Teller County Volunteer Awards – Beth Dodd

Mary Bielz was honored with the Centennial Award for significant and lifelong contributions through service and volunteerism at the 2015 Teller County Cares Volunteer Awards Ceremony. Eleven other individuals or groups were also recognized for their contributions at the event at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center on February 9.

Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen kicked off the meeting with a few thoughts on the nature of volunteer service, saying that volunteerism is a powerful, uniquely American phenomenon where everyone has a story about why they volunteer, and the benefits may not become obvious for years.

“When you don’t put a price tag on something, it makes it priceless,” Steen declared.

A dozen groups or individuals, and even a special dog, were recognized for their contributions at this year’s event. They all helped make Teller County a better place to live in 2015 and beyond. Each recipient received a hand thrown and painted ceramic pitcher made by local artist Frank Grey.

The Veteran’s of Foreign Wars Post #11411 and Auxiliary was acknowledged with a Civic Service Award. The group contributed 6,366 hours of community service last year. Their many projects included supporting the Woodland Park Senior Center, the Boy Scouts, 4-H, the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, and others. They also conduct Honor Guard Ceremonies on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day at three local cemeteries and perform other patriotic public services.

The Home Café at Bronco Billy’s in Cripple Creek was given the Business Award. Ben Douglas accepted on their behalf. The popular casino eatery is a community hub and was recognized for its twenty-five years of commitment and service to the area.

Lisa Groves was the honoree in the Children/Youth category. Groves works at the Claim Jumper in Victor, a small grocery store where children gather to catch the school bus every morning. Groves serves hot chocolate and generously shares her time and attention with the kids while they wait to start their day. Groves also volunteers with the Victor Fire Auxiliary and participates in local youth events like the Haunted Trail and the Victor’s children’s Christmas party.

Leroy Bunker and his dog Ginger received the Seniors Award. Bunker and Ginger regularly visit and spread cheer at the DayBreak Adult Day Program, the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, and homeless shelters throughout the area.

The Award for Health went to Susan Grina, chair of the Pikes Peak Medical Center Foundation, which supports our local hospital through fundraising and volunteerism. Grina coordinates volunteers, participates in fundraising, and is a driving force in the hospital’s gift shop and art gallery. She helped raise the money to install flat screen high definition TV monitors in all of the patient rooms and to landscape the medical campus.

Tanner Coy, owner of Tweed’s Fine Furnishings in Woodland Park, was chosen to receive the Community Pride Award. Coy has supported multiple community projects including the Holiday Home Tour, the Moose is Loose winter business marketing campaign, the Keep Woodland Park Beautiful Campaign, Oktoberfest, Vino & Notes, and Cruise Above the Clouds. He serves on Woodland Park’s Downtown Development Authority Board and on the Chamber of Commerce.

Jean Blaisdell won the Environment Award for her efforts in forest fuels reduction and fire mitigation in her neighborhood in Ridgewood, for her volunteer work with the Teller County Slash/Mulch Disposal Site in Divide, and for her work with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. She served on the first committee to create the Teller County Community Wildfire Protection Plan and has been very active in improving forest health in Teller County.

The next recipient was Dave Wasson, who was recognized with the Good Samaritan Award for his volunteer contributions to the Aspen Mine Center in Cripple Creek. He has helped with the distribution of commodities to the needy, acted as a substitute receptionist, and provided assistance to a local disabled veteran in need.

The Arts and Culture Award was presented to the Gold Camp Victorian Society in Cripple Creek. Easily recognized in their period clothes, they sponsor several annual historical events like the Victorian Ball, the Victorian Tea, and the Mount Pisgah Speaks Cemetery Tour. In addition, they march in parades, visit local schools, and provide historic ambiance at the District Museum, the Old Homestead, and the Butte Theater.

Patty Waddle, the Early Childhood Education Director for the CC&V School District, was honored with a Special Service Award for her tireless support of local youth. Known for going above and beyond, Waddle brought the Head Start Program to the community, has been a key participant in Teller County’s Build-A-Generation program, and helped to get the 2015 Early Head Start Childcare Grant which is now providing much-needed support to area families.

The Les Mellot, Jr. Award for volunteerism through government service was given to Teller County Planning Commissioner, Wendy Dillenschneider. A member of the planning commission for over twenty years, she helped develop the 4-Mile Regional Plan and the Teller County Growth Management Master Plan. She advocates for “dark skies” and has placed her own 150 acres near Florissant into a conservation easement with the Palmer Land Trust to conserve them as open space.

Finally, the award ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Centennial Award to Mary Bielz of Victor. Bielz helped start the non-profit Community of Caring in 1999, which lead to the creation of the Aspen Mine Center. The center provides struggling residents with resources, assistance, education, enrichment programs, and tools for self-sufficiency. Since 1999, Bielz has given more than 30,000 hours of volunteer service. Bielz was honored and humbled by the acknowledgement of her service. “Rejoice in everything. Be anxious for nothing. Lead a purpose driven life,” she said.