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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Vote for the 2024 Mesa County Volunteer of the Year!


What age group comprises the majority of our community’s volunteers? Seniors! That’s why BEACON provides Mesa County organizations with the chance to recognize their exceptional senior volunteers at BeaconFest on Thursday, April 18. The ceremony will start at 1 p.m. While all nominated volunteers will be honored on stage, only one will be named Volunteer of the Year. 

Mesa County Nominees

Barbara Ball

Nominated by HopeWest

Barbara’s smile is a constant presence. Her heart speaks volumes in conversation, quickly revealing her unique ability to brighten any day. Her unwavering dedication to giving back and serving others is evident whether she’s welcoming visitors at the Ferris Care Center or sewing a variety of items for HopeWest patients. Love is her motivation, and it’s especially obvious in her creation of Military Quilts, where every stitch speaks peace, comfort and love over the person her quilt lovingly covers. We are so grateful to know her and work with her every single week! Barbara has volunteered with several local organizations but has found a special place at HopeWest. There, she not only gives love but also receives it, finding healing in volunteering. Since becoming a volunteer at the end of 2022, Barbara has logged over 400 hours supporting the Ferris Care Center, as well as hospice and palliative care patients.

Joy Bush

Nominated by Mesa County RSVP

Joy has been a volunteer for Mesa County RSVP since 2004 and has accumulated 14,276.75 volunteer hours. In the last two years alone, she donated 2175.25 hours. She has given her time to many agencies including Mesa County Library, HopeWest & Hospice, Homeward Bound, Grand Junction Symphony, Visit Grand Junction and The Colorado Welcome Center. Joy is a very giving person and likes to stay busy. 

Mike Calabro

Nominated by Museums of Western Colorado

For countless years, Mike Calabro has offered his time and energy to the Museums of Western Colorado’s volunteer docent program. His thoughtful demeanor and knowledge of paleontology helps bring our museum exhibits to life, creating a sense of awe and wonder in visiting students. Whether it be through focusing on the incredible size of a Brachiosaurus femur or by asking open-ended questions on the diet of an Allosaurus, Mike gives children the opportunity to share their own passion for dinosaurs while teaching them new facts and concepts. We are so grateful to Mike for sharing his time with the museums and our local community!

Carole Chowen

Nominated by Grand Valley Pets Alive

Carole Chowen, president and spay/neuter coordinator for Grand Valley Pets Alive (GVPA), has been a dedicated volunteer since 2013. She has worked tirelessly to fulfill the all-volunteer nonprofit’s mission to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs in Mesa County. Carole receives dozens of daily requests for help with spay/neuter of cats and dogs, and TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) of feral cats. She created a voucher program that tracks and covers the cost of surgeries for animals at a discounted veterinarian clinic. Carole assists with transporting cats and fosters them when needed. She coordinates with groups outside of Grand Junction to transfer cats so they can be adopted. In 2023, GVPA provided over 665 animals with surgeries, largely thanks to Carole’s efforts. GVPA is fortunate to have her leadership, and our community is fortunate to have her dedicated work for the benefit of animals and those who care for them. 

Cheyanne Gentry

Nominated by Food Bank of the Rockies

Cheyanne has volunteered with Food Bank of the Rockies for 9 years and is the site-coordinator for our Grand Junction High School (GJHS) Mobile Pantry. Cheyanne works with roughly 15 students from GJHS to serve our neighbors twice a month. Currently, the group is serving close to 200 households each month in the Grand Valley. Cheyanne has been instrumental in helping us provide nutritious and familiar food to those facing hunger in our community.

Noleta Golden

Nominated by Community Hospital

In 2005, Noleta Golden began volunteering with Community Hospital when it was located on North 12th Street. Noleta travels an hour each way to give her time two afternoons a week, greeting visitors, patients and patients’ families, and escorting them to their appointments. Additionally, she works on special projects and is always willing to help. Noleta has touched many lives and inspired many people. Her positive influence extends to the wider community, inspiring others to join in our mission. Her contributions have made a lasting impact, and her 10,800 volunteer hours are not just a numerical achievement but also a testament to her unwavering passion for making a positive difference in our community. Noleta has a huge heart and desire to give. Her outstanding dedication and positive impact have made her an invaluable member of our team.

Ruth Miller

Nominated by Cappella of Grand Junction

Ruth resides at Cappella of Grand Junction Assisted Living and serves as our Resident Ambassador, welcoming newcomers and providing guidance to new residents. She also volunteers in our memory care community, helping with newspaper delivery, visiting others and lending a compassionate ear. Ruth is always joyful, often helping with assembling marketing materials and other concierge tasks. Ruth is a bright light in our community and demonstrates a continued thriving and vibrant life in retirement.

