Garfield County humanitarians recognized at annual Human Service Awards night
Longtime Search and Rescue volunteer Lanny Grant maybe summed up the guiding purpose for this year’s Garfield County Humanitarian Award recipients best when he quoted Mahatma Gandhi during Monday night’s ceremonies.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” he recited upon being named one of the Humble Hero Award recipients at the annual event held this year at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.
Grant was one of four human service workers or volunteers who were bestowed with this year’s awards. The others were fellow Humble Hero Soira Ceja, Pioneer Award recipient Kelly Keeffe, and winner of this year’s Lifetime Dedication Award, Dr. Greg Feinsinger.
The awards event is sponsored by the Garfield County Human Services Commission. This year, there were nine nominees put forward by friends, family and coworkers.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired after 42 years as a family physician in Glenwood Springs, was honored for his post-retirement efforts to provide free health and nutrition consultations through the nonprofit Center for Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He was also instrumental in establishing another nonprofit, La Clinica del Pueblo (The People’s Clinic), providing free medical services to the uninsured and low-income people in the community.
“Undoubtedly, his services have decreased the impact of the very well-known gaps in access and affordability of medical care in our valley,” County Commissioner Mike Samson said in presenting the award. “The majority of his patients are Latinos who have not seen a doctor in a long time or have chronic diseases that are unmanaged, because they can’t afford to pay for health care.”
Feinsinger said the People’s Clinic is a joint effort, involving many from the Latino community itself.
“It’s good to get the word out about what we do, and that health is not just about pills and procedures, it’s about achieving an optimal lifestyle,” Feinsinger said.
In addition to being a volunteer member of Garfield County Search and Rescue since 1997, Grant has been an elected member of the organization’s board for more than 25 years and serves as a deputy coroner for the county.
He has also served on the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, the Colorado Snowmobile Club Board and has supported the annual Sunlight Heathen backcountry ski race.
“It has been noted that this individual has been compassionate and kind to hundreds of people during what might be one of the most unsettling and frightening experiences of their lives; being stranded or injured in the backcountry or having a family member stranded or injured,” Samson said in presenting one of two Humble Hero awards to Grant.
“We have almost 50 members, so I’ve always believed it’s about the whole team,” Grant said of receiving the award. “We get called away any time of day or night, usually in terrible weather — it’s a big commitment and a lot goes into it.”
Ceja was described as “a person of noble character, compassionate, a mother to all, a humble servant …”
During the summer, she cooks for residents of Herons’ Nest in Silt, and has been an advocate for food insecurity, creating a campaign called “Hunger does not have to be a secret.”
She and her husband, Adrian, are also among the few Latino foster parents in Garfield County.
“Her love of the youth and families in this area are evident with her work in helping families not only by providing a home, food and other necessities, but by also helping others provide a safe place, as well,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in presenting the award.
“Everything we do in our work to help others we do not for ourselves, but for the community,” Ceja said upon receiving the award.
Keeffe has worked for the past dozen or so years to address health disparities in the region as a dental hygienist working with the Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance (APDHA). In 2010, Keeffe was hired as one of the first regional Oral Health Specialists in the state.
And Keeffe’s work to create the Smiles for Students program helped provide dental hygiene services to students in 16 Garfield County schools.
“Our recipient works to promote social reform by shifting the paradigm in oral health from disease management to early detection and prevention measures,” Jankovsky noted in presenting the Pioneer Award to Keeffe.
Keeffe said it’s important to bring attention to oral health and its connection to a person’s overall health.
“The community recognizes that concept is a great thing,” Keeffe said.
The other nominees for the Garfield County Human Service Awards this year were: Betty Lucas, Roaring Fork Schools Family Resource Center Community Response Supervisor; Cristina Gair, West Mountain Regional Health Alliance; Lori Brumbaugh, early childhood instructional facilitator in the Roaring Fork Schools; Tiffany Lindenberg, Fitness and Wellness and Senior Programs Supervisor for Glenwood Springs Recreation; and Maureen Kerr, volunteer for Windwalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center, Kiwanis Club member and volunteer ski ambassador at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-384-9160.
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