Leadership Grants

Leadership Grants

The Foundation has awarded numerous individual leadership grants for individuals to participate in local Townsend Leadership Programs (TLP). Growth is such a huge part of what TLP stands for and what AJ valued. He often quipped, “I just want everyone to be healthy”.

In addition, the foundation has awarded several organization leadership grants, including:

  • The Junior League of Billings
  • The Confession Closet
  • Friends of the Children
  • Love and Sunshine Ministries
  • Eagle Mount, Billings
  • Tumbleweed
  • Lockwood High School, Junior ROTC Program
  • Friendship House

Townsend Leadership Grant Highlight: Arieanna Ramage

There once was a little girl who stood waving her arms between her dad’s recliner and the TV, desperately wanting his attention. Wanting to be seen. Wanting to be noticed. She was almost always met with a response of, “You make a better door than a window.” That little girl took what was meant for humor and internalized it believing she needed to be unseen, quiet and out of the way. That little girl grew into a young woman that deep down still felt that she wasn’t valuable enough to be noticed or heard. That little girl is me, Arieanna Ramage.

When I was awarded an AJ Blain Foundation scholarship and entered TLP three and a half years ago, I was pretty sure that I was already emotionally healthy and had most of this side of my life figured out. I truly thought I was doing TLP proactively. For as long as I can remember, I have been a helper and after many years of growth and reflection in TLP, I can now look back on that little girl in front of the TV and understand why. Helping others gets you seen and noticed. Helping others can be a very successful way to hide your own pain without even realizing it. This is just one of the many areas of my life that TLP has helped me uncover and heal.

This healing would not have been possible without the life and death of AJ Blain. Towards the end of our time together as a close friend of AJ’s, we were always discussing “feelings and shit”- his words, not mine. While alive, I watched him grow by being more emotionally attuned to himself and others. Then after his passing, I witnessed and have been a part of the immense ripple effect of his wanting to get healthy on an emotional level. It has weaved its way through our entire community and beyond.

I was personally blessed by his hard work in his own life through our friendship, but I have also been impacted through the many lives that his pursuit of emotional health has changed after his death. One of those being my TLP Director, Diana Shay. She has been my personal TLP director for the last 3.5 years and has helped me rescue and heal that little girl, giving both versions of me a voice and a strong sense of value. I am now able to use my gifting and love of helping others without the underlying need to be seen and find my worth in it.

This was all because of AJ and the foundation started in his memory. My TLP group often sits together on our meeting days in awe and gratitude that we are all here growing and getting healthy because of AJ’s life and death. The AJ Blain Foundation has made it possible for those who could not have done it otherwise. I am one of those people. And I am just one of many, many stories of healing and growth that has been fueled by the AJ Blain Foundation. AJ’s circle of friends continues to grow far and wide because of the incredible generosity of the foundation and its donors.

— Arieanna Ramage, May 2024