economic background, or religion. The first year of the program the students reached over 100 students in both East Junior and East Senior High School. This year they are serving approximately 150 students.
The Student Council raises the funds through school sponsored dances and soliciting business donations. Gifts include anything from basic needs such as toothpaste, jackets, hats, and mittens to an item they desire but simply can’t afford.
Nominator, Mel Hoffner, a counselor at East, states, “I have directly witnessed the incredible impact this program has had on students. It inspires others and me to increase our commitment to serving others both in our school and local community.”
Business Pathfinder Award Recipient: Sodexo Inc.
The Business Pathfinder Award was established in 2003 and is presented by Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. to recognize businesses that strive for equal treatment, human rights and non-violence in the workplace.
This year’s recipient, Sodexo Inc., has been a leader in promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. With a footprint in over 80 countries, Sodexo has a long commitment to diversity in its workplace and its philanthropic endeavors. Sodexo sees diversity and inclusion as a central management challenge in today’s global marketplace and that understanding how to best leverage a multicultural workforce is imperative for companies across all industries. As a result of this commitment, in 2013 Sodexo placed #1 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity List for 2013.
This dedication to diversity and inclusivity extends to Sodexo’s operations in the Greater Mankato region as well. Sodexo provides dining services at Minnesota State University, Mankato and also caters food for various business and community meetings and events throughout the area. Sodexo practices the ideals of Dr. King through hiring and promoting diverse individuals. In the past two years and again this year, Sodexo will donate all the food served to attendees at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Sodexo’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is reflected by those who nominated them for the award– Bukata Hayes, Executive Director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and Dr. Michael Fagin, Ethnic Studies faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
According to Dr. Fagin, “A major emphasis in the fabric of Sodexo’s organization is the value of inclusion and diversity. The company has distinguished itself by hiring people with disabilities and ensuring equal opportunities for all people.”
Hayes agreed noting, “The ideals of Dr. King are best exemplified in practice and not rhetoric. Sodexo acts on their belief that all contribute to the workplace and should be valued.”