By Abbie Digel

The not-profit group Women in Action (WIA) has
had a presence in Big Sky for the past five years under the direction of a group of dedicated volunteers
and founder, Rachel Thesing. The group welcomed
a new Executive Director, Lisa Beczkiewicz, in
December 2010. Beczkiewicz moved to town with
her husband, Christian Guiterez, Ophir’s music
teacher, and their two young daughters. She’d
spent the last 14 years building a prevention-based
after school program with the Western Montana
Mental Health Center in Missoula. The program
started with two schools, and by the time she left
last fall, kids at 11 public schools were benefiting
from her work.
Beczkiewicz comes to WIA with a breadth of
experience. She graduated from Indiana University
with a degree in human development and family
studies and minors in psychology and sociology.
After traveling extensively post-college, she set
up a day camp for the military in Germany, lived in
Alaska, Colorado and Missoula, then began at WIA in late
December.
The first Executive Director of the organization, Beczkiewicz has a vision for WIA to become more involved in the
gaps in Big Sky’s services. She has already helped strengthen WIA programs like the popular Community Counseling
program, School Counseling summer camp scholarships,
flu clinics, and other assistance for public health needs. Beczkiewicz cares for young people and hopes to improve and
implement services that will benefi t that population.
Beczkiewicz bases her values on a saying from Kenya’s Masai tribe: “I wake up every morning and think, ‘How are the
children?’ It’s [the Masai] barometer on how their society
is doing. I look at it the same way here. Are [the children]
learning and growing? Are they exploring, happy, safe, fed,
connected and loved?”
In Missoula, Beczkiewicz collected data on a larger scale,
“where the needs [were] … black and white.” In Big Sky,
where she is a newcomer, Beczkiewicz has been networking
to find those needs. “It’s been a fun challenge. There are a
lot kids and families here. How do we keep them engaged,
and how does our community support our youth?”
Beczkiewicz plans to meet with the
Gallatin County health department to
develop a public health needs assessment
to see what the health needs are in Big
Sky. Some ideas from that assessment
could include bringing in a pediatrician,
and she will continue to be their liaison
in Big Sky.
“Every community needs mental health
services. Providing the counseling here
has been huge,” she said. Also, she is developing
an e-newsletter, a more extensive
volunteer program, and a stronger
financial assistance form.
In a small community, “It’s very take care
of thy neighbor,” she said. “If you are
not connected with somebody, you become
isolated pretty quickly, so we need
to provide back up services, whether it’s
housing, food, or medical.”
Women in Action will continue to be
a social service arm in health, family
and education for Big Sky. Beczkiewicz
believes in prevention as a model for
change. She says within social services,
results are measured with the data that
supports behavior and attitude change.
“Putting that into perspective in Big Sky
is tricky, but we can do it. Knowing how
to work within the means we have here
is a doable challenge.” wiabigsky.org
Lisa Beczkiewicz encourages anyone
interested in or who has ideas for Women
in Action to contact her directly at (406)
209-7098.