As budget shortages forced area hospitals to close, Muriel Howard recognized the need to support the medical facility in her small town. If it closed, the nearest hospital would be an almost an hour away—a potentially life-threatening distance. Howard leads a foundation to recruit volunteers, raise funds, and educate civic organizations and business leaders about why they should support the 92-bed hospital, where more than 60 percent of the patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid. Funds raised are used to buy equipment and to educate residents through health fairs and seminars. Voted Woman of the Year by the local newspaper, Howard has shown dedication to her community for the last 20 years. A cancer survivor, she’s also an active volunteer and major fundraiser with American Cancer Society.