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Beacon Senior News

Volunteer of the Year: Honoring the change-makers that better our community

Oct 07, 2018 05:32AM ● By Cloie Sandlin

Mary Jo St. Jean was nominated for the BEACON’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year award by Marcia Melvin at Crossroads Senior Living. Pictured beside Mary Jo is Pamela McGee.

Each year, the BEACON Senior News honors the dedicated men and women who volunteer to make our world a better place. Our readers and local organizations love telling us about individuals who contribute their time, skills and special talents to our community, going beyond the call of duty and performing outstanding acts of service.

In addition to recognizing these volunteers in stories and photos, we ask our readers to cast their votes for the BEACON Volunteer of the Year, an award that honors an individual who sets the standard for community service.

Mary Jo St. Jean was nominated for the BEACON's 2018 Volunteer of the Year award by Marcia Melvin at Crossroads Senior Living. Pictured beside Mary Jo is Pamela McGee.

This was our first time hosting Volunteer of the Year specifically in Montrose and Delta counties. For this inaugural year, our readers chose Mary Jo St. Jean—a friendly face to the people she lives and works with at Crossroads Senior Living and others who benefit from her energy and willingness to help out in the community.

Crossroads’ Activities Director Marcia Melvin nominated St. Jean for the award, saying, “Mary Jo is full of volunteer energy! [She] is invaluable to me at Crossroads.”

She added that St. Jean is up for any task, whether it’s office work, cleaning or helping set up for events. St. Jean is very active in Delta County, volunteering at Delta County Memorial Hospital, HopeWest, Heirlooms for Hospice, Delta Chamber of Commerce and the Delta County Museum

“No one deserves this award more than Mary Jo,” Melvin wrote in her nomination. “Where there is a volunteer need, she is there to help out. She is on call to help out on short notice. Mary Jo always has a smile on her face to brighten those of the people she comes in contact with. She has my highest recommendation for this Volunteer of the Year award!”

Ready and willing

Rory Ridley has been a volunteer driver for All Points Transit (APT) since the beginning of the year. Though his schedule can be demanding between running a business and other projects, he sets aside time to help others.

Ridley’s giving spirit and reliability make him a tremendous asset to this nonprofit, which provides transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities throughout Montrose, Delta, San Miguel and Ouray counties.

“He often takes early morning shifts, taking folks to Delta, Grand Junction and Ridgway, as well as around town,” APT Mobility Manager TJ Burr wrote in his nomination. “He is very eager to claim any shift that we cannot fit into our paid driver schedules.”

Burr said Ridley has logged in over 80 hours between March and August.

“We can’t thank [Rory] enough for his dedication and commitment,” Burr said.

Blessings big and small

You don’t have to volunteer a boat load of hours each week to make a difference. Simple gestures can go a long way.

Sandy Longmore is a cherished volunteer at Sharing Ministries Food Bank who goes above and beyond in showing love and kindness to her fellow volunteers as well as families that walk in.

Longmore volunteers at the faith-based nonprofit in Montrose four days a week. Executive Director Oneda Doyal said she spends her own dollars to create special gifts for clients and loves entertaining children while their parents sit patiently in the waiting room.

“She writes short stories and jokes and prints them off to distribute to clients,” Doyal wrote in her nomination.

She also gives them books she makes herself containing easy-to-cook recipes.

Longmore’s selflessness isn’t just evident to clients. She goes out of her way to make everyone she works with feel special. Last Christmas, she made gift bags for all of Sharing Ministries’ 150 volunteers.

“Sandy cares deeply about every client and volunteer that comes through here,” Doyal said. “Sandy is a selfless servant to her community and we feel that she deserves recognition of her service.”