In April, Garfield County presented seven Humanitarian Service Awards at a sold out event in Rifle. As each nominee was announced and their virtues extolled, it be came clear that every one of the 23 candidates were worthy of recognition. Each boasted a stack of letters recounting how they had gone above and beyond. Here is some of what was said about those who did not receive an award that night:
• Gretchen Brogdon was the manager of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) in Garfield County and recently accepted a position with Colorado Department of Human Services as PREP grant manager.
“She is able to teach a difficult subject matter in a way that is appropriate for the age of the students,” wrote Carolyn Hardin, supervisor for Healthy Families America and Partners for a Healthy Baby. “Perhaps most importantly, Gretchen’s PREP program is succeeding in decreasing teen pregnancies in Garfield County.”
• Rifle Police Officer Carlos Cornejo does a pro bono talk show on KQXE and is a driver for Meals on Wheels. John Dyer, chief of police in Rifle, spoke highly of Cornejo in his nomination letter. “Officer Cornejo’s ambitions, intelligence, and accomplishments make him highly deserving of the honor and opportunity bestowed by the Humanitarian Award,” he said.
• Marice Doll spreads her time between Symphony in the Valley, the Historic Preservation Commission and other endeavors in the performing arts. “Marice’s commitment to the arts and her tireless enthusiasm for community service combine into a powerhouse of promotion, funding and staging of musical, theatrical and cultural presentations,” wrote Steve Smith, orchestra manager of Symphony in the Valley.
• Thaddeus and Makenzie Eschelman operate Defiance Strength and Conditioning.
“This power couple has physically and emotionally strengthened the community,” wrote Christine Smalley, a social studies teacher at Glenwood Springs High School. “The Eschelmans’ precious contributions to this valley make us healthier, stronger, kinder, more generous, and feel more connected to each other.”
• Julie Fite is the Western Regional Coordinator for Colorado’s Special Olympics. Jen Anast-Clark, vice president of competition and area services for the program, wrote that “[Julie’s] commitment to individuals with disabilities shines not only through the events that she manages but in the way she constantly advocates for better possibilities for all of her constituents.”
• Claudia Flores-Montes is a family advocate for Rocky Mountain SER’s Head Start Program. “I can honestly say that Claudia Flores is the most selfless, humble, caring, respectful and insightful person I have ever known,” wrote Nicole Loschke. “Her calming, caring, positive attitude allows anyone she interacts with to share their most personal problems and concerns with her.”
• Arlene Law was a founding member of the Glenwood Springs Art Guild and coordinates the Fall Art Festival. Bonnie Daniels called her the “Grand Dame of the artistic community,” adding that, “there is no one that can match what this woman has done for the advancement of the arts in Garfield County.”
• Joe O’Donnell previously served as president of the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club, where he organized the “Kids Against Hunger” event. He has also been on the Two Rivers Community Foundation board for three years. “Joe has a heart for service, respect for others, and a commitment to excellence. He has a ‘get it done’ attitude and appears to have boundless drive and energy,” wrote LeAnn Zetmeir, Kiwanis Rocky Mountain district governor. “Joe inspires others by his persistence and his unbridled generosity. Joe is an example of responsibility and integrity of the highest order.”
• Francis Orosz runs Roaring Fork Rentals while Lisa Orosz owns a Beauty Parlor. The pair are heavily involved in the schools, volunteering time for sports set up, chaperoning or helping seniors apply for scholarships. “Fran and Lisa are always the first to sign up to help at a track meet or help with feeding the athletes or to assist with fundraising,” reflected Blake Risner, head track and field coach at Glenwood Springs High School.
• Kaaren Peck, director of volunteer services at Grand River Hospital, oversaw the Young Adult Program, Medical Silhouettes and Gracenotes. She is also involved with the Rifle Rotary, High Country RSVP Advisory Council, Raising a Reader, New Hope Church and the Garden School. Rick Blauvelt, executive director of Raising a Reader, called Peck “an unsung community hero.” “Kaaren lives what she teaches by modeling volunteerism and community commitment,” he added.
• Kirsten Petre McDaniel is the executive director of YouthEntity, formerly Computers for Kids.
“She is always searching for ways the program can innovate and change with the needs of our community and our students,” wrote Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko. “Her relentless service to our community and our youth make her an excellent example of what this award represents.”
• Beth Shaw, as dean of Business and Industry at Colorado Mountain College, oversaw the creation of GarCo Sewing Works. “GarCo Sewing Works would not exist as a model of success without Beth’s guidance and expertise,” wrote Jill Ziemann, director of Go2Work Programs at CMC. “Beth’s consistency and emphasis on quality has raised these students’ personal standards, self-esteem and belief in themselves.”
• Doug Sheffer was nominated posthumously for his work with DBS Helicopters in rescue and surveying. “I can tell you that countless lives were saved because of Doug, his chopper and his flying skills,” recounted Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. “I have no doubt that the countless people he rescued remember him, talk about him when retelling their rescue adventure, and have been forever touched by him.”
• Ginny Schroeder is the board president for Literacy Outreach. Martha Fredendall, director of Literacy Outreach, described Schroeder’s contributions. “Ginny’s help is the ‘real’ kind of help,” she wrote. “She was not the center of attention; almost no one knew she was doing the work; she received no recognition and very little thanks. She did it because she knew it would make a lasting difference for the organization and it has.”
• Seth Van De Riet runs the Satori Healthcare Clinic in Glenwood, which provides alternative medicine and counseling.
Roberta and Tatnall Hillman called Van De Riet “a visionary.” “Seth acts and treats his clients without judgement, whether he is treating simple addictions or destructive behavior,” they wrote. “He is knowledgeable and skilled in many disciplines, and has a wide knowledge of health products that can help cure ailments.”