Each year the joint team of Thompson School District, McKee Medical Center and the City of Loveland host a special event to honor volunteers who make a difference.
This year’s event, held Thursday evening at the Loveland Police and Courts Building, honored 39 individuals whose volunteering goes “above and beyond.”
Among those selected for this year’s awards were two Berthoud residents, Mark Parsons and Don Keck.
Mark Parsons was nominated by Danielle Sullivan, Volunteer Program and Response Coordinator for the Northern Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Parsons has been volunteering for the Red Cross for many years, traveled to work in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and has become a disaster trainer. His most recent work was with the evacuees of the Crystal Fire. Setting up an evacuation center requires training and instruction for the volunteers. “We have to teach them safe food handling, dormitory management and registration processes among other things,” he said. When describing the experience he related that, “Its a camp out for people who really don’t want to be there.”
Mark Parsons’ nomination letter
Narrative for Mark Parsons
Mark Parsons has been a mentor, leader, guide and friend to me for the last year. I’d like to nominate him for the Volunteer Excellence Award for his outstanding efforts and support to our organization. Whenever there is a job to be done, he always says “What can I do to help? How can I support you?” He’s never worried about personal gain. Time after time he constantly gives his heart, hands, and mind to making our organization a better place. He is an exemplary volunteer and deserves any award that could be given.
Mark has impacted many lives and programs over the years for our organization but I’d like to highlight a few of the ways he has impacted our organization and even my own life. First of all, he has been instrumental in our training program. He coordinates all of our volunteer instructors, ensures they have all the materials they need, sets up classrooms, helps market and recruit for classes, and teaches many of our higher level courses. Yet one of his favorite things to do is to help me with our new volunteer orientation. Why? Because he loves to infuse others with passion for our organization and tell them about what we do. He enjoys seeing others light up at the opportunities presented and seeing them eventually develop into leaders. With out his organizational and planning skills our training team would be at a total loss. He works tirelessly from home (even when he should be taking personal time) planning new ways of improving our organization. He has created amazing plans, organization goals, and response documents that we will be using for years.
Personally he has supported me in my new position as Volunteer Manager and Response Coordinator. Checking in with me often to see how he can enable me to become a better leader. Without his friendship and mentorship I know I would have become lost in the crazy and stressful world of Response Management. He acts many times as a life line, brining me back to reality and back to our mission of helping our fellow man. Currently he is also serving on our Recognition Committee. He is dedicated to knowing each volunteer and what it is that truly drives them. He ensures that our awards are sincere, specific, and selective. He constantly works behind the scenes, supporting others to become extraordinary leadership. I believe now is the time he was recognized for all the great things he has done.
Mark puts in more time than I’m sure we track. I’ve received many emails that he created into the late hours of the night, too excited about a program or an improvement we could make. He has made many long distance trips to Denver, Sterling, and all the way to Craig to support training, reengagement of volunteers, to help in parades, etc. Many times not even filing to be reimbursed for his mileage. Our records tracking back to 2009 show he has a total of 1,200 hours, an amazing investment.
Mark has shown leadership on many national and state wide disasters. His first involvement was in Katrina in 2005 to help clients affected by the hurricanes. Locally he responded to the Windsor tornado in 2008. He has gone out on multiple cases throughout the years to work with clients involved in house fires. Ensuring they have a warm place to stay, food, and clothes. As a Shelter manager, he ran one of our shelters for the Loveland wildfire in September of 2010. Again his leadership was pivotal to ensuring our services to the community during a time of need.
Everyone at the Red Cross knows and loves Mark. His enthusiasm and compassion abounds and everyone around him can’t help but be excited for the work ahead. His heart is to serve and bring happiness wherever he goes. When I think of our mission, Mark exemplifies who we are. Our mission states that we are “a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and guided by it’s congressional charter and the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross/ Red Crescent movement, to provide relief to victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.” Mark is a volunteer leader. He has created preparedness programs, provided relief to those who have lost everything, and lives out the mission for all to see. He is an inspiration to everyone around him and in my mind and many others an Excellent volunteer.
Volunteer Program and Response Coordinator
Northern Colorado Chapter
American Red Cross
The other Berthoud honoree was Donald Keck who has done a great deal for Berthoud Schools. In addition to being on the board of the Berthoud Schools Fund, Keck does a great deal of volunteer work at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School. His nomination was submitted by Ivy Stockwell principal, Rhonda Richer.
Don said he has been helping out with technology issues at the school, not something he had a background in. Apparently, he is doing a very good job and his work is much appreciated. He also teaches Junior Achievement, trains parents and more.
Here is what Ms. Richer had to say:
It is my pleasure to nominate Don Keck for the Loveland Honors Award. Mr. Keck has been an extremely valuable volunteer at Ivy Stockwell Elementary for the past four years. He has played a significant role in the life of our school community and fulfills many roles for us.
I first met Don when he began to volunteer in his daughter’s kindergarten classroom 4 years ago. He became a dependable contributor who was willing to take on any challenge or task including assistance with reading, math, center time, and teaching soccer skills during P.E. As Don continued to work with us, he became aware of the technological capabilities of interactive white board use in the classrooms. Since that time, he has become a tireless advocate for technology in the classroom, a member of the Berthoud Schools Fund Board, and a member of the planning committee for the Berthoud Bash. For the past 2 years, he trained a cadre of other parents at Ivy Stockwell on use of the Promethean boards so that assistance and resources for teachers would always be readily available.
Mr. Keck is a fantastic organizer and has excellent commitment and perseverance. There is no job that is too large, and no challenge that is insurmountable. He is enthusiastic and shares our school’s vision that the learning of each student is critically important. He demonstrates that belief in everything he does!
Don has fulfilled the following roles during his time with us: classroom volunteer, volunteer for Read Naturally (a reading fluency program), facilitator for Lunch Bunch (a social skills group), a volunteer for Jr. Achievement in all of the Berthoud schools, trainer for use of the Promethean boards, and a member of the Berthoud Schools Fund Board. His work on this board not only benefits our school, but all of the schools in Berthoud K-12.
Mr. Keck exemplifies what I believe is important for all of our volunteers. He understands that his service positively impacts not only his own children, but also the children of others. By making our school community a better place, he makes a difference for our entire community and our future.
Don’s volunteer service at Ivy Stockwell Elementary has made an incredible impact on all of us. Please consider him as an outstanding candidate for the Loveland Honors Award.
Rhonda J. Richer