County recognizes eight volunteers |

County recognizes eight volunteers

Eight area residents were awarded special proclamations of appreciation by the Pitkin County commissioners yesterday in recognition of their volunteer work.

The commissioners spent the first half hour of their meeting Wednesday reading the proclamations, which outlined the particular work of each person. All nine were recognized for their volunteer work through the Colorado Cares program.

Jim Ward was credited for his work with senior citizens, including leading hut trips and bicycle trips, driving people around and setting up Christmas decorations every year. Ward, who is also know for volunteering time with the Nordic ski team and the 10th Mountain Division hut system, was given the Colorado Cares Senior Service Award.

Katie Isaacson, 10, is fluent in American Sign Language and a regular volunteer at the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and the Mountain Valley Developmental Association.

She was awarded the Colorado Cares Community Hero Award for helping emergency medical technicians communicate with a deaf man who collapsed at Strawberry Days in Glenwood Springs. Isaacson spent several hours with the man, acting as his interpreter with medical personnel.

Aspen teenager Blake Sloan was given the Rising Star Award for volunteering time at Challenge Aspen, a nonprofit that helps disabled people enjoy outdoor activities. What makes the Aspen High freshman different than other Challenge Aspen volunteers is that he is also a client at Challenge Aspen, using its services to help him overcome his own disability and ski.

Mike Alsdorf, the Community Pride Award winner, was recognized for his work in rebuilding the local chapter of the Red Cross. When he joined the local chapter, there were only three volunteers. It now has over 40, and has a number of programs in place to get Red Cross volunteers on the job at disaster scenes as quickly as possible.

Aspen Middle School Principal Griff Smith was recognized as the Good Samaratian Award recipient for his time volunteering at Challenge Aspen, providing assistance on skis to people with disabilities, including Tom Isaacs, the county assessor who has been in a wheelchair for about 20 years.

Sue Smedstad was given the title of “Pitkin County’s Mother Teresa” in recognition of her lifelong commitment to volunteerism. Smedstad has given time to a wide variety of organizations, including The Aspen Counseling Center, Aspen Peer Support, Aspen Youth Center, Aspen Hall of Fame, Aspen Valley Community Foundation, Leadership Aspen, Neighbor to Neighbor, Response, Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention and the local chapter of the National Organization of Women