Helping hand gets pat on back

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

For Kenai's Jim "Monty" Montgomery, volunteering is simply a way of life.

From helping out with youth sports to serving on volunteer policy-making boards, Montgomery devotes the majority of his free time to helping others in the community.

For his tireless efforts, Montgomery, a safety adviser for British Petroleum who works on the North Slope, recently was honored as one of 10 recipients of the Alaska First Lady's Volunteer of the Year Award.

Montgomery said he was surprised he was being singled out for recognition. When he got the call from the governor's office, he said he initially thought he was being hassled.

"I thought it was a phone survey," he said.

Once he realized it was no survey, Montgomery said he was happy to get the recognition for his work, even though that's really not what motivates him.

"You do this because you want to do it," he said. "But it's nice to be recognized."

Montgomery credited his flexible work schedule, which allows him to be home for two weeks at a time, with helping him be so involved. He has large blocks of time where he can do whatever he wants, he said. For some slope workers, that equals lots of recreational activities, but for Montgomery, it's time he can invest in the community.

"I've been pretty fortunate in my life, and I just feel like you should give back," he said.

The list of Montgomery's work in the community is impressive. Among other things, he helps out with the Kenai Central High School football team, the Boys and Girls Club and BP's Community Involvement Fund. In the past, he's lent a hand to everything from high school volleyball to chaperoning middle school dances.

Montgomery was nominated for the award by BP Associate Director of Community Affairs Tammie Anderson. Anderson said Tuesday that Montgomery makes for a perfect employee because he is so driven to get involved in his hometown.

"We like to have our employees involved in the community where they live, and every time you talk to him he's volunteering," she said.

Having Montgomery around, she said, makes it easy to show other BP employees how to get involved with volunteering.

"He sets the bar high for other employees," she said.

Montgomery said he doesn't volunteer for any kind of personal gain. Instead, he just likes to do things that make him happy, which mainly includes working with young people. Although his two daughters already have graduated from KCHS, he said he still likes to help out at the school wherever he can.

"I like kids, I like to work around them and help them out," he said. "I just do a lot of things because I enjoy it."

In addition to the kids, Montgomery said he's been fortunate to work with quality people wherever he's gone. And as an assistant football coach at Kenai and Soldotna before that Montgomery said he's been surrounded by people who also have the best interest of the kids at heart.

"I work with some great people," he said. "You look at our program at Kenai, it's all about responsibility and making the kids better, giving them skills for life."

After spending 20 years in Kenai, Montgomery said he has no intention of getting out of the volunteer lifestyle. Helping out is what he likes to do, and he said he'll continue to do it for as long as he can.

"As long as they let me," he said. "I'll keep doing it."

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