Gov. Hickenlooper recognizes area health volunteers
September 10, 2018
Two Garfield County volunteers were recognized statewide last week, as former Rifle High School student Miguel Gonzalez and Glenwood Springs resident Bob Spuhler received the 2018 Governor's Service Awards. They were among 10 individuals or organizations to be recognized.
"These volunteers inspire hope. They are making people's lives better and creating positive change in our communities," said Gov. John Hickenlooper at the Sept. 4 ceremony in Denver. "We owe them a special thanks as they build and support our love of place."
For the past 20 years, individuals and organizations throughout the state have been recognized as local outstanding volunteers who have made "profound change" in their communities, according to a press release announcing the award recipients.
Spuhler received the Outstanding Senior Corps Volunteer Award.
Spuhler retired in 2008 as the president of Colorado Mountain College and immediately went to work helping those in rural Colorado.
He joined High Country's RSVP's Tax Assistance Program to help senior citizens prepare and file federal and state income taxes. He then joined the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which helps beneficiaries with Medicare, and RSVP's Advisory Council.
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In 2016, he became an ombudsman to help protect the wishes of elderly persons in long-term care facilities in the region.
"Within a very short period of time, Bob's dedication and skill for [work as an ombudsman] became apparent, and within a few months he became Alpine's senior ombudsman," wrote Kim Gent, executive director of Alpine Legal Services, in a letter of support for Spuhler's nomination.
"Bob works tirelessly to help long-term care residents obtain the appropriate legal, social, recreational, physical and emotional services necessary for quality of life with dignity."
Patty Daniells, program director for High Country RSVP, nominated him for the award and said volunteering has become a lifestyle for Spuhler.
"He is always willing to go the extra mile — and always with a smile," she wrote. "When he was on the board of CARE, he adopted a dog named Conner from the shelter who is old and timid, and who nobody else wanted. He is the sweetest dog, and it took a kind soul to recognize that."
Gonzalez, who volunteers at Grand River Meals on Wheels, helped build LIFT-UP's Meal Monkey program, a mobile lunch program that provides free lunches to students on free or reduced lunch in the Garfield School District Re-2, received the Outstanding Volunteer Award.
Kaaren Peck, director of volunteer services for Grand River Hospital, said Gonzalez was such a strong candidate because he not only volunteered for Meals on Wheels and helped build the Meal Monkey program over he past three years, but he went above and beyond to recruit replacements to run the program following his graduation from high school.
"He really wanted to make sure it succeeded after he left," she added.
Gonzalez also received letters of support from LIFT-UP, Peck and former teachers.