Grand River recognizes volunteers at annual gala |

Grand River recognizes volunteers at annual gala

Ryan Hoffman
Nell Struwe receives the lifetime achievement award at the Grand River Hospital District's annual volunteer gala Friday.
Dee Warwick / Grand River Health |

In the past year the team of nearly 200 volunteers at Grand River Hospital District spent more than 12,000 hours delivering meals, assisting patients and helping in other ways, but for three hours Friday the district took time to serve them.

The annual volunteer appreciation gala hosted at the district’s Rifle campus featured a buffet-style dinner and entertainment, between presentations honoring individuals for their service.

In total, the amount of time volunteers contributed in the past year equates to $303,610 or six full-time employees, Kaaren Peck, director of volunteer services, told the crowd gathered at the hospital Friday.

While thinking of the time commitment in terms of dollars is impressive, several speakers noted that the impact on people’s lives is perhaps the most admirable aspect of the volunteers’ service.

“If you want to touch the past, touch a rock … if you want to touch the future, touch a life,” said Victoria Kesler, Grand River Hospital District Volunteer Association president.

Few, if any, Grand River volunteers have touched as many lives as Rifle resident Nell Struwe, who received a lifetime achievement award. Struwe’s volunteer service predates the formation of the hospital district and the construction of its campus on the south side of Interstate 70.

Throughout her involvement Struwe has been a vocal advocate for the district, often serving as the lead recruiter for volunteer services, Peck said.

Kathie Harris, Struwe’s daughter, is one of those recruits. Through example, Struwe instilled in Harris a commitment to serve.

“Everywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve volunteered, and that’s because of my mom,” Harris said.

Struwe, who was at a loss for words Friday, said her belief in the hospital district’s mission motivates her to stay involved. Seeing young people, such as Makenna Pruett, volunteer is equally inspiring, she added.

Pruett, 16, was recognized as the young adult volunteer of the year, logging 365 hours of volunteer work in 2014.

Although her desire to work as an emergency room nurse originally inspired her to volunteer, the experience the past several years cultivated a level of commitment and determination that she previously did not possess. Pruett is currently on track to complete high school with an associate degree from Colorado Mountain College.

The district also recognized Sara Musson, who has logged 2,072 hours of service in her six years as a volunteer, as volunteer of the year.

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