Heather Savalox among recipients of Colorado United We Serve Awards
Steamboat Springs — Heather Savalox, of the anti-bullying program “It Takes Courage” and a senior environmental health specialist for Routt County, was one of four Colorado recipients named for the 2016 United We Serve Award by the Federal Executive Board of Colorado this month.
The awards are given annually to Colorado government employees in recognition of volunteer work and community service.
Savalox said Wednesday she’s especially pleased the award links her role with Routt County government and her passion for helping youngsters in the community who may need emotional support. This year’s ceremony will be held May 4 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. People interested in attending may register at the Federal Executive Board’s Web page.
Other recipients at the federal level this year include, Marlene De La Rosa, of the Executive Office for Immigration Review; Gerald “Gerry” Smith, of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology; and, at the municipal level, Byron “Torch” Barr, city of Littleton Fire Rescue.
“It Takes Courage” is affiliated with REPS, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, in Steamboat Springs. REPS Executive Director Meghan Francone wrote in a letter of support for Savalox’s nomination that she and her volunteers provide young people and families with the tools needed to instill courage and resilience, as well as to foster empathetic communities.
“Heather is an anti-bullying hero in Steamboat Springs for creating and supporting positive change in both the local schools and the community,” Francone wrote.
Savalox said that “It Takes Courage,” as an affiliate of REPS, has reached out to more than 2,500 school students and staff members across the Yampa Valley since 2012. She acknowledged the role of Gina Toothaker, of Mind Springs Health, and Elizabeth Klemer and Mike and Kathy Diemer, of Johnny B. Good’s Diner, as volunteers.
Savalox told Steamboat Today in 2012 that she was shocked to learn Routt County’s suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds was significantly higher than other counties around the state. Motivated by the loss of a young family member, she created a video that brought the damage done by bullying home to local adolescents on an emotional level. Part of the goal of “It Takes Courage” is to reform bullies, leading them to play a positive role, she said.
“I want to be able to make it so people aren’t afraid to talk about bullying, that they don’t feel uncomfortable, and they know someone is approachable out there,” Savalox said in 2012.
Savalox was nominated for the United We Serve award by her supervisor at work, Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman, who began in that role in late December 2015.
Cowman said he was previously only vaguely aware of the work being done in the community by Savalox but added that, when the nomination form came across his desk, he thought of her.
“She certainly deserves the ward and is qualified,” Cowman said. “She’s worked hard and done a lot for the community and should be recognized.”
“It’s incredible to me that “It Takes Courage” is a source of inspiration for other people and what a great fit (the We Serve Award) is for government employees like me,” Savalox said Wednesday. “I’ve been doing this for four years, but the community knows me from something else — that I work for the county. Something like this puts the two together.”
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