County recognizes ‘angels in disguise’
RIFLE — The Garfield County Human Service Commission and county commissioners honored three of the area’s top humanitarians Tuesday night, presenting awards to Rifle Police Officer Dustin Marantino, chef Phil Long and geriatric nurse JoAnn Duffy at the annual Humanitarian Service Awards banquet at Grand River Hospital.
In introducing the candidates, Julie Olson, executive director of Advocate Safehouse, recalled a quote by Tracy Chapman: “I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.”
Also nominated were Alpine Legal Services president Jeanne Doremus, Garfield County victim specialist Vicki Jones, and hospice caretaker Emmy Lerma.
A REAL LIFESAVER
“This is a huge honor to be recognized in the same capacity as some of these other nominees,” Marantino said has he accepted the “Above and Beyond” award.
In addition to his service as a Rifle police officer and former school resource officer, Marantino volunteers for fire and emergency medical services, serves as a driver for Meals on Wheels, and organized a mock DUI and a “Don’t Get Wrecked” safe driving program that included a video that left the room laughing.
He was nominated by Grand River Health volunteer director Kaaren Peck and received letters of support from Rifle Police Chief John Dyer, Colorado River Fire Chief Mike Morgan, former Rifle High School student Makayzia Counts and Grand River Health education coordinator Lynda McFarland Steinbach.
“Dustin is an individual who does not serve his community simply as a career, but truly as a way of life. He truly, and genuinely cares about the safety, health and well being of our citizens,” Morgan wrote. “How many accidents, injuries and perhaps even deaths has Dustin’s efforts prevented? Obviously, I do not know the answer. However, what I do know is that it has helped to make our fragile world safer.”
‘OUR GO-TO GUY’
Long took the “Shirt Off His Back” award as a longtime volunteer for the Glenwood Springs Elks and cosponsor for Sunlight’s Skier Appreciation Day.
For the Elks, Long puts his cooking skills to use giving veterans a taste of Colorado game meat, helping out at Strawberry Days and putting on the group’s Valentine’s Day bash. At Sunlight, he’s turned his birthday celebration into a fundraiser that has raised more than $200,000 for United Way. He has also been known to show up dressed as a sasquatch.
He was nominated by Sunlight Mountain Resort marketing director Jennie Spillane and received letters of support from Kathleen Kline, Billy and Jacque McMillan, Patrick Stowe, Marty Gloria, and Donna Gray.
“Phil Long has long been our go-to guy because of his ability and willingness to take on big projects and do a great job,” Kline wrote. “He is enthusiastic, a great chef, kind, considerate and very generous of his time and his grill.”
Long, who also boasts a Presidential Service Award, was humble in his brief acceptance speech.
“Thank you one and all and please pay it forward whenever you have the chance,” he said.
‘DEEP IN HER VEINS’
Duffy’s “Young at Heart” award comes on the heels of 40 years as a nurse and 35 years as a volunteer at Grand River Hospital. Her commitment to the elderly is manifest both in personal care and in service on several boards, including the Garfield County Council on Aging.
She was nominated by her patient Mary Jane Hangs, and received letters of support from Peck, senior programs manager Judy Martin, and her children Shannon Jewell and Mike Watson.
“JoAnn was volunteering before it became in vogue and politically correct,” Martin wrote. “The years of giving are amazing. Volunteering runs deep in her veins.”
Her spirit of caring began at home, supporters said, and Duffy credited her loved ones in her short speech.
“I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that all of you have given me, supporting me all these years. My friends and my family have never said, ‘No, you can’t do that,’” she said. “You do what you want to do and you serve as you want to serve.”
Literacy Outreach executive director Martha Fredendall topped the evening off by asking the audience a question originally posed by Charles Schultz.
She challenged attendees to name the five wealthiest people in the world, or 10 Nobel prize winners, or the last few Academy Award best actor and actresses.
“None of us remember the headliners of yesterday,” she said. “Applause dies, awards tarnish, achievements are forgotten.”
Instead, she asked them to remember a teacher who made a difference, a friend who helped them through a difficult time or someone who taught them something worthwhile.
“The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They’re the ones who care about you,” she told the room. “And I know that every single person in this room cares.”
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.