By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — Two roaring standing ovations, two dedicated and selfless individuals, countless lives saved, even more impacted.
Rosa Mettler and Yvette Wyatt were celebrated as two of United Way of North Idaho’s shining stars during the UWNI annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Hagadone Event Center.
Their peers described them as compassionate crusaders who always make time for others and rarely think of themselves.
Mettler, chief programming officer for Children’s Village, is a bulldog for the neglected and abused kids their nonprofit serves, said Children's Village CEO Mark Wilson. He nominated her for the UWNI Nonprofit Professional of the Year award, which she accepted with contagious tears.
"When Rosa first came to Children’s Village, she noticed that children were being turned away for behavior problems," Wilson said, speaking to 200 luncheon attendees.
"She advised the board of directors that the children with problem behaviors were the direct result of childhood trauma related to abuse and neglect, and that they, the board, were not honoring their mission. That’s bold, right? I’m glad they didn’t fire her right on the spot."
In fact, they listened to her and changed their way of thinking.
"They developed a five-year strategic plan with the goal of becoming a trauma-informed care facility," Wilson said. "Under her guidance, they adopted a new protocol and philosophy: trust-based relational intervention."
Mettler is highly regarded by all and has greatly impacted the lives of countless children and families, Wilson said, "and folks, she is just getting warmed up."
Wyatt, who serves as the programming chair of CDAIDE, a nonprofit that helps find resources for struggling hospitality and restaurant workers, had a similarly sweet introduction by CDAIDE board chair Rebecca Smith.
Smith said that when people in need call CDAIDE, their first point of contact is often Wyatt, who arranges meetings with them and takes time out of her day to get the full scope of their troubles.
"This is a process where people share a lot of personal details about their lives, their stuggles and their current needs," Smith said.
Wyatt does this on top of her work as the education/disabilities coordinator at North Idaho College Head Start Central Office, which is already an emotionally demanding job.
"In this role (with CDAIDE), she is passionate, she is empathetic, she is comforting while at the same time getting people to open up and share their story with her," Smith said. "When you’re at your lowest point and you’re telling a stranger personal details about your life, it takes a really special person to make that encounter feel positive and supportive, and Yvette does that time and time again."
Along with highlighting Mettler’s and Wyatt's achievements, UWNI staff and board members gave shout-outs to corporate champions and individual donors who help the nonprofit UWNI in its mission to fight for the health, education and financial stability in every North Idaho community. They shared stories from their programs, thanked those who support them and encouraged everyone to continue the good work.
"Our vision is a community that works together to ensure children succeed in school, individuals live healthy lives and everyone has the opportunity to achieve financial well-being," said UWNI community impact chair April Fortier.