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Beacon Senior News

Vote for the 2021 Volunteer of the Year

Jul 26, 2021 04:07PM ● By Lauren Berg
Vote for our 2021 Volunteer of the Year. Voting now open!

The BEACON’s Volunteer of the Year award recognizes our community’s exceptional volunteers. We’re leaving it up to you, dear readers, to vote for this year’s winner.

Two winners will be announced—one from Mesa County and one from Montrose or Delta counties. The last day to vote is Wednesday, September 1 at 11:59 p.m. 

Vote online

Step 1: Read up on the nominees below

Step 2: Scroll down to the voting form at the bottom of the page

Step 3: Fill out the ballot by providing your name and email address, then pick your favorite volunteer. (We will never send you unwanted emails or pass your information along to a third party.) 

Step 4: Click “Submit”

Mesa County Nominees

Mesa County volunteers will be recognized at Grand Junction BeaconFest on Thursday, September 9

 Rich Parrish

Nominated by Tia Peters & Joy Thompson, CASA of Mesa County

Rich has dedicated his retirement years to providing advocacy for at-risk children and their families. He strives to make sure that children who’ve experienced abuse and neglect have a voice in their future and the support and healing necessary to become successful citizens in Mesa County. He and his wife provided foster care for a child and were awarded guardianship of a little girl in 2019. Additionally, Rich has served on the Crime Stoppers board for years, has tutored community members in English as a second language, and has hosted JUCO players for decades. Rich cares deeply about the community and the citizens that live here. During the toughest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find Rich checking on neighbors, setting needed supplies outside the doors of those who were confined, and providing a kind voice to those who needed to hear one. Rich never asks for anything in return for his deeds. He is compassionate and dedicated, generous and humble. He is the perfect example of what a citizen should strive to be: someone who continues to make a difference by caring about others and giving back to our community. 

 Clarke Cohu

Nominated by Briana Board, Eureka! McConnell Science Museum

Clarke is a unique and incredible volunteer. He came to volunteer at EUREKA! through RSVP. He has tackled some of our most complex exhibit projects with the skill of a master craftsman and the creativity of an artist. Clarke built a new, high-tech light optics table for the museum and coordinated with other volunteers to have materials donated. He worked with an engineering student to repair and greatly enhance our bicycle generator exhibit that generates electricity when you pedal. Clarke not only learns new skills to complete these projects, he adds his own touches—like adding a fan and lightbulb to the bike generator or creating covers out of clear acrylic so students can see the internal wiring. Clarke often solicits donations to upgrade exhibits and will donate materials himself. Currently, he’s heading up a project of converting a 15-passenger bus into a mobile preschool. He works weekends, early mornings—even in the heat—to help get this bus ready for the upcoming school year. Clarke donated 134 hours of his time in June to this project! Since January, he’s donated 434 hours. He’s inspired by the mission of EUREKA! and we are inspired by his generosity, creativity and dedication.

Jeanne Corbett

 Nominated by Adrienne Carlo, Meals on Wheels

Jeanne has delivered meals to homebound seniors for the past five years. She is one individual who goes above and beyond by getting personally involved in the lives of her customers and doing additional tasks besides meal delivery. Each week, she delivers 20+ meals to seniors in Mesa County. She spends time getting to know people and finding out about their lives. She has helped move furniture for those with mobility issues. She has shifted around products in a refrigerator to make it easier for a wheelchair-bound client. Jeanne even moved kitchen appliances to make life more manageable for one of our elderly clients. Her ability to see the needs in others and meet those needs is refreshing. She runs errands and shops for clients on her own time. Jeanne knows all her customers’ birthdays and drops off flowers, cards or gifts. During holidays, she takes extra items to individuals on her home delivery route. She also supports her grandkids in their schools and helps out when needed.

 Patsy Miracle

Nominated by Briana Madison, Heirlooms for Hospice

Patsy has been a HopeWest volunteer since she retired in 2017. Since then, she has given over 2,030 hours to the organization. As an Heirlooms volunteer, she helps us beautifully merchandise the store two days a week. She has an excellent eye for design and color and always brings new ideas on how to make the store look top-notch. Patsy also volunteers one day a week with HopeWest’s Tanglewood group, making brilliant floral bouquets for patients as well as floral arrangements to be sold with proceeds benefitting hospice and palliative care in the Grand Valley. Patsy’s talents are helpful when setting up for all HopeWest galas and events. She is a pleasure to work with and truly an inspiration.

 Roxanne Oglesby

Nominated by Debbie Hoey, Food Bank of the Rockies

Food Bank of the Rockies became acquainted with Roxanne when she relocated to the Western Slope during the height of the pandemic and quickly became a key volunteer. During the crisis, the food bank redesigned and improved our hunger relief programs to safely serve individuals needing food assistance. Since March 2020, we have distributed more food to more people than any other period in our history. This bold response was made possible because of volunteers like Roxanne. Roxanne jumped into volunteering by packing boxes of nutritious food for our drive-thru mobile pantries while recruiting other community members to volunteer alongside her. She took on the responsibility of assembling more teams while concentrating on the objective of helping to meet the hunger needs of our community. It would be difficult to calculate the number of families who had meals due to her amazing efforts, organizational skills and donated time. We know that whenever hunger rises, so can we because of amazing volunteers like Roxanne.

 Marilyn Stroo

Nominated by Kim Dohrman, Mesa County RSVP

Marilyn has been volunteering for Mesa County RSVP since August 2018. In the past three years, she has made a positive impact for SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program), our Medicare counseling program that provides Medicare beneficiaries with unbiased, complementary Medicare counseling services. Marilyn’s work is a vital part of our program. Not only does she individually counsel Medicare beneficiaries, but she also assigns all counseling requests that come into our nonprofit to one of our nine volunteer counselors depending upon individual expertise. Marilyn goes above and beyond to try to find ways to save beneficiaries as much money as possible through financial assistance programs, in addition to assisting with appeals, billing issues and educating the community about our program. Mesa County RSVP is thrilled to call Marilyn a member of our team, and we couldn’t make the impact we do in Mesa County without her knowledge and expertise.

 Jim Scheidt

Nominated by Jenna Kretschman, Roice-Hurst Humane Society

Jim is a constant helpful presence at Roice-Hurst Humane Society. He has given more than 1,250 volunteer hours since summer 2018. Not only is he an expert at handling even our most challenging dogs and cats, but he spends many hours skillfully fixing up our building from installing new dog kennels to repairing broken door handles. Jim goes above and beyond to make meaningful bonds with every pet he interacts with, and his outstanding work greatly improves the quality of each animal’s stay at our shelter. We are so grateful for the opportunity to recognize such an exceptional volunteer.

 Wayne Klahn

Nominated by Tiffany Waugh, Mesa County SOS (Supporting Our Seniors)

Despite shutdowns, mask mandates and increased fear for the health of all Mesa County citizens, eight Supporting Our Seniors volunteers continued to put our seniors first, dedicating their time to bettering seniors’ lives. One of the volunteers, Wayne, stood out because of his immense dedication and caring demeanor during this time. He was willing to help anyone who needed assistance, any day and any time. Without his help during COVID-19, many seniors in Mesa County would have gone without food and would’ve been unable to attend preventive medical appointments. Wayne is one of our most trusted and requested volunteers and has been with the program for over 5 years. He makes our riders feel safe and welcomed. In 2020, Wayne spent over 150 hours volunteering and drove 1,453 miles—even with a dramatic decrease in ride requests due to the pandemic. When asked why he chose to put himself at risk by driving in the community, he said, “I never gave it a second thought.” Just like we never gave a second thought to choosing Wayne as an outstanding volunteer. 

Montrose-Delta Counties Nominees

Montrose and Delta County volunteers will be recognized at Montrose-Delta BeaconFest on Thursday, October 14

Dawn Ullrey 

Nominated by Teresha Taylor, Hilltop Community Resources

Dawn loves giving back to her community. (She has also worked as a firefighter!) She lives in Paonia and has been a volunteer for Hilltop for almost 16 years. She works covering our crisis line for domestic violence and sexual assault almost every Saturday and Sunday for Delta and Montrose counties. This puts her between 192 and 240 hours every month! She is so willing to attend additional training and meetings to make sure she is up to date on the most recent resources. She takes accurate notes and makes sure that staff receive those to be entered into our database. She is one of our most diligent and valued volunteers for Hilltop!

 Liane Muller

Nominated by Lorrine Shide, Montrose Botanical Society

Liane is the garden fairy and gnome that pollinates the Montrose Botanic Gardens with her energy, passion and horticulture expertise. Liane has been a member of the Montrose Botanical Society for many years and dedicates many volunteer hours to fundraisers, maintaining the gardens, as well as coordinating and supervising our valued volunteer teams. She oversees and constantly works in all areas within the gardens on her own time.  She is the respected “go-to gal” when anyone connected to the gardens needs assistance, advice or a friendly/listening ear. As the Children’s Youth & Family Education Coordinator, she creatively organizes and presents free scheduled programs in the gardens. She dedicates many hours a week to the Happy Hollow garden, a hub of raised beds for children including a gnome and fairy garden! We can count on Liane to assist the gardens’ efforts from pruning roses and hand-watering drought-stricken trees to teaching a family how to plant a Garden of Giants and demonstrating how important worms are in the gardens. It is with strong conviction that we nominate Liane for her generous devotion.

 Jim Wendt

Nominated by Richard Fike, Museum of the Mountain West

Jim has gone above and beyond as a volunteer. He has received several 5-star ratings naming him personally as an excellent tour guide with Museum of the Mountain West. He will come in when called and stay to help well after closing. Jim comes with a smile to his voice and in western gear for his character. 

 John Hutchison

Nominated by Debra Muzikar, Blue Sage Center for the Arts

John developed and organized the building in the outdoor space behind the Blue Sage Center for the Arts so that we could have outdoor events. He built a stage and tables and installed a commercial tent with footers. Our older population is loving the outdoor meeting space, but especially our Friday night happy hours where people gather and listen to live local music. John has also helped Elsewhere Studios and the Creamery Art Center and other nonprofits.

 Mary Jo St. Jean

Nominated by Marcia Melvin

Mary Jo lives to volunteer! She is well known in Delta for her volunteer work and has a full volunteering schedule each week. If asked, she will make time to take on more volunteer duties. She also volunteers to visit with seniors that are housebound. Mary Jo has a kind heart and a warm smile. You can’t help being amazed at her volunteering spirit.

 Pat & Bob Brown

Nominated by Kathryn Burke, Montrose Center for the Arts

Pat and Bob manage the gallery at Montrose Center for the Arts. They hang shows, attend events and serve on boards and committees. They are the most reliable, consistent volunteers the art center has.