When the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce put out a call for nominees for volunteer, nonprofit and business of the year, it could not have anticipated the number of individuals and organizations chamber and community members found worthy of recognition. In myriad ways, the nominees enhance the quality of life in Delta -- serving youth, the homeless and the infirm; providing goods and services with a smile and hometown connection; and fueling the economic engine that supports community services and amenities.
Nominees for Volunteer of the Year included Kami Collins, Portia Vigil, Nancy Wood, Amy Crick, Amanda Casto, Jeanie Brown, Brad Kolman, John Gavan, Jamie Fisher, Kathy Svenson, Mary Jo St. Jean, Mary Pfalzgraff, Jennifer Yost and Cheryl Oeltjenbruns.
Through online voting, chamber members selected Brad Kolman as Volunteer of the Year.
Kolman is an elder at the Calvary Baptist Church, as well as a Sunday school teacher and team leader. He is a board member of the Delta County Meth Task Force in addition to serving on the board of the Free Legal Services of Delta County. At the Delta Correctional Center, Kolman is a chaplain support team member, volunteers with the Kairos men's ministry, and assists his wife Kathy with the Chapel of Hope choir. He also serves on the Access to Justice Committee, 7th Judicial District, and in his spare time serves meals, trains new volunteers and does volunteer shift work at the Abraham Connection.
Nominated for Nonprofit of the Year were Heirlooms for Hospice, Abraham Connection, Delta County Memorial Hospital Foundation, Delta County Libraries, Tri-County Health Network, Altrusa International of Delta, Delta County Economic Development, Families Plus, Delta Elks Lodge, HopeWest of Delta and Delta Street Rodders.
The winner --Abraham Connection -- continues to touch and change lives, not only those of the homeless and hungry men, women and families who stay at the shelter, but also the 300+ volunteers who give their time, finances, heart and soul to the mission.
The mission is "Offering emergency food and shelter to those in need in Delta County by offering a hand up, not a hand out." Guests are expected to do daily chores, weekly community service and participate in an ongoing, individualized case management plan, all in an effort to move them from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
The volunteers at the shelter have provided over 7,100 bed nights since opening in 2011. Volunteers also prepare all meals, provide all case management and sustain ongoing, day-to-day operations.
Kwiki Tire was recognized as Business of the Year. Rich Chezem and his staff not only provide superior service to their customers, they also contribute to the community in many ways. For Christmas 2016 they raised over $3,000 for the Toys for Tikes program. Kwiki Tire Service is a major supporter of the Junior Market Livestock Sale as well as the local FFA chapter, as well as Delta and Hotchkiss sports programs. And when several individuals in Grand Junction had their tires slashed before Christmas, Rich and his team donated tires to those victims.
Other nominees included Tayshen Automotive, First Colorado National Bank, Jerry Reiher State Farm, Delta County Independent, CB's Tavern, Delta County Memorial Hospital, Yost Family Dentistry, Delta Ace Hardware, ProSpace, The Body Shop Therapeutic Massage 'n Spa, Grand Mesa Commercial Real Estate, Bill Heddles Recreation Center and 2nd Edition.
The evening concluded with a magical performance by Ty Gallenbeck, a talented magician who amazed audience members with his card tricks. Gallenbeck is featured in "Mindblown," a weekly stage show at the Madeline hotel in Telluride's Mountain Village.