Schaffner named Humanitarian of Year |

Schaffner named Humanitarian of Year

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Youth leader Patty Schaffner, working in the background to “touch countless lives in large and small ways,” accepted the 2011 Garfield County Humanitarian Service Countywide Award Monday.

“We in Garfield County have been truly blessed to have this wonderful servant in our midst for the past 31 years. Her name is Patty,” said Garfield County Commissioner John Martin in announcing the award for Schaffner.

It was the top honor awarded Monday to a field of 17 nominees recognized as outstanding humanitarians, including an entire church congregation, for the 23rd annual Garfield County Humanitarian Service Awards.

The awards event is sponsored by the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, the Garfield County Human Services Commission and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

More than 200 people packed the Devereux Room at the Hotel Colorado to honor the nominees, representing seniors, youth, staff, organizations and a new category, visionary founders.

Each nominee was recognized with a presentation, a red rose and a framed certificate, and the Garfield County commissioners presented top humanitarian awards to one nominee in each category.

In addition to Schaffner, the winners were John Breckinridge as the senior humanitarian, Melea Sheridan as the young adult humanitarian, and Debbie Bath as the staff humanitarian. The First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs won the Collective Grace award and Rosie McSwain won the Visionary Founder award.

For those attending the heartwarming evening, it was clear that all 17 nominees are winners who stand out for their many ways of providing humanitarian service in Garfield County.

Some of the winners were bashful in their moment of recognition.

“There are so many kind and wonderful things being said about this guy John Breckinridge, there must be two of us. And I sure hope he’s the other one,” said Breckinridge, the senior winner, earning a roomful of laughter.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody, especially to my mom and my dad,” said Sheridan, the youth winner.

“I am so honored to be associated with this incredible pool of nominees,” said Bath, the staff winner, who then passed the credit on to the staff and volunteers of Access Roaring Fork.

“Not often am I speechless,” said McSwain, founder of Tom’s Door. “This is a huge honor.”

McSwain, too, credited her family and the many volunteers that help her organization raise and distribute funds for those in need.

“I pledge my best to keep on going, to keep on helping and being the best person I can be,” McSwain added.

Pastor Michael Ingersoll accepted the Collective Grace award for the First United Methodist Church, which has opened its doors for years to a wide array of groups that use its sanctuary, fellowship hall and kitchen to “work miracles.”

“I want to say thank you to the members of the church who dig deep in their pockets and support the church,” Ingersoll said. “It’s a holy place where miracles do take place.”

Schaffner said she accepted the award on behalf of all 17 nominees and the dozens of people who wrote letters of nomination.

“This community is full of humanitarians, just a few of them in this room,” she said. And she offered a challenge for her fellow nominees and all in the room “to continue to give of your hearts and your talents in serving others.”

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