Inez "Midge" Montano
Red Cliff, WI
“When someone tells you their stories, it is an honor for you to listen.”
Midge Montano is a certified social worker with the State of Wisconsin and Family Navigator for the Red Cliff Early Childhood Center's (ECC) Launch Program. She has given a lifetime to serving her community. Midge was the New Day Shelter Employee Program Director/Native American Counselor for over 20 years of service. In addition, she guided discussions groups for women, established restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders, and served as Court Magistrate - sometimes simultaneously. Midge is also a poet, representing the 3rd generation of female poets in her family.
Describe what inspired you to start this work.
My mother told me I would never amount to anything, that I would end up as a drunk. I always knew that would not be my fate, because I focused more on other people. Maybe I saw my suffering in them, but their problems were probably easier than mine, so that's what I worked on!
What has been your greatest success or challenge in this work?
Money is always a problem. Federal funds are late or are taken away, so programs that work well suddenly have to end. Our region does not have good-paying jobs, so people depend on each other for food or trips to town. But we get it done. We help each other out. We try to help everyone who needs help.
What would you say to other women and girls who want to make or support change in their community, state, world?
Understand that you have a lot to be grateful for, and that other people helped you, and never gave up on you. Unconditional love, and humility - this is what you need, and don't be greedy, be grateful. When someone tells you their stories, it is an honor for you to listen. For maybe you hear what hurt them, and what they need to heal.
Senator Janet Bewley on the 19th Amendment Centennial
Inspired by the centennial of the 19th Amendment, would you like to comment on voting or have a story to share?
The 19th Amendment is important to remember today because of the civil rights victory it is, and also to expose that it benefited some but failed others. The 19th Amendment prevented the right to vote to be denied based on sex, but minority populations were left behind as white women were able to head to the polls. Measures meant to hinder Black women, like poll taxes and literacy tests, survived in America for almost half a century more. The 19th Amendment is and was an important step towards ensuring that all people could vote, and important in the history of voting rights, but it is just as important to remember and celebrate the civil rights victories that have come since it was passed 100 years ago.