Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Vote for our 2023 Volunteer of the Year

What age group makes up the majority of our community’s volunteers? Seniors! 

That’s why the BEACON gives Mesa County organizations the opportunity to recognize their outstanding senior volunteers on Thursday, April 20 at Grand Junction BeaconFest. All nominated volunteers will be honored at the stage, but only one can be named Volunteer of the Year

Online voting is closed! But you can still read up on this year's Volunteer of the Year nominees below.

All volunteers will be recognized at Grand Junction BeaconFest on Thursday, April 20 at

Grand Junction Convention Center. Ceremony starts at 1 p.m. 

 John Ahern

 Nominated by Mesa County RSVP/SHIP

In all of John’s volunteer capacities, he has put in 7,325 hours since starting with RSVP 9 1/2 years ago. He has advised hundreds of people on Medicare, putting on seminars and answering questions about this incredibly confusing government program. His smile and infectious attitude wins people over instantly! 

 Weldon Allen

Nominated by Grand Valley
Resettlement Program

In January 2022, Weldon accepted the responsibility of developing a team, creating tasks and a workflow, and finding sponsors for Afghan families who arrived in the Grand Valley. This included everything from furnishing refugees with homes to education, including English lessons, job training and support, fundraising and physical and mental health support. Since then, Weldon has coordinated teams of over 350 volunteers through 12 church sponsors, as well as supporting the nine Afghan families currently in the Grand Valley. No matter how much chaos or how situations change, Weldon is willing to sit down to help train individuals, meet with sponsors and move and furnish homes for the refugees. He is a calm and thoughtful presence in the organization.

 Ruthmary Allison

Nominated by Mesa County Spellbinders

Ruthmary is always selflessly helping someone! She tells stories in many elementary school classrooms across the valley and has done so regularly for over 18 years. Teachers love her! A member of Mesa County Spellbinders’ board of directors, we depend on her strength, commitment and creativity to continue to exist and operate. A nationally certified master trainer, she leads our monthly workshops and trains members in Spellbinders organizations across Colorado. Ruthmary also trains our chapter’s new recruits so they can go into the classrooms and tell stories in the oral tradition. Additionally, she’s a long-time HopeWest volunteer who helps patients in hospice care and their families. Whether it is sitting with a patient in their home while the family caregiver takes a break, singing to a patient at their bedside, or making cookies in the kitchen, Ruthmary is there to help in any way. She also sponsors immigrants from Afghanistan. 

 Bronwyn Beckstead

Nominated by Meals on Wheels

Bronwyn started volunteering just over a year ago for Meals on Wheels and has made a great impact in a short amount of time. She has delivered over 600 meals to clients and has befriended a number of them. Most Fridays, she spends several hours going beyond the call of duty for a Mesa County resident. Before starting her weekly route, Meals on Wheels staff pack an extra lunch in Bronwyn’s bag because she spends time with a wheelchair-bound senior and assists her in the home, sorting through mail, organizing stacks of paperwork and socializing. Bronwyn always shows up with a positive attitude and a kind spirit. She is one of those individuals who quietly serves in a great capacity.  

 Joy Bush

Nominated by Visit Grand Junction

Joy has logged 2,115 lifetime hours at the Grand Junction Visitor Center. She greets guests looking for things to do in the area and assists new residents seeking advice on places to dine, things to do, Realtor information and places to meet other locals. Joy is well respected by all of the volunteer ambassadors at the Grand Junction Visitor Center. She shares articles with volunteers who have similar interests along with books she’s read, her favorite trails and bike routes and more. Joy is always trying to expand her horizons. If there is a topic she isn’t familiar with, she will research and learn about it. She is always optimistic with a positive attitude.

Leonard Cruz

Nominated by Roice-Hurst Humane Society

Since 2017, Leonard has dedicated more than 2,430 volunteer hours to the dogs at Roice-Hurst Humane Society. He has a special knack for working with the most timid, shy dogs that enter the shelter, often taking them on as his own personal projects until they are adopted. Leonard has fostered more than 60 dogs in his home and has touched the lives of countless more at the shelter. Most days, you can find Leonard sitting on the floor of a dog kennel, gently hand-feeding hot dogs to a wary pup, teaching them that humans aren’t so scary. His generous work has set dozens of dogs up for successful lives with loving families. 

