New Castle chooses its Volunteer of the Year
Ryan Summerlin May 1, 2013
NEW CASTLE — Debbie Bonkiewicz was named New Castle Volunteer of the Year on
April 27 at a volunteer recognition picnic sponsored by the town government
and organized by the Volunteer New Castle organization.
Bonkiewicz is a volunteer at the River Center nonprofit, working with
various entities to provide food and other supplies to needy families in the
Silt-New Castle area.
She moved to New Castle in 2010, after retiring from more than 30 years of
service with State Farm Insurance, primarily in the Greeley region. She and
her husband, Mike, have three daughters.
When Bonkiewicz arrived in New Castle, according to friends, she started
volunteering at Elk Creek Elementary in the school library and then joined
the volunteers at River Center.
Bonkiewicz started a team through the River Center called the School
Outreach Team, which is comprised of all ages and works to help the families
in the community, specifically through the schools.
Among the projects of Bonkiewicz’s School Outreach Team are:
€ Kids Totes for Hope, which provides weekend bags of nonperishable food for
more than 230 children each week during the school year.
€ Back to School Supply Drive, held every summer, provides school supplies
to public schools for distribution to kids who need them.
€ Summer Food Outreach provides food for hungry children during the summer
€ Winter Coat Drive, held every October, collects winter outerwear and
€ Angel Tree New Castle/Silt provides a Christmas gift for needy children in
€ Ongoing support for local schools, which includes bike helmets, supplies
for health clerks, etc.
“Deb is an extremely caring person who goes the extra mile to meet the most
pressing needs in our community and take care of her team of over 50
volunteers,” said Lee Price, director of River Center, who pointed out that
Bonkiewicz also volunteers each week at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rifle.
The picnic took place at Burning Mountain Park. The local Lions Club was in
charge of cooking brats for the barbecue, Village Inn provided pies for
dessert, PepsiCo donated beverages, and Intermountain Distributors provided
paper plates, flatware and other utensils.