Griffith receives honor from Dakota Hospital Foundation By David Lias
Plain Talk Len Griffith may be known more as a long-time member of Vermillion's education system, having served as guidance counselor for the Vermillion School District since 1975. On Wednesday, May 13, Len was recognized for another important role he has filled for over 30 years. He was honored by the Dakota Hospital Foundation for the significant impact he has on the well-being of the Vermillion community. The foundation presented Len with its Community Health Service Award at its annual Community Leadership Dinner, held in the Muenster University Center at the University of South Dakota. Roger Kozak, master of ceremonies at the dinner, ticked off a long list of Len's accomplishments just before he was presented the award. "To date, Len has guided, reviewed and revised many comprehensive counseling plans. Len has been the coordinator for the Crisis Management Plan and Prevention Team, and has planned and implemented local, state and national achievement testing programs. "He has managed the advanced placement program, and has worked as a team with the Department of Labor and administration for the origin of the alternative school," Kozak said. "He has established the Natural Helpers as Peer Helpers." Len has also directed transitions for special education and foreign exchange students, and has collaborated with colleagues to implement "Pathways to Success," a model for schools to provide rigor, relevance, relationships and resolve for students. He also was a key participant in the design and implementation of a curriculum with purpose, flexibility and sustainability to meet students' needs. "Len is one of those individuals who has spent a lifetime helping others," Kozak said. "Much of what Len Griffith does is not seen by others. It will be the one-on-one conversations with a student who is facing a life challenge, who needs that special moment to hear someone with some encouraging words, to hear options that are available that are constructive and not destructive. "Len is that person who quietly saves lives," he added, "by encouraging others to believe in themselves, to encourage others to take pride in their accomplishments and to convince others that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud." "My life has been working with people, and having the relationships that I have," Len told the banquet crowd after accepting the foundation's award. He thanked his students, his friends and his colleagues, many who attended Wednesday's event . "This is our village. You are the people who I have walked with, who I have talked with, that I've laughed with and I've cried with," Len said. "We have so many different incidents together – both sad ones and happy ones – and we've grown, and gotten better at what we do because we are family." He said his wife, Mary, and his personal family are sources of strength. "My experience in my home in Vermillion has been that of creating a network. This is a network. This is an award for all of you. It is an award that recognizes the value of our collaboration, of support, and a celebration of successes," Len said. The health service award, he added, "represents the positive growing relationship that my family has with Sanford (Vermillion Hospital), my school district has with Sanford and the Dakota Hospital Foundation in preparing our students for their future by providing a healthy physical, emotional and academic environment." Established by the Dakota Hospital Foundation board of directors in 2001, the Community Health Services Award recognizes outstanding contributions of time, talent and resources benefiting the health of the community. Recipients are selected by the Dakota Hospital Foundation Board for their significant lifetime dedication or unique, noteworthy contributions to community health services.
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