RSVP volunteers are all lifetime achievers
NEW CASTLE – Hollywood came to New Castle Saturday for an Oscar ceremony, with the added benefit that none of the honorees rattled off endless thank-you lists.Rather, they were the recipients of the profound thanks of High County RSVP at its 31st annual volunteer recognition and awards program, held at Riverside Middle School. Nearly 200 people attended, receiving a red-carpet treatment that included lunch with menu items including Charlie Chaplin chicken and Shirley Temple beverages, music by the Heart of the Rockies band, movie popcorn at the tables and film posters lining the walls.Every one of the 501 people who participated in RSVP last year is deserving of a lifetime achievement award. Combined, they contributed more than 78,000 hours of volunteer service to local communities last year.”You’re all so special and dear to us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Gwen Stephenson, director of senior programs for Colorado Mountain College.Singled out for the luncheon’s highest award was Evelyn Metzger. She is coordinator of the meal program at Carbondale Senior Housing and also a volunteer at Heritage Park Care Center, where she’s known for the massages she gives and the animal therapy she provides with her dog, Hope.The award Metzger received is named for the late Paul Lappala, who along with his wife, Ginny, was instrumental in RSVP getting its initial grant in 1973. Lappala also volunteered for the Mount Sopris Nordic Council.A phenomenal 35 people nominated Metzger for the award.”She is appreciated by her friends,” said RSVP director Cheryl Cain.In an interview, Metzger, 75, expressed “sheer shock” at winning the honor.She said she has volunteered at Heritage Park since it first opened, and it’s nice to be recognized for her efforts.She also described what motivates her as a volunteer – a philosophy that probably would apply to many RSVP members.”You get back everything you give away so you have to give away good stuff,” she said.Lots of other RSVP stars besides Metzger won rave reviews Saturday. This is just a sampling of the praise Cain doled out:• About Ann Lennon, who started the meal program at New Castle Senior Housing: “She does everything and she makes everybody at the meal site feel special.”• About Bev Gray, an active volunteer in the Parachute area: “She’s one of those people that gets things done. She doesn’t just talk about it.”• About RSVP “Super Heroes” Ralph Koehler, Don Edgar and Bill Prehm: “They’re known for their selfless, generous nature, the fact that they’re go-to guys in their communities.”The ultimate example of the RSVP volunteer spirit may have been provided Saturday by Mary Elder, who was recognized for the 16,225 lifetime hours she has given to RSVP – the most by anybody.”She is so far and above anyone else’s hours that it’s just absolutely stunning,” Cain said.Elder only increased her lead Saturday, in lieu of attending the award ceremony.”She is volunteering today, and she would not leave her volunteer post,” Cain said.
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