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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

And the 2021 Volunteers of the Year are...

Oct 25, 2021 02:54PM ● By Jan Weeks
Rich Parrish and Dawn Ullrey both won Volunteer of the Year for 2021

The holidays are approaching, which means the crazy giving kicks in, sending many people into debt for gifts that produce smiles and excitement that only last a few weeks. 

However, there’s another way to gift—one that can wield influence far beyond a few weeks. That’s the gift of time and talent that volunteers offer freely and regularly.

The BEACON recognized 15 volunteers in our August issue and at this year’s BeaconFest Boomer & Senior Fairs in Grand Junction and Montrose. These volunteers were honored for their selfless dedication to bettering their communities. At each event, one community volunteer was awarded Volunteer of the Year, as voted by readers. Here they are, ladies and gentlemen, your 2021 Volunteers of the Year: 

Mesa County Volunteer of the Year: Richard Parrish

The 2021 Mesa County Volunteer of the Year nominees (left to right): Jeanne Corbett, Marilynn Stroo, Rich Parrish, Jim Scheidt, Patsy Miracle and Roxanne Oglesby. (Not pictured: Clark Cohu and Wayne Klahn)


In Mesa County, readers selected Rich Parrish as the 2021 Volunteer of the Year. 

Parrish, 73, is no volunteer newbie, nor is he a stranger to BeaconFest. He has a long history of service in his community. He’s also the first person to ever receive Volunteer of the Year more than once. 

In 2015, he was recognized at BeaconFest because of his work with Community Food Bank. This year, Parrish was honored for his volunteer work with CASA of Mesa County.

In their nomination, CASA Executive Director Joy Thompson and Administrative Assistant Tia Peters lauded Parrish for his dedication to his community in addition to the children he advocates for with CASA. 

“Rich strives to make sure children have a voice in their future and the support and healing necessary to become successful citizens in Mesa County,” they wrote. “During the toughest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find Rich checking on neighbors, setting needed supplies outside the doors of those who were confined, and providing a kind voice to those who needed to hear one. Rich never asks for anything in return for his deeds. He is compassionate and dedicated, generous and humble.”

As a volunteer coordinator for CASA, Parrish arranges training for volunteers, which includes 30 hours of initial training, then 12 hours yearly. Sometimes Parrish takes over cases when other volunteers are unable to fulfill their duties. 

“I believe there are opportunities for everyone to volunteer despite what’s happening in their own lives,” said Parrish. “There’s no better compensation than helping someone else.”

Montrose-Delta Volunteer of the Year: Dawn Ullrey

The Montrose and Delta Counties 2021 Volunteer of the Year nominees (left to right): Jim Wendt, Liane Muller, Dawn Ullrey, Mary Jo St. Jean, Pat & Bob Brown. (Not pictured: John Hutchinson.)


Montrose-Delta’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year is Dawn Ullrey, 74, of Paonia. She was recognized for her active volunteer work with Hilltop. She’s on call all weekend—48 straight hours—to answer calls for the Tri-County Domestic Violence Services in Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties. 

Ullrey’s volunteerism has spanned decades, including a stint working with youth groups at her church and at a soup kitchen on Sundays before COVID. 

Ullrey has volunteered with Hilltop for 16 years. She volunteers between 192 and 240 hours every month. 

“Domestic violence is a power and control thing. And the victim is not always a woman. Men can be abused, too,” she said. 

She explained that Hilltop can help people get jobs, find housing, or in an emergency, get them a safe house. 

There are many moments that stand out in Ullrey’s years as a volunteer that make the emotional tolls of the job worth it. 

“There was a young woman from a broken home in the church youth group who called me years after I helped her,” she said. “She wanted to tell me what a difference I, and my family, had made to her.” 

Ullrey’s nominator, Teresha Taylor, showcased the many ways Ullrey helps the organization and her community.

“Dawn is one of our most diligent and valued volunteers for Hilltop! She loves giving back to her community. She has also worked as a firefighter!” wrote Taylor. “She is so willing to attend additional trainings to make sure she is up to date on the most recent resources.”

Ullrey also encourages her grandkids to volunteer, which they do a lot. 

Volunteers wanted

Volunteers truly do make the world go ’round. If you can make your little corner of society better, why not consider joining them?

To volunteer with CASA of Mesa County, call 970-242-4191 or go
to In Montrose, call 970-249-0337 or visit

To volunteer with Hilltop, go to or call 970-242-4400
in Grand Junction or 970-252-4475 in Montrose. 

See volunteer opportunities every month in Mesa County Beacon Bits on pages 48-49 and Montrose & Delta Beacon Bits on pages 56-57.

A BIG BEACON thank you!

About 1,000 people walked through the doors of the Montrose Pavilion on October 14, excited to immerse themselves in a day full of entertainment, resources and prize giveaways at this year’s BeaconFest Boomer & Senior Fair. 

They were greeted by the gentle cascading melodies from Robin Freed and the ladies who make up the Harps in Motion Ensemble. Yaz Ishikawa delivered jazzy tunes from his tenor sax, and Donny Morales captivated crowds with his soulful vocals. The Black Canyon Twirlers & Delta Hubwheelers also joined forces and put on a square dance show!

Joe Barrows with the Medicare Resource Center and Ashley VanGundy with 970 Medicare answered visitors’ questions about Medicare benefits and open enrollment in each of their informative seminars. Natasha Saavedra also gave an educational presentation on how Compass Medical Center can help treat neuropathy and joint disease naturally.

One lucky reader won an all-inclusive romantic getaway to Grand Junction, including transportation, a hotel stay, and lunch and dinner gift certificates, topped off with a luxury bottle of champagne. We want to thank all of the businesses who donated and made these drawings so exciting. 

To our sponsors, entertainers and most importantly, you, our guests, thank you for coming. 

BeaconFest is our way of saying thank you for reading the BEACON. 

This year’s BeaconFest wouldn’t have been the same without the friendly support of the 60+ vendors who set up booths, and notably, our main sponsors: Volunteers of America, Medicare Resource Center and Humana. Thank you for supporting local seniors!

2021 Senior Choice Award Winners:

Best Overall Booth
All Points Transit

Booth with the Friendliest People 

Crossroads Senior Living

Booth with the Best Giveaways

Volunteers of America

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