 Judy Fenton

Nominated by Supporting Our Seniors (SOS), Hilltop & Aging and Disability
Resources of Colorado (ADRC)

As a volunteer with SOS, Judy has provided rides to homebound seniors for over six years. In addition to being an amazing volunteer, Judy is also an incredible human being. She is a vibrant ray of sunshine. Her happiness and sense of humor rub off on others really easily. She is full of life and will always put a smile on your face. Even though Judy prefers to give seniors rides to medical appointments, she is pretty flexible and always willing to work with us. One day, we had a last-minute ride from a grocery store that no other volunteer was available to do. When we explained the situation to Judy, she enthusiastically took it on. Her flexibility and commitment to the SOS program are among the many reasons we would like to nominate her for Volunteer of the Year. 

 Cheryl Gummere

Nominated by EUREKA! McConnell
Science Museum

Cheryl “Jolly” Gummere has volunteered at EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum since 2018 and has donated over 400 hours of her time. She has filled a variety of roles during her time at the museum, and is always willing to do whatever needs done. She is a leader, welcoming and training new volunteers. Jolly is thoughtful, persistent and a joy to be around.

 Nanette Lytle

Nominated by Grand Valley Pets Alive

When Nanette and her family moved into their new Fruita home, they quickly noticed the overwhelming feral cat and abandoned pet cat problem in the area. Their trailer park was overrun by cats who were often sick or injured, or abandoned by their owners who moved away. Many of them were starving and produced litter after litter of kittens every year who often died or were killed on the surrounding streets. Nanette, along with her teenage daughter Violet and mother-in-law Ann, started trapping and spaying/neutering the cats, hoping to rescue the kittens and younger cats, tame them and place them in loving forever homes. They spend countless hours feeding and spending time with the colony—all in an attempt to make trapping efforts more successful. They became involved with Grand Valley Pets Alive’s Spay/Neuter Return Program, utilizing vouchers to cover the cost of procedures and then continue to feed and care for the cats, mostly at their own expense. When GVPA had the opportunity to apply for a grant from the City of Fruita, Nanette went door to door securing signatures on a letter of support. Because of Nanette’s efforts, her mighty team has been able to take care of 59 of the approximate 60 colony cats. Currently, the team is dealing with the displacement of the colony while being displaced themselves. Even though they no longer living there, they continue to feed, trap and take care of them.  

 Shirley Schultz

Nominated by HopeWest

Shirley is a volunteer at Heirlooms for Hospice and has been volunteering with HopeWest for over 25 years. Last year, she turned 100 years old. Her motto is, “If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing.” She volunteers at Heirlooms on Monday mornings and always tells us she is happy to do whatever “grunt work” we have for her. She is a valuable asset to the HopeWest team. Everyone she comes into contact with is lucky to know her. When we shared that we would like to nominate her for the Volunteer of the Year award, she said, “I get far more out of volunteering then you get out of me, and I enjoy every minute of it”.

 Dana Seelye

Nominated by VA Western Colorado Health Care System

Dana has given hundreds of hours to beautify the landscaping at the VA Hospital. An Army veteran and master gardener, Dana has done a great job of recruiting others to help him. Many times, he helps his helpers succeed in other areas of their lives. His passion for volunteering, improving our grounds and showing kindness to others continues to inspire. 

 Steve Olney

Nominated by Community Hospital &
Community Food Bank

When you arrive at Community Hospital, Steve’s is one of the friendly smiles that greets you. He gives his time two mornings a week greeting visitors, patients and their families and escorting them to their appointments. His humor and friendliness put people at ease, and his kindness and compassion shows through in every interaction. Steve also visits with patients, collects mail throughout the hospital, works on a variety of special projects and is always willing to take on a new responsibility. During his six-year tenure at the hospital, Steve has volunteered over 2,600 hours. He knows many patients by name, and the staff looks forward to talking with him and are grateful for his willingness to give his time and talents to the hospital. Steve connects with other volunteers, supports their work and is a friend many of us have come to rely on. Steve is also an integral part of the Community Food Bank family. He goes to Main Street Bagels every Monday morning to pick up bagels for us to serve. Then he spends every Monday afternoon as our greeter, explaining our shopping model to new clients, updating returning clients of any changes and answering questions. He truly cares for our clients and is eager to hear about their day. Not only is Steve dedicated and compassionate towards clients, but he also makes sure to build community with other volunteers he serves with. Steve is an amazing volunteer who shows up for each shift with a smile on his face and a get-it-done attitude, making him the perfect candidate for Volunteer of the Year!

Congratulations to all the nominees and thank you for your volunteer service!

Voting is now closed