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County’s senior volunteers get feted at Villa

By Melissa Cohen
CALLICOON — May 25, 2010 — The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) held its 37th annual ceremony luncheon on May 10 at the Villa Roma. A crowd of over 275 supporters and family members gathered to honor the volunteers and the 61,777 combined hours of selfless service they put in during 2009.
Eight volunteers served over 1,000 hours: Robert Connor, Patricia Curtis, Margaret Ippolito, Marie Quetel, Rita Renz, Theresa Roach, Elisabeth Zink, and Marcelle Wagner, who took the cake with 3,642 volunteer hours.
One is never too old to volunteer. Marie Zalesky of Callicoon is 102 and volunteered 121 hours at the Grover Hermann Division of the Catskill Regional Medical Center last year. Zalesky was honored with a flower arrangement and is annually considered an inspiration to the volunteer program.
Fifteen volunteers were nominated to receive the Senior of the Year Award, all from different towns throughout the county.
Senior of the Year
Donald Downs, from the town of Fremont, was awarded Senior of the Year. Downs, a volunteer of over a year, and a retired architect from Springfield, PA, spent over 50 hours transporting senior citizens to medical appointments. Downs is an active member on the Town of Fremont Planning Board as well as a member of the Design and Planning Committee for the new Fremont Town Hall. Helping with buildings and grounds upkeep at the WJFF radio station is another activity Downs stays busy with when he isn’t with his three grandchildren.
Downs is a member with The Mohawk Canoe Club, one of the oldest canoe clubs in the country. Downs is also president of the board of directors of the Delaware Highland Conservancy, designed and built the sign for Long Eddy Hose Company as well as the one for the Long Eddy Veterans Memorial at the cemetery. Downs is known as the go-to-person within his community to volunteer for any project.
Brenda Safer • Bethel — Safer has almost six years of volunteer service with RSVP under her belt, along with 15 years of service with Community Driver Safety Program, on top of her six years with AARP and two years as a tutor with the Literacy Volunteers of America. Safer is also a Vestry Clerk, serving for over 10 years with St. John Episcopal Church. Safer has been involved with Sunday school for five years.
Sheila Coleman • Callicoon — Logged 241 hours of volunteer service in 2009. Coleman has volunteered at Catholic Charities and parishes to assist the needy. Coleman, 87, also volunteers at Catskill Regional Medical Center to help on the skilled nursing unit and assists the recreation staff with bingo and other activities.
Jacalyn C. Robisch • Cochecton — Has been a RSVP member for over a year. According to Robisch, the focus of her volunteer activities is literacy and children. Robisch is a past president of the Callicoon Kiwanis Club and a member of the Catholic Daughters of America, and secretary of the charitable Court Father Raphael. As a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Tau Chapter, an international honor society for women educators, Robisch reads to children at Sullivan’s WIC program. As a volunteer of the Literacy Partners of Sullivan West, Robisch helps raise money to give out two free books to each elementary student at Sullivan West.
Judy Tolkacz • Delaware — Has been a member of RSVP for 15 years. Tolkacz, 81, volunteers at the Jeffersonville Nutrition Site, packaging meals for the elderly receiving home-delivered meals. Tolkacz is president of the Nutrition Advisory Council and helps keep the program running and plans the distribution of annual fruit baskets and cookies for the holidays.
Max Selman • Fallsburg — A member of RSVP for eight years, Selman, 89, is a World War II Veteran. He was in the interior decorating business for 50 years, and owned his own firm for 35 years. Selman didn’t retire completely until age 85 and began volunteering at Catskill Regional Medical Center in the Human Resource/ Payroll Department. Selman also volunteers to help serve food at the Oncology Golf Tournament Picnic, along with the volunteering at the Heart-A-Thon and the Muscular Dystrophy fundraisers annually. Whenever there is a theatre event, Selman helps volunteer at Sullivan County Community College.
Elaine Alensky • Forestburgh — Has lived in the same house in Forestburgh for over 62 years. A member of the Forestburgh Community Club, Elaine has been part of the Forestburgh FD Ladies Auxiliary for over 10 years, and has volunteered her time for 25 years to help serve senior citizens lunches.
Grace Tews • Highland — Worked as a Home Health Aide for three years and found the line of work very rewarding. Tews currently assists the nutrition site manager at the Eldred Nutrition Site. While volunteering, Tews packs Meals on Wheels, a service that delivers meals right to people’s doorstep. She also serves seniors at the congregate meal site and helps clean up after.
Bea Martin • Liberty — Has volunteered with the 4-H program and the Girl Scouts for many years. Martin was a 40-year member of the Swan Lake FD Ladies Auxiliary. Martin currently crochets and knits infant sweaters, lap robes, and blankets for the needy in the community.
Sheila Hocker • Lumberland — Worked as a clerk at several hospitals and eventually became office manager for Dr. Jane Brooks and, after two years, a receptionist for Port Jervis OB/GYN. As a member of the Pond Eddy United Methodist Church, Hocker ran its thrift store from May 2004 through May 2009. Hocker recorded 806 volunteer hours making lap robes for the elderly. Additionally, Hocker volunteers at the Eldred Sunshine Library once a week and makes crafts to donate at various church craft fairs.
Robert Connor • Mamakating — Logged 1,019 hours by knitting blankets, lap robes, door stoppers, and more. Connor can thank his mother for his knitting skills, who hooked him on knitting 20 years ago. After retiring three years ago from volunteering in a city hospital operating room for several months, Connor picked up knitting again. While volunteering at the hospital, Connor delivered schedules, wrapped bandages, and performed other miscellaneous jobs.
Dorothy Muthig • Neversink — Has over 30 years of volunteer service in the books. Muthig has been a trustee/treasurer for the Time and the Valleys Museum for six years. Running the Daniel Pierce Library maple syrup program and holding the title of secretary of the Catskill Maple Producers Association also keep her busy. Since its origin, Dorothy has been a member of the Neversink Rondout Antique Machinery Association. Muthig has volunteered with the Sullivan County Trail Association for the past 18 years, is one of the originators and vendors of the Sullivan County Farmers Market for the past 14 years. In addition, she is a Master Food Preserver, member of the Liberty Belles Homemaker Group, is part of 4-H Extravaganza, was on the Board of Trustees through Cornell Cooperative Extension, volunteering for 50 years with its various programs.
Elizabeth Policoro • Rockland — Has been a RSVP member for over 10 years. As a registered nurse in NJ, she would often volunteer private duty nursing to friends, family members, and acquaintances. Anne Rajewski, Policoro’s daughter, remembers when her mother fought a brush fire while living in Cameron, NY. Policoro helped the fire fighters, who were shorthanded. Upon moving to Roscoe, Policoro became involved with the Fire Department Auxiliary. There she would help fundraise, assist with holiday events, and helped feed the volunteers searching for survivors during the June 2007 flash floods. Helping at Kiwanis fundraising events, such as pancake breakfasts, was not unusual for Policoro.
Barbra Fogarty • Thompson — Has been a RSVP member for six years. After working at the Department of Social Services for nine years as a legal stenographer and after retiring from the Veterans Service Agency 15 years ago as its executive secretary, she began volunteering at the Catskill Regional Medical Center in the Skilled Nursing Unit. Fogarty also belongs to Happy Footers Square Dance Club (over 33 years), Sullivan Legal Secretaries Association (21 years), St. Peter’s Rosary Society of Monticello (seven years), as well as the Senior Legislative Action Committee (SLAC) for the past four years.
Charles Sheibling • Tusten — As a six-year RSVP member, Sheibling has served at the Narrowsburg Nutrition Site as a volunteer. Sheibling feels that helping the elderly receive meals on wheels is where he needs to put in his time as a volunteer because some elderly are homebound and can no longer cook for themselves. Sheibling is also involved with the Narrowsburg Garden on the River Club, repairs park benches, painted the welcome signs for the town of Tusten, and is planning to spend a large portion of his summer helping the Sullivan Renaissance and other beautification programs in the town of Tusten. Sheibling believes a difference can be made by just giving a little bit of your time.

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