HORSEHEADS, NY (WETM) – Remarkable Woman Awards highlights some of the great women in the country. People of the twin tiers have nominated some amazing leaders in the community. WETM chose the four finalists and every week we feature one of those women. This week we took a look at Melanie Rahr.
Rahr is a social work assistant at Horseheads Middle School with the help of her very furry friend, Dobby the Chinchilla.
Rahr is bubbly, smart and very passionate about what she does.
“I feel like if I had wanted to be a CEO of Pepsi, I would have been a CEO of Pepsi, but what I really wanted to do was have some meaning and help people on their own journey,” Rahr said.
Loghan Wagner was one of Rahrs clients and now considers her as a family member.
“She’s funny, and she’s not afraid to call you out and a lot of times people need that,” said Wagner.
Rahr’s open-door policy continues, even after they are no longer her clients.
“When we stop working together and we stop disengaging, my response to pretty much everybody is if you need me call me and I will respond,” Rahr said.
“She was my case manager from my freshman year of high school until I graduated,” Wagner explained. “Well, when I graduated, I wasn’t her client anymore so we could just be friends.”
Rahr committed time and energy to Wagner and others.
“She drove me to and from Ithaca every week for years,” said Wagner. “She did help me get to college, throughout college I would text her if I needed somebody to talk to.”
Rahr’s husband, John Rahr, sees the tremendous work that his wife does and knows that’s just the person she is.
“She goes out of her way, she is always listening and she hears what the kids say, she doesn’t just listen,” said John Rahr. “It’s natural for her, she is up for the task, she will do whatever she needs to do to help these people through.”
“She has helped me through a whole lot of rough situations, that I have been through, she has helped me in almost every aspect of my life, in one way or another, she was and is somebody that I can call if I need something,” said Wagner.
People who know Rahr knows that she will fight for her clients.
“A lot of advocating, she has the ability to stand up to high authority. She’s gone to courts and she’s gone to judges,” said John Rahr.
She speaks up for people.
“People get used to not having a voice so by being a voice for them you are also kind of teaching them that they can be a voice for themselves and that’s what brings about change,” Rahr said.
Rahr used to work for Paul Fairbanks who saw first hand all of the good that she has done.
“There were some traumas that we all went through in this work, I mean it’s hard when that person commits suicide that type of thing, and I just saw her stand up and say, we need to do better, and she wasn’t afraid to just got to administration and say ‘Look, we need to think about what is happening here, and what are we going to do about this.’ It took a lot of courage because with a big bureaucracy you know people try to fall in line and Melanie is not one to just fall in line, she’s going to, she’s going to stand up for what is right and do the right thing,” Fairbanks said.
But that’s all in a day’s work for Rahr, so when she was notified that her husband had nominated her for the remarkable women award, she was in disbelief.
“Oh, I thought it was spam,” said Rahr.
But it came as no surprise to everyone else.
“She’s a remarkable woman, she is a remarkable wife, remarkable mother,” said John Rahr.
“I always thought that she was remarkable, in many ways,” Fairbanks laughed.
“She does deserve it, one-hundred-percent. She helped turn my life around, completely and I am forever thankful,” Wagner said.