The Lakes Area Youth Area Service Bureau has chosen Forest Lake High School senior Rachel Huset and Kathy Bystrom, community health outreach manager at Fairview Lakes Medical Center, to receive the 2013 On Behalf of Youth awards.
The awards are given annually to honor one teenage and one adult community member who provide meaningful services or activities for youth in the Forest Lake school district or Chisago County.
Nominees must be a positive role models, working to break down barriers between youth and adults and providing enthusiastic leadership beyond job or volunteer duties.
The awards will be presented at special ceremonies at the Lakes Area Youth Services Bureau office, 244 N. Lake Street in Forest Lake, with a dessert reception at 6:30 p.m. and program at 7. Huset will receive the award on Wednesday, May 28, and Bystrom on Wednesday, June 11.
Huset was chosen for her compassion and unwavering commitment to fairness.
After becoming caregiver and friend of a young person with a disabling disease, to promote acceptance of students with special needs Huset created a campaign at the high school to end people’s tendency to call disabled people “retarded.”
She planned and spoke at the all-school assembly, then extended the campaign by using Twitter and speaking to community organizations.
She also founded the first Special Olympics unified basketball team at FLHS and is a Special Olympics bowling coach.
“I hope this can inspire youth to continue to promote kindness and acceptance of others,” she said.
Huset is also secretary of the FFA chapter and received the FFA community service award. She is a member of her school’s Rotary Interact Club, Open Minds Club, National Honor Society and Diversity Club.
She is involved with the Walk to End Hunger, is an ambassador for the City of Lino Lakes and member of Eaglebrook Church in Lino Lakes.
After finishing high school, Huset plans to study psychology and special education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
She is the daughter of Amy and Bruce Huset.
Bystrom was nominated by Carla Norelius, who recently retired as Community Health Outreach Manager at Fairview Lakes Medical Center.
“The well-being of youth in our communities is truly Kathy’s passion,” says Norelius. “She glows when she talks about the accomplishments of young adults she has mentored along the way.”
Norelius said Bystrom has a great way of connecting with students as she goes into school settings to champion suicide prevention, mental health and general wellness.
“She grieves when she learns of a suicide in any community and thinks, ‘What more could we have done to prevent it?’”
Lowell Johnson of the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment supported the nomination. In his letter he highlighted Bystrom’s leadership with the Statewide Health Improvement Program and the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families.
“Kathy brings humor, intelligence and enthusiasm to projects,” he said.
Steven Housch of Fairview Lakes Health Services also supported the nomination. He wrote about Bystrom’s success with the Fairview-sponsored “Friends Make a Difference” mentoring program, which pairs youth in 14 schools with caring adults, and her leadership role in the “Most of US” community norms campaign in the Forest Lake School District.
“She is a humble leader and a great role model,” Housh said.
Bystrom recently succeeded Norelius as Community Health Outreach Manager for Fairview Lakes Medical Center, after serving as Assistant Director for six years.
Before that she was Youth Development Coordinator for Forest Lake Area Schools Community Education.
Bystrom was named 2009 Community Youth Volunteer of the Year by the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and in 2013 received the Washington County Commissioner’s Service Award.
She is a graduate of Forest Lake High School and, with her husband Ron, raised two children, Steve and Jessie.
She also is a member of the ISD 831 school board.
North Branch police officer Tim Olson will receive the youth service bureau’s James Trudeau Law Enforcement Award.