Do you know who this is? It’s Rebecca Folkerts, and make no mistake; she wasn’t for the faint of heart. She was a ruthless warrior, a fierce champion for those she was charged to support. She blindly went into battle for the people she cared about with blatant disregard for the consequences. Honestly, she was the epitome of a social worker. You could always count on her to fearlessly advocate for what she believed in.
If you were lucky enough to be in Rebecca’s circle, you knew that she loved with every ounce of her being. And, if you were privileged enough to get a glimpse of her smile, you saw that her spirit was clearly projected through it.
That said, Becci carried her warrior spirit with her until the day she died. Two and a half years ago, death stared her straight in the face and she spat on it. She refused to go down without a fight. Without question, she had some serious grit- each day working relentlessly hard in a battle that most of us will know nothing about. And, while some moments were harder than others, she carried on with dignity and grace. She wouldn’t abandon her post or those she was called to serve through it.
But, underneath that tough exterior was a woman with a kind and gentle heart, a woman who cared deeply for others and carried out her life to be of service to those who are weak, vulnerable, and disempowered. For six years, the YDI mission and everything it stands for pumped through her veins. She worked almost every day until the moment her spirit exited her body. Truthfully, Rebecca is the very definition of what #YDIStrong is all about.
More so, her strength of character was unique and could never be matched. Those who walked alongside her on her path knew that she was compassionate and carried herself with integrity. No matter how many times you messed up, she always readily forgave. She refused to let the world harden her heart.
But, she was also a woman to be respected. Every word that spilled out of her mouth was that of the truth. You could always count on Rebecca to tell you exactly how she felt, to give sound advice, and to be unapologetically direct in her communications.
Above all things, though, she was humble. Never once did she put herself above others. Whether you were an FSA or the CEO, she looked at you no differently. Respect was something to be earned, not readily given. If you cozied up next to her in a group carpool for agency business, you could bet that she volunteered to ride in the back. It’s just the way she was. She put others first, always rolling up her sleeves to work alongside her teams to make sure that no stone was left unturned; that no child slipped through the cracks.
Despite her private nature, she built a life around her time at our organization. Her team became her family, and she loved each of them deeply. If you were one of her managers, know that she spoke nothing but the best of you. She fiercely advocated for each of you during her tenure and cared with every ounce of her soul. And, for those stationed at our Missoula location over the years, you held a special place in her heart. You became her family, shaping the course of her life.
We want to thank Rebecca for all she has done to impact the lives of those around her. She was a mentor, friend, and leader to many. Becci, we want you to know that you are indeed an inspiration, and your presence will always live on throughout our locations. Your spirit carries on through the work you have done to build up those around you and the resilience you have fostered in countless youth. Please know, we can never fill your shoes. We will always carry a piece of you in our hearts.