RIFLE — There were hard hats, detour signs and orange safety cones, but it wasn’t a construction site. It was the scene of Grand River Health’s 2014 Volunteer Gala to honor the many volunteers who perform countless hours of service raising money, delivering meals, working in the gift shop and assisting patients in whatever way is needed.
The theme of this year’s event was “Volunteers Building Today, Bettering Tomorrow,” and nearly 200 people were in attendance.
“You are a very important part of the hospital,” Jim Coombs, CEO of Grand River Hospital District addressed the volunteers. “You really help us look good. You help us in all that you do. The time that you give of yourself is priceless.”
Vicky Martinez of Rifle volunteers in pre-op, where patients are prepped before they go in for surgery. Sometimes they need someone to pray with them and sometimes just to hold their hand.
“I love it,” Martinez said over dinner. “The people are so nice and grateful. You feel like you’re doing something worthwhile and giving back.”
Lois Scripter of Rifle has done a lot of volunteer work in the community with the Girl Scouts and coaching softball and has been a volunteer with the Meals On Wheels program for the past nine years.
“I’m just egotistical enough, especially with the teenagers, to think that I can make a difference,” Scripter said with a laugh. “Instead of pointing out what needs to be done, I thought, why not me?”
After dinner, amidst jokes and raffle prizes, Kaaren Peck, director of volunteer services, honored the volunteers by their hours of service that ranged from 75 to 500 per year.
She recognized those who have helped in the success of events and programs, including the Grand Chance for Chocolate, March for Meals, Grand River Gallop, A Grand Wine Affair, Stitches From the Heart, Meals On Wheels. She also lauded those who volunteer in the hospital gift shop, trainers who provide pet therapy services to patients and the hard work of young adult volunteers.
Susan Tofts was awarded for “Above and Beyond” service with comments from her peers applauding her “wonderful attitude,” “warm, caring glow” and the fact she would “do anything for anybody.”
The Volunteer Family of the Year was a first-time award that went to the Sheridan family for more than 300 hours of volunteer service.
Peck gave some clues before announcing the name of the Volunteer of the Year.
“She wanted to start a pet therapy program here and for the last 4-5 years, she has held two pet therapy training classes at E. Dene Moore,” Peck said.
The slide projector showed a picture of the recipient’s two dogs, Molly and Riley, who had worked as therapy dogs, providing comfort and companionship to patients.
“They have since passed, but they worked their way into our hearts,” Peck said with emotion.
Sandy Sekeres received a standing ovation when her name was announced.
The final award was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Annick Pruett, director of Community Relations.
“This Rifle native is fearless and spunky with a can-do and will-do attitude,” Pruett said. “She’s a published author, historian, adjunct professor at CMC, and a columnist for the Citizen Telegram. She’s logged in 1,500 volunteer hours, and that’s only since we started keeping track.”
The list included the volunteer’s work with the Rifle library, the Rifle Creek Historical Society and the Information Center.
“And you can find her every Monday in the gift shop,” Pruett said.
Using a walker, Betty Clifford slowly made her way up to the podium as the crowd stood and applauded.
“You are an inspiration to all of us,” Pruett said. “You are the epitome of what every community member should strive to be.”
Clifford accepted her plaque and then started to head back to her seat before deciding she wanted to say something.