 Charlie & Geri Mishmash

Nominated by Meals on Wheels

Charlie and Geri have volunteered for Meals on Wheels since September 2017, delivering over 3,900 meals to seniors in Mesa County. They drive a weekly route and serve as substitute drivers, stepping in last-minute to help when needed. They also assist in training new volunteers and showing community members how the program operates. Additionally, they spend one morning each week in the office, answering phones, preparing donation statements and getting BEACONs ready for delivery drivers to take with them. Charlie and Geri go above and beyond their regular duties by shopping for customers, visiting them in rehab or hospitals and making extra visits to connect with them. They have given so much to our program, and jump in to help with whatever we ask.

Cindy Neal

Nominated by Hilltop Community Resources 

Cindy Neal has been a dedicated volunteer at the Commons for 2.5 years, joining during the height of the pandemic. She donates approximately 10 hours per week, leading Bingo (a bigger task than most realize) and assisting with book club. Cindy goes above and beyond, setting up for activities, helping residents get comfortable, participating in discussions and volunteering extra hours when we’re short-staffed so activities aren’t cancelled for residents. She values the residents’ wisdom and enjoys their company. Cindy’s impact is evident in her commitment and love for those she serves. Colleagues praise her kindness, dependability and willingness to help, noting her positive impact on residents and staff alike. Cindy exemplifies courage, supporting the organization with her medical expertise during the pandemic, and taking on additional roles, including advocating for a resident’s healthcare needs. Her efforts extend to promoting volunteerism. Cindy Neal is a deserving candidate for Mesa County’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

 Bruce & Monica Peers

Nominated by Visit Grand Junction

Bruce and Monica have volunteered over 3,436 hours at the Grand Junction Visitor Center, welcoming visitors and new residents with advice on what to do in the area, dining information, Realtors and more. They are always eager and excited to help anyone who walks into the Visitor Center. They also volunteer at the Visitor Center booth during the summer at the Market on Main, handing out popsicles and candy to kids. They make new friends with every person they meet and have an energizing can-do attitude that rubs off on everyone they encounter. 

Mike Perry

Nominated by EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum

Mike Perry has been involved in many community organizations, but his involvement with EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum is invaluable. Mike has mentored our travel program for retirees, donating his time to lead Exploration trips and connecting us with other key players in the community. Mike has been instrumental in helping us create a dinosaur bone exhibit and has lectured about scorpions. In 2023, he completed a 2,000+ mile bike journey across the U.S., raising over $88,000 for youth scholarships! This highlights Mike’s passion for supporting youth. He is generous, encouraging, full of ideas and one of the museum’s biggest advocates. 

Bill Prescott & Avery

Nominated by Family Health West

Bill and Avery visit Family Health West (FHW) Hospital every other week and on holidays to bring comfort to patients. They also make additional visits, as Bill’s schedule allows, whenever a patient needs some extra puppy love. Together, they participate in parades with the FHW bus and staff. Bill occasionally brings Avery around to the FHW staff for some petting and affection. Avery is so sweet and kind, putting a smile on everyone’s face.

 Loretta Roberts

Nominated by Aspen Ridge Alzheimer’s Special Care Center

Loretta is a beacon of light for our residents, brightening each Tuesday with her musical talents. Regardless of their mood, Loretta can effortlessly get the entire crowd singing and laughing. A former program director, she engages our residents with personalized greetings, hugs and a beautiful smile. Loretta talks about the many exciting activities she’s involved in, including helping immigrant families to learn English and get acquainted with living in the U.S., leading a women’s Bible study, tending a beautiful flower garden (and gifting us flowers), and supporting young musicians by playing the piano for them. Her performances feature songs we all sing along to, poems, trivia, uplifting hymns and a loving wish of good health and prosperity. Every week we look forward to her visit!

Tim Stafford

Nominated by Roice-Hurst Humane Society

Since beginning his volunteer work at Roice-Hurst Humane Society in the summer of 2023, Tim Stafford has devoted nearly 300 hours to improving the lives of shelter pets. On a typical day, Tim can be found taking a shelter dog on an enriching hike, cleaning kennels, assisting pets as they wake up from spay/neuter surgeries, or caring for a foster cat at home. Tim is a reliable, flexible and compassionate team member. His remarkable ability to create meaningful connections with each pet (and person) at the shelter makes every day brighter. We are deeply grateful for Tim’s contributions to furthering our mission of promoting bonds between pets and their people!