Brian Dennis, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County, has been named Montana's Afterschool Provider of the Year.
Attorney General Steve Bullock presented Dennis with the award during a surprise ceremony Tuesday to honor him for his work on after-school care for Montana kids.
"It's incredibly flattering," Dennis said. "I'm one of the lucky ones that gets to go to a place every day where we come to work to see how big a difference we can make."
He has been with Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County for eight years and oversees all four of the clubhouses in the Billings area.
The clubs serve about 1,470 kids through after-school and summer programs and, between all of them, see about 700 kids each day.
"When you look beyond the comic-book culture, the true superheroes among us are the individuals who give the most, who work tirelessly to make their communities stronger, and who, through their efforts, make the lives of others richer and happier,” Bullock said. “The Boys and Girls Club’s Brian Dennis is that kind of superhero.”
Jack Eagle, the clubs' chief volunteer officer and board chairman, nominated Dennis for the award for his work in bringing new ways to keep kids engaged while finding ways to make a positive impact.
"One of Brian’s greatest strengths is an unwavering commitment to the kids and ensuring that they have the best possible membership experience and outcome,” Eagle said.
He started as program director of the Lockwood Clubhouse and helped get the fourth club, at Bench Elementary in the Heights, up and running. Recently, Dennis worked with Billings Public Schools on a program called Homework BOOST, which sends club staff to middle schools for after school homework help.
While Dennis said he was honored by the award, he was also quick to deflect praise.
"We're just really lucky to do what we do," he said. "It's fortunate to be recognized for something we love to do. There's so many great staff here and so many other places that do so much."