Story by Susan Poulter – Photos by Janet Koelling/American Red Cross
Volunteerism…defined as, “the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for any financial reward,” would seem to be enough of a definition, until you witness the faces and hearts of American Red Cross volunteers come alive at the Annual Volunteer Recognition Event.
As CEO for the American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming, Gino Greco opened the evening emphasizing that, “volunteers are the strength and backbone of the Red Cross, he then handed over the first business of the evening to Tisha Schuller, Chair of the Mile-High Board of Directors.
Together all attendees resounded an “AYE” to elect five new Board of Director Member candidates; Carrie Horton; Robert O’Toole, Fernando Gray Sr, Monica Williams, and Michael Cancro and in addition, the re-election of five candidates for a second term; Mark Mathews, Lori O’Flaherty, Dr. David Markenson, Norm
Franke, and Christian Anschutz.
Much to the surprise, to the long-standing member of the Red Cross family, Jackie Norris, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the election as a Lifetime Honorary Board Member was awarded to her!
Passing the reins to Ashley Turner, Volunteer Services Manager for the Mile High Chapter, the award presentations for the evening began. First recipient was granted to Valerie Warkins, for the Outstanding Youth Award. Valerie is the leader of her high school Red Cross Club in Boulder, and has created practical, hands-on ways for her peers to get involved in their community. From marching in parades, to staffing information tables at local preparedness fairs, to training her team to assist with public affairs through all social media platforms., she is involved. She proactively led her team in a number of fundraising efforts related to the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
The presentations moved to the Unsung Heroes Awards, those volunteers who quietly and caringly complete their tasks to support the Red Cross Mission. These volunteers included; Diana Bush, Eric Cahn, Connie Hunt, and Jim Lenyo. These individuals support the Volunteer Services team, Services to the Armed Forces, Pillowcase Project, Client Casework and Disaster Services.
Next, Katie Fisk, Disaster Program Manager, was asked to present the B.J. Coyle Passion for Service Award, to two volunteers this year, Hannah Price and Lynda Monsey.
As a member of the Disaster Workforce Engagement team, Hannah has given many hours of support and encouragement to new volunteers as they join the Red Cross. When Hurricane Maria hit, Hannah was deployed on the COWY Regional Strike team, and when help was needed with the Lakewood roof collapse, Hannah’s commitment is unstoppable.
Lynda leads the Mile-High Chapter Health Services team, deploying to Vegas and assisting with a home fire victim that lost both parents. As a full time volunteer she is often present in shelters and healthcare coalition meetings to expand her scope of service.
The next two awards, Outstanding Teams, were presented to the Arapahoe/Douglas Disaster Action Teams, led by an outstanding volunteer leader, Maureen Kelly, and to Dan Childs and Elizabeth Ackerman from the Active Threat Preparedness Program, who were in England at the time of the event. A note accepting this award echoed other recipients during evening, saying, “they respect the work of the Red Cross and their commitment to the Active Shooter, Stop the Bleed and Hands only CPR training efforts and their leader Juilanna Lochte, Regional Community Partnership Services Lead.”
After cheers had been shared from across the pond, Jackie Norris presented Sue Edwards with the Volunteer Leadership Award. Sue is the Volunteer Lead for Disaster Mental Health Services. In one week, she was at an evacuation center on a Wednesday evening, a disaster recovery center the next night as well as on the following day, then Friday she came into the office to meet with a client that lost two parents in a fire, and on the Saturday had a meeting with her Disaster Mental Health team! Easily a 40-hour week!
Gino Greco had the honors of presenting the next Outstanding Leadership Award to Edward
O’Brien. Eds’ Public Affairs/Communications volunteer leadership really came in handy this past year. During the extraordinary response to the hurricanes of 2017, he stepped in to fill the leadership role in the Region for communications.
Ed managed the PA-On Call team as the region continued the daily response to home fires, ensuring the local story continued to be covered with the media. Ed provided support to the Regional CEO and kept the information flowing between the deployed communications and the internal team. He managed the staffing of speakers for multiple telethons, which helped raise millions of dollars for the efforts. Ed has given more than 6 years of service to the American Red Cross and he has logged more than 450 hours in the past year.
The Volunteer of the Year Award is normally bestowed upon one volunteer, however this year, two skilled and committed recipients are, Suzanne Faerber and Al Lattof.
Suzanne is the Volunteer Lead for the Emergency Response Vehicle – and this was a very busy year! She works diligently to ensure the fleet of ERVs and the teams to support the program are Red Cross Ready. She takes great care in monitoring and supporting the training of her volunteer team.
Suzanne ensures that every ERV driver deployed out of the Mile-High Chapter is properly trained and confident in being able to operate the ERV to support our clients. She regularly hosts the Ready Set Roll course, which trains ERV drivers, and supports the program by conducting the road tests for her team. Because of the 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires, there was a huge influx of new volunteers, many of who were interested in the ERV position. Suzanne, with her calm, capable manner, got them trained and engaged as she was being deployed herself!
The second Volunteer of the Year is Al Lattof. He single-handedly built the fully functioning database for the Active Shooter Program. This database was presented at the Colorado Emergency Management Association and will soon be offered as a tool for the entire Emergency Management community of this region at the Active Shooter Academy in September. Al dedicates many hours, every week, and on weekends, to support the Red Cross work in a myriad of ways. He takes his work profoundly seriously, always without any expectation of recognition, is a shining example of volunteer commitment.
The amazing evening concluded with a request to all volunteers to stand, and to sit when their years of service were announced. Multiple individuals acknowledged 5, 10, 20, 30 years and even a few stood for 40 years of Red Cross service. The final award and pin was bestowed to Harry Ladewig for 50 years of service. Harry has been a volunteer in Health and Safety Services over the years, as well as his current involvement in Disaster Cycle Services. He’s an ERV driver, and Shelter and Bulk Distribution Associate, and “He always says yes, when he is called for deployment!” A true Red Cross Superman
A special thank you to all those staff members and volunteers for creating this amazing event and for honoring the hundreds of committed volunteers that work tirelessly on behalf of the American Red Cross Mission. A special mention is extended to Janet Koelling, one of our dedicated volunteer photographers, for all of the photos taken for the event.
More photos can be seen on our FLickr page.