Garfield County honors Humanitarian Service Awards recipients |

Garfield County honors Humanitarian Service Awards recipients

Alex Zorn

Garfield County Humanitarian Service Award recipients for 2018 were recognized Monday night at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.

This year’s recipients are Miguel Gonzalez, Inspiring Youth; Marcie Wenzel, Immeasurable Energy Award; Tom Ice, The Heart of the Operation Award; and Celeste Barnett, Contagious Passion Award.

Wenzel has been employed by Mountain Valley Developmental for more than 22 years.

“Her work as a direct services professional has had a positive influence on the hundreds of individuals she has served, and on her co-workers,” according to her nominators.

“I certainly did not expect it,” Wenzel said. “I had prepared a couple words because I knew I was nominated, but I never imagined I’d go home with an award.”

One of her clients wrote in nominating her for the award, “Marcie has worked with us for 22 years; she is always there when we need her.”

Another nominator wrote, “She always goes above and beyond the call of duty, and shares her kindness and wisdom with everyone in her humble way. Marcie has a calm way of always encouraging and supporting our individuals to reach for their dreams, learn to become independent, and develop connections with our wonderful and accepting community. Marcie is a humanitarian in her daily life in and out of her work at Mountain Valley.”

Wenzel called the award, which recognized her energy and enthusiasm, a complete shock and said Monday night was one of the most memorable nights of her life.

“I just love the work I do,” she said. “I can’t even call it work.”

It’s more a “labor of love” as she describes it.

Grand River Health and LIFT-UP volunteer Miguel Gonzalez, a student at Rifle High School, gives back to his community in a variety of ways.

“I don’t really know what to say,” he said. “It feels good to be recognized by my community.”

Gonzalez helped to start Western Garfield County’s Friday Meal Monkey program, which delivers lunches to hundreds of local children in need.

He is also a member of the National Honor Society and is described as “the student you want to have in your classroom” by teachers.

“[Volunteering] lets me get closer to my community and the people in it,” he said. “It’s much more than just giving back.”

Ice was recognized for his dedication and perseverance as the president of Garfield County Search and Rescue all-volunteer organization.

Ice said he knew he was nominated, but it was a big surprise to learn he’d be going home with an award Monday night.

“There were a lot of really impressive people with a lot of very impressive humanitarian backgrounds,” he said.

Ice read some of the letters nominating him and added how nice it was to be appreciated.

“He is a humble man, who leads others on missions to save those who are hurt or lost,” the county’s press release announcing this year’s awards stated.

“That doesn’t mean Tom is the person in the office, as he is a crucial team leader and member who goes out in the field, despite the often adverse conditions, to help those in need. He leads others, and is an expert in search and rescue techniques and efforts to ensure saving lives. In addition, he is a quiet, reassuring person, who provides a calm presence for those waiting for news of their loved ones.”

The other Humanitarian Award recipient — Celeste Barnett — could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.

Barnett works for the Garfield County Probation Department where she started over 13 years ago, and is described as “one of those rare individuals who has clients glad they are on probation.”

“Her passion is working with female probation clients,” the county press release stated. “She makes it clear to all in the office that she is available 24/7 if one of her clients needs her. Her clients struggle with drug addiction, domestic violence, legal issues and more.”

Barnett was instrumental in creating the Female Offender Program at the probation department, which is designed to move women offenders toward sobriety and empowerment.

“Celeste does not just do her job, she truly believes in her clients, and does everything she can to move each woman to better her situation,” one nominator wrote. “Because of her, women are recovering and their lives are being restored.”

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