Rewarding those who CARE |

Rewarding those who CARE

by Veronica Whitney

Gilda Kaplan started volunteering with the Vail Police Department two years ago when she was called to help with a benefit for the daughter of Vail policeman Ryan Cunningham, killed at the scene of a traffic accident on I-70.

“It was an incredible success,” said Kaplan, 73, of Vail, who was among the 19 Eagle County residents who this week received the Colorado Cares Volunteer Service Awards from Eagle County. “Months earlier, our son in law was killed in a ski accident in Canada, leaving a 10-month-old baby. You live through it and you become compassionate.”

While Kaplan logged 2,000 volunteer hours with the Vail police, nine girls from Gypsum and Eagle with the Girl Scout Eagle Patrol created and sold patches to raise $1,000 to support nearly 200 Afghani families for three months.

Peggy Randall Buckau, 71, of Eagle, helped the community by volunteering at the Golden Eagle Senior Center, where she prepares the tables and reads to those who can’t see. Former County Commissioner Johnnette Phillips helped and travelled with county seniors.

Kaplan, the Girl Scout Eagle Patrol, Randall Buckau and Phillips were among the community volunteers – ages 12 to 75 – recognized Tuesday by the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“You represent the county, as well as somebody many times your age,” County Commissioner Michael Gallagher told the Girl Scouts during the awards ceremony at the Eagle County Commissioners’ Chambers. “It is in giving of ourselves that we receive our biggest blessings.”

Colorado Cares Day was first celebrated in 1999 as a special day designed for residents to re-establish a greater sense of community. In 2001, Gov. Bill Owens added the Colorado Cares Volunteer Service Awards to honor those who give back to their communities year-round.

The winners, nominated by people and organizations, received certificates from the county commissioners and Owens.

“Helping the people in Afghanistan is important because some kids there don’t have the same opportunities that we do,” Girl Scout Krista Boni, 13, said.

The Girl Scouts said they’re committed to continue the patch program. Each patch they designed – which says “Children to Children, United we stand” – sells for $3.50.

“The Silver Award is our next goal,” said 13-year-old Emily Lich. The group already has won the Girls Scouts’ Bronze Award for previous volunteer work, said Mary Rogers, an Eagle Patrol leader.

“There’s no way we could pay them for the quality of work they do,” said

County Commissioner Tom Stone of the award recipients. “Without them, we couldn’t afford to provide so many services. Nor we could get the same quality of service. That only comes from volunteers.”

Three of Tuesday’s recipients – Bob and June Vanourek, recognized for their work as adoptive parents, and Paul Steinfort, recognized for his work in coordinating the 9 News health Fair in Eagle County – are among 11 state level winners. The three will attend a reception at the governor’s mansion this month.

“I wanted to spend some time and energy volunteering for something that benefits everyone in the community,” said Amy Phillips, 43, of Avon, who was recognized in the “Good Samaritan” category. Phillips has volunteered 500 hours this year at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. “I’m an avid, but poor gardener. Through volunteering, I’m also learning.”

Gilda Kaplan said another reason she volunteers is to use her skills. Before retiring, Kaplan was in marketing and sales promotion.

“I volunteered, too. I lived with her 50 years!” Werner Kaplan said jokingly, holding his wife’s award. The couple then headed to the dinner party for the winners.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

The winners

Health – Paul Steinfort – for his efforts at the 9 News health Fair.

Children/Youth – Bob and June Vanourek – for adoptive family leadership.

Seniors – Johnette Phillips – for her efforts on behalf of seniors programs and trips.

Rising stars – The Girl Scout Eagle Patrol – for Afghani family relief after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Good Samaritan – Amy Phillips – for her work at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Education – Paula Palmateer – for diligence in AIDS education.

Exceptional Events – Rick Scalpello – For his help founding Vail Today, the Vail Farmer’s Market and an Italian festival in Vail.

Environment – Jan Connors – for duties at the Sylvan Lake State Park Visitor’s Center.

Centennial – Peggy Randall Buckau – for her service as a multi-tasked volunteer.

Other – Gilda Kaplan – for leadership in the Vail Police Department’s VIPS program.

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