Humanitarian Award Winner

Definition: A Humanitarian is an individual who has the courage to take decisive actions when needed, the patience to face aggressive challenges, and the willingness to sacrifice themselves and their time to have a long-term impact on the betterment of our residents and our company.

Kenny Ratzlaff was a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of his community. First and foremost, he was a man of God and  a family man. He married the love of his life and spent 54 years with her, raising their children, and spending time with his grandchildren. Mr. Ratzlaff was founder and president of Beacon Specialized Living Services from 1998 until he passed away in 2021, advocating for individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health needs. Kenny had a deep compassion for people and wanted to make a positive difference to those he served. Driven by the desire to love Jesus and wanting others to experience Jesus’s powerful love in their own lives, he tirelessly worked to advocate for the best life possible for people – especially those with mental health difficulties. His legacy continues to last through his friends, family, his community, and especially at Beacon Specialized Living.

As part of the legacy Beacon founder Kenny Ratzlaff leaves behind, we recognize a few individuals every year as part of the Ken Ratzlaff Humanitarian Award. This year’s award recipient in 2022 is Kimberly Howard.

Bronze plaque of the Kenny Ratzlaff Humanitarian Award with his image at the top and name plates of winners on the bottom.

Ms. Howard is the District Director of our Heartland District which covers homes in our South region of Michigan. She has over 90 employees under her tutelage, and with the support from her team they have created and developed a tight-knit group for the betterment of our Individuals. She loves what she does day in and day out. Yes, there are days that are difficult! But overall, to see the improvement and success of each people-supported is what makes it worth it. She encourages them to experience their best life in their everyday lives through basic activities as well as special event activities. Kim also supports her employees in all they do. It’s wonderful to see them grow and succeed as they develop and mature in their roles.

Kimberly Howard

Becoming a Humanitarian awardee is an honor, and it’s not just the basic skills of the job that have allowed her to be recognized. Kim has years of experience in healthcare and she has been with Beacon Specialized Living since 2019. Part of the reason this is near and dear to her heart is because she went to foster care as a child and she doesn’t want others to experience the difficulties she went through. Person-centered care and reaching their goals is the pinnacle experience for her. After working long days she still cares for her family and kids. She loves being a mom and she loves her animals. Kim also has horses, and she is a 4H Leader. She’s been active in her church community and is all about teaching and helping others. If her staff needs her, she’s been there after hours to assist them. She’s been a Direct Support Professional for years and worked her way into a role as District Director. It’s about guiding, working together, enhancing lives, succeeding as a team, staying positive, and making each day count.

Humanitarian Love

It takes an extraordinary person to live up to the prestige and legacy of Ken Ratzlaff. Kim Howard has the courage to do what is right every day, the patience to work with everyone around while taking on challenges to make a positive difference, and the ability to sacrifice herself whenever someone is in need. She loves whole heartedly and cares deeply for those she serves and others in her life. This is why Kim is selected as our Humanitarian Award winner.

For more information on Beacon Specialized Living or our history, please visit If you’d like to contact Beacon Specialized Living or have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to


  • Jenn Straka

    Jennifer holds a BA in English & Communications from Western Michigan University, focusing on marketing and sales. With over a decade of experience, she brings a fresh lens to Beacon's events and activities, helping the individuals we serve through acts of kindness wherever she goes.

    Compliance & Marketing Assistant