Savenia Falquist, former Madras High School Youth Development Team advisor, received the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award at a presentation at MHS March 13.
This is the highest award the FBI gives to citizens, and only 56 are given out nationally each year.
Falquist worked several years with Madras youth, and helped kids organize the making of a movie about sex abuse, based on an idea they came up with while attending a National Center for Victims of Crime conference in Washington, D.C.
Falquists' students worked with Madras film maker Duke White of Hudsonpro Productions, serving as actors in the movie "Silent Message," which debuted in Madras in February 2007.
The film carries the message for teens to speak out about sex abuse and not keep it to themselves. Only by talking about it can corrective actions be taken and healing begin.
The film went on to be shown at schools, training conferences, and is still being used.
Award presenter Dan Nielsen, assistant special agent in charge at the Portland FBI office, said one of their agents that worked on the reservation was in the movie and reported on its impact, which led to Falquist being selected for the award.
Falquist mentioned making extra work for the FBI in her acceptance speech, and Nielsen explained. "Some victims have come forward after seeing the movie, which has made more work for the FBI on the reservation," he said.
A room full of students and others who worked with Falquist were present to see her receive the award, including attorney Mark Matthews, who works at the tribal Victims of Crime office.
"Many people don't realize the impact of the movie. I've made two presentations using the movie to different Indian victims assistance groups, and it's still being used as an awareness tool," Matthews said, adding he had heard there had been 18 or more disclosures by victims to the FBI because of the movie.
Calling up student actors to accept the award with her, Falquist noted, "The award really does mean a lot to me ... and this project, and film and working with the youth has been a lifetime experience."
She moved to Portland last year after her grant position ended, and is currently doing grant consulting work for classes that strengthen families, and continues to work in Warm Springs on juvenile crime prevention programs.