Retired accountant recognized for volunteer work

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By DEB HILL
News-Argus Managing Editor
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Abby Franks (right) explains how the volunteer work of retired accountant Denice Elison (left) has helped keep the Boys and Girls Club of Lewistown on track financially.               Photo by Deb Hill

“Premier volunteer” is the term Abby Franks, Boys and Girls Club of Lewistown executive director, uses to describe club volunteer Denice Elison. On Friday Franks threw a party in honor of Elison, who has contributed 249 volunteer hours so far this year, most of them dedicated to keeping the non-profit’s books and accounting in line.

“The Club is beyond blessed to have Denice,” Franks said. “She retired here six years ago and thanks to her beautiful, clean accounting, our auditors are very happy. We are blessed she does such great work – due to her hard work the club continues with the tradition of clean audits as well as organized and precise financial statements.”

Franks gifted Elison with a “Bob” award.

“Four or five years ago, we had a couple of guys named Bob [Bob Papp and Bob Passow] who really helped us out,” Franks said. “The ‘Bobs’ were so helpful, we hung their photos on the wall and started a new award. When the Oscar started, I bet people thought the name was strange but now it’s fabulous. That’s how the Bob is going to be in the future.”

Franks had arranged for local photographer Kate Loose to take Elison’s portrait photo, which was hung on a wall in the Club where “Bob” awardees are honored.

Dave Pillar, president of the Boys and Girls Club board, seconded Franks’ comments and said besides being an extraordinary volunteer, Elison is a member of the Club’s Finance Committee, which reviews the Club’s financial health and reports to the Board.

“People like that, who put in that much time, really help the Club out,” Pillar said.

“If you consider the typical fees for an accountant, to have one contribute that many hours is invaluable,” Franks added. “We’ve instilled certain accounting principles here at the Club, which Denice has carried forward. She makes our financial statements not only ‘be’ right, but also makes them readable.”

Elison said receiving the award and being honored at a gathering made her feel a bit overwhelmed.

“I don’t do it for myself; I do it for the kids,” she said.

Elison and her husband retired to Lewistown after many years in Alaska. A previous member of the Boys and Girls Club board suggested she look at volunteering with the organization.

“I’ve always felt kids are really important,” Elison said. “In Alaska I served at a non-profit that ran outdoor education programs for kids. Here the Boys and Girls Club means kids have a place to go. I have grandkids, and I know how important it is for kids to have a safe place to go after school.”

In Alaska, Elison was a CPA, and while she has retired from that work, she is happy to contribute her expertise to the Club.

“Accounting is something a lot of people shy away from but it’s where a lot of non-profits need help,” Elison said. “I thought Abby’s time was more valuable spent on other areas of the Club, so I stepped in to do the monthly records and reconciliations. The Club has good internal controls in place, and I’m glad to help where I can.”

Elison said she learned about Lewistown through her husband, retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He had hunted in Central Montana and encouraged the move. 

“I was a little hesitant but we absolutely love it,” she said, adding volunteering helped her feel a part of the community more quickly.

“If you reach out then you are welcomed,” she said.

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