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The BEACON’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year is someone who goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others. The winner will be announced at BeaconFest Boomer & Senior Fair at Two Rivers Convention Center on Thursday, April 20. With so many volunteers to choose from, we’re leaving it up to you, dear readers, to vote for this year’s Volunteer of the Year.

Read about the following outstanding volunteers and click here to vote for your favorite .

George Decker

Nominated by Doug Van Etten,
Colorado Archaeological Society

George has been finding, locating, documenting and, in some cases, sharing archaeological sites for decades. He has been an active member in the Colorado Archaeological Society’s Grand Junction chapter and is perhaps the group’s most frequent field trip leader, sharing his knowledge of archaeology sites in Mesa and Montrose counties with other club members and field trip attendees.

Diana Mathis

Nominated by Jeanie Morris, St. Mary’s Medical Center

Diana loves to make people’s lives better! Her volunteer positions include leading the St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, the local chapter of Mended Hearts and a peer-to-peer support group for cardiac patients. She is also a key organizer of the Go Red for Women education event. Remarkably, she still works full time and is very involved with her grandchildren’s activities. Her energy and positive attitude are infectious and she spreads joy wherever she goes!

Tom Shoaf

Nominated by Jeremy Herigstad, Grand Junction
Symphony Orchestra

Tom regularly volunteers to usher Grand Junction Symphony concerts through RSVP. He not only works our Saturday night concert, but he also tends to sign up for Sunday as well. He is very personable, punctual and dependable, always smiling and always willing to help new ushers. Any time I call to remind him about volunteering, he already has it on his schedule. Tom is my best senior volunteer without a doubt.

Carl Gallagher

Nominated by Bambi Harmon & Angeline Barrett, John McConnell Math & Science Center

Carl has worked tirelessly to help us get all of our exhibits listed, analyzed, measured, revamped, repaired and new ones created so that we can move to our new home on the Colorado Mesa University campus next year. We couldn’t do it without him.

Diane Dea

Nominated by Darcy Johnson, Community Food Bank

Diane is a long-time Mesa County resident and Community Food Bank supporter, volunteering four hours each week as an interviewer. She has knowledge of and is sensitive to hunger-relief needs and issues in the community, which shows as she works directly with food bank clients who are seeking emergency food for themselves and their families. She establishes and maintains effective relationships with other food bank volunteers, ensuring smooth communication and respectful customer service for those the food bank serves. She is a dedicated and committed team player, demonstrating flexibility and professionalism when transitions and changes occur. She has excellent judgment, is an independent worker and makes decisions with the best interest of the food bank and its clients in mind. Diane is an excellent volunteer, one that any organization would be happy to have on board.

Cynda Byers

Nominated by Jennifer Allen, HopeWest

Cynda has been a volunteer at HopeWest for 14 years and has volunteered in many areas. Her experience started at Heirlooms, working in our store and helping customers. She has also been part of our Life Stories program, which provides a vehicle for patients/clients to leave a personal legacy for their family members. She currently works as an administrative volunteer, assisting in our medical records department. She has given over 2,600 hours of volunteer time to HopeWest and is a vital part of our team.

John, Karen & Sienna McKinney

Nominated by Christina Douglass, Harmony Acres Equestrian Center

John McKinney, his wife Karen and daughter Sienna are selected as Harmony Acres Equestrian Center’s volunteers of the year. While we are only supposed to name one volunteer of the year, we would be remiss to leave out the rest of the family. John is a retired military veteran, who came to Harmony Acres when Sienna began volunteering. Every time we turned around, John had cleaned up something or fixed something for us. Pretty soon he became an official volunteer and has become an indispensable part of the facility. He fills in to feed the animals any time our regular staff can’t and constantly finds things to fix or redesign to make our lives easier. He is not deterred by hard work, bad weather or mud, which we encounter all the time at our horse facility. We have shown up to work countless times to find that John and his family have cleaned up and organized the entire barn for us, or fixed something vital to our facility. Somehow they always seem to know exactly what we need to make our program operations run smoothly and safely. Karen and Sienna volunteer at the barn on a weekly basis; help out with animal care, feeding and cleanup; and help handle the horses for our therapy session and programs for kids. The giving and generous heart of this family is beyond measure and we are so grateful for their support.

Pat Brinegar

Nominated by Allison McAtlin, Pomona Elementary

Pat Brinegar has been a volunteer in my first-grade classroom for six years now. She will do anything that is asked and goes above and beyond. She reads and writes with children and brings treats and makes many special connections. She is a retired teacher, comes several times a week and loves the kids. She has put in over 160 hours so far this school year.

Kay Fredette

Nominated by Peter Booth,
Museum of Western Colorado

Since retiring, Kay has volunteered for the Museums of Western Colorado for 31 years. This 78-year-old comes to the museum up to four days a week. She worked 865 hours in 2016. She started working in the MWC’s paleontological museum in 1986 and helped move the program from Grand Junction to Fruita in 2000. Kay now serves as the MWC’s volunteer laboratory supervisor. Her skill and knowledge is exceptional. She directs the cleaning and preparation of fossil specimens to be studied and exhibited, a very time-consuming process with some specimens, requiring months to be prepared. Kay also helps with fossil identification and is responsible for training new laboratory volunteers. During summer digs, Kay helps direct fossil excavations, which often involves working in 100-degree heat for hours at a time. But her efforts have paid off with some noteworthy finds that have significantly expanded our understanding of the ancient Jurassic world. Kay’s assistance has been significant in making the MWC’s Dinosaur Journey into one of the leading paleontology museums in the nation.

Becky Wiemer

Nominated by Jody Brandon, Western Slope Center for Children

Becky is an active volunteer on our fundraising committee. She always steps up and takes on anything she can, from organizing events to passing out flyers promoting our fundraisers. She has a place in her heart for the children we serve and is just a humble, kind and amazing lady.

Janie Hellstrom

Nominated by Melissa Hurni, Scenic Elementary School

Janie Hellstrom is a superstar grandma and top-notch Scenic family volunteer. Janie has the biggest heart and will help whenever and wherever she is needed. Not only does she volunteer weekly in her granddaughter’s second grade class, but she volunteers in our school library twice a week and helps both first- and second-grade classes. She is such a wonderful addition to our family and is always a friendly face. Janie joins in our classroom celebrations and loves to help with projects. She is a wonderful lady and I am not only fortunate to be her granddaughter’s teacher, but I am fortunate to know such an incredible woman.

Bill Stevens

Nominated by Ruth McCrea,
Mesa County RSVP Handyman Project

Bill’s commitment to helping others and desire to make a difference is why he joined RSVP in 2005. His passion and dedication for whatever task he does is evident. In all of his volunteer placements, the common theme is his cheerfulness and willingness to do any requested task. Bill assists weekly with administration in the GJPD Citizens Public Safety Academy. He also volunteers at HopeWest, helping with patient care inventory twice weekly. As the ramp crew leader for the RSVP Handyman Project, Bill does everything to ensure clients receives fair and equitable treatment with a custom-designed ramp that fits their needs. It’s satisfying for Bill to visualize a custom design for a client’s special needs and to see the finished product take shape! Satisfying, too, are client comments. Bill has worked on over 100 ramp jobs since 2005 and he takes on special projects.

Don Riggle

Nominated by Tiffany Waugh, Hilltop Supporting Our Seniors (SOS)

Supporting Our Seniors (SOS) is a volunteer-based senior transportation service for homebound seniors 60 and up. SOS provides rides to the grocery store, pharmacy and to doctor appointments once a week. Don Riggle has been volunteering for SOS for four years now. In 2016, Don drove 3,164.5 miles and 304 hours for SOS. Don has gone above and beyond more times that SOS can count. One example of Don’s dedication to our riders is when he drove from his vacation at Lake Powell back to Grand Junction to help give one of our riders a ride. His compassion and understanding toward our riders shows in every ride he takes. Don even keeps a stepping stool in his car for anyone who needs extra help. With Don, we can trust he has our riders’ best interest at heart and will be there to go the extra mile.


Harry & Chris Segelken

Nominated by Laura Taylor, Roice-Hurst Humane Society

Harry and Chris Segelken are all-star volunteers at Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Harry is our go-to fixer and faithful dog walker and has saved the shelter hundreds of dollars in repair and labor costs. There is no project he isn’t willing to tackle. Chris has a magic with our dogs, especially while patiently earning the trust of the most fearful ones and coaxing them out of their shells, helping them become adoptable and find their forever homes. The Segelkens care deeply about the animals and our organization, which is evident in how they give their time so selflessly and consistently. They have also adopted from RHHS, which could be a symptom of too much volunteering! Harry and Chris are always willing to lend a helping hand and manage to bring a sense of humor with them. We are so grateful for the time and energy they dedicate and their ongoing devotion to RHHS.

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