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Volunteer Appreciation Week

It’s volunteer appreciation week: Here’s how Snow Mountain Ranch celebrates its volunteers

Holly Collingwood  |  Sky-Hi News

Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 15-21 and Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA of the Rockies has many reasons to celebrate. Each volunteer at Snow Mountain Ranch fulfills a role with their skills and talents that might not be filled without their commitment.

In 2017, 813 different volunteers shared their time, talent and treasures with guests and staff at YMCA of the Rockies properties. This added up to more than 82,000 hours.

Volunteers spend time in every department at the YMCA. Chris Kunkle, a Human Resources volunteer, did a fabulous job setting up cultural and educational experiences for the International Trainees and staff members.

They led a flag ceremony at a Colorado Rapids games and interpreted a session of the Colorado Assembly. He also helped the trainees develop a local history program, lead hikes, and taught staff many computer ‘short cuts.’

Duke Duncan volunteered in the trails department on a break from his profession of developing off-road wheel chairs for all terrain areas. Linda Lou Williams volunteered at the museum where she dressed up guests and staff alike in period costumes and transported people back in time to life on the homestead.  Together, they are donating 2 all-terrain wheelchairs (adult & child) in order to help mobility-challenged guests gain greater access to trails and sites.

Dr. Bill Weber is a professor who comes to the Y for two weeks over Christmas break every year to pick up trash around the grounds. He’s very devoted and has returned for 26 years in a row.

Bert Stephenson, a returning volunteer, came into human resources to check-in and started repairing the Administration Building’s heating system before he could even sign his paperwork! Neil Willems, the YMCA’s Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds said, “It’s wonderful to have returning volunteers who can just check out their tool box and then step-in as if never missing a beat.”

Stephensons first came to YMCA of the Rockies through a free day advertised at their local Colorado Springs YMCA.  Since then, they’ve come every year for a family trip and also participated in Heritage Camps.   His wife, Joyce, also a volunteer, stated, “Snow Mountain Ranch is our paradise! Much loved by our family.”

Polly Gallagher is Snow Mountain Ranch’s International Staff and Volunteer Coordinator, she said, “The senior volunteers provide a level of maturity and experience for our younger staff. They become role models. Many become stand-in-grandparents for staff members who might be homesick.”

In the summer, Snow Mountain Ranch offers a campground where volunteers can live in their own campers. On-grounds housing and meals are also provided for volunteers working between 24-28 hours, depending on the season.

Snow Mountain Ranch’s employees regularly participate in off-property volunteer opportunities. Amongst their recent favorites were a trip to the Denver Botanical Garden where they served as tour guides, a dog walking opportunity at the animal shelter, and a rowdy day at the Demolition Derby where they picked up bumpers and other auto parts that had fallen off vehicles after collisions.

Without the help of volunteers, the programs and facilities at Snow Mountain Ranch would never be the same. Every summer and winter, a Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony recognizes the work that they do for the guests and staff. Gallagher said, “The YMCA is an organization whose roots began in volunteerism. At Snow Mountain Ranch, it gives people the opportunity to celebrate Grand County’s beauty and share it with visiting families.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Polly Gallagher at 970-887-2152 x4111 or visit www.SnowMountainRanch.org.

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