Gallacher named 2008 Garfield County Humanitarian of the Year |

Gallacher named 2008 Garfield County Humanitarian of the Year

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Toward the end of the 20th annual Garfield County Humanitarian Service Awards Banquet, Martha Fredendall quoted Walter Gallacher’s son, Dylan Gallacher, from a nomination letter he wrote, as she introduced Walter as the recipient of the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year Award.

“Because of my father, I consider the mark I leave on the world much more often,” wrote Dylan Gallacher. “I wish my dad could teach everyone as much as he taught me.”

Walter Gallacher received the night’s top honor Monday evening in the Devereux Room at the Hotel Colorado surrounded by the community that he’s embraced for so long, and in so many ways.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent, formerly the Glenwood Post, in cooperation with the Garfield County Human Services Commission began the Humanitarian Awards 20 years ago to honor county residents, like Gallacher, whose volunteer efforts have made a difference in the communities in which they live.

“I am so humbled and so proud to be a part of Garfield County,” Gallacher said in his acceptance speech.

Gallacher donates much of his free time to helping several organizations in the community. Most recently, Gallacher has been involved with Literacy Outreach, and with the Roaring Fork School district’s Pre-collegiate Programs as a volunteer mentor, where he’s worked with a group of 13 students for the past three years to prepare them for college.

As a photographer he’s known to donate his talent to the causes of Literacy Outreach, Summer of Jazz, the Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Community Integration Initiative. His work with the Community Integration Initiative involved assisting Lutheran Family Services to help West African refugees integrate into Glenwood society.

In the past he’s taught basic literacy skills to Rifle Correctional Center inmates, was also a Colorado Mountain College instructor and marketing director, and was previously the school’s dean of students.

He’s the driving force behind Immigrant Stories, published in the Post Independent on Mondays, which stemmed from his time with the Community Integration Initiative. He thanked the organization for allowing him to participate in its cause and to tell the people’s stories.

“It’s really important to remember that we all come from somewhere and that we are all immigrants,” he said. “I am so thankful and I am so truly blessed, thank you.”

Other recipients at the Garfield County Humanitarian Service Awards include:

– Bruce Lewis received the Volunteer Award for his many volunteer efforts. He is a past president of the Garden School board of directors and has helped out for years with maintenance work at the Advocate Safehouse. In 2008, he volunteered to be project manager for the a remodeling project with the Advocate Safehouse. It’s estimated that Bruce volunteered more than 500 hours to that project alone.

Bruce also spent more than a year restoring the First Presbyterian Church and has for years maintained the cross atop Red Mountain.

– John and June Zacharias were awarded the Volunteer Couple Award because of their exemplary attitude of caring for their neighbors and friends.

The couple is known for their help at the United Methodist Church, where they both volunteer with church dinners. John also helps out each Sunday with operating the church’s sound system for the minister and the choir, while June regularly contributes to the Prayer Shawl ministry.

Both serve on various church committees. John is currently the vice chair of the church’s board of trustees, and June served as secretary of the United Methodist’s Women’s Organization for five years.

The pair also give time outside of the church as well. John is active with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Auxiliary of Battlement Mesa, and spends a lot of his time helping out at the Valley Senior Center, where he helps with bingo on Saturday and serves lunches on Wednesday.

June contributes four hours per week at the Mesa Vista Assisted Living and also spends time at the senior center with John, where she contributes in several ways.

– In the Youth category Rifle High School senior Karen Barraza took the award. Barraza has volunteered at the Grand River Hospital District, offered assistance with translation and tutoring at school, worked as a high school office assistant, volunteered with LIFT-UP, and participated in the first class of the Girl Scouts of Colorado Challenge and Change Leadership Program.

– In the Staff category, Lynn Renick, division manager of the Garfield County Department of Human Services, took the award. Renick has control of numerous departments with more than 90 employees and numerous budgets. She has also donated much of her time serving on several committees including Child Help River Bridge, Fatherhood, Crime Victim Compensation Board and the Garfield County Human Service Grant Review Committee.

Renick commented that, “It’s been a wonderful 15 years with Garfield County, and I really appreciate this. Thanks.”

– The Senior Humanitarian Award went to Mackenzie “Mac” Burnett. Mac Volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Grand River Hospital District, Habitat for Humanity and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and delivers meals at Christmas.

He’s also considered an “every day of the week kind of guy” to those who know him because he is willing to help out any day of the week.

The night began with a moment of silence to remember the late Karolyn Spencer, who founded Feed My Sheep Ministries in Glenwood Springs in 2003. Spencer was also a Humanitarian Award recipient in 2005 for her efforts in supporting the local homeless community. Spencer passed away on Feb. 28; a service will be held for her Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Mountain View Church in Glenwood.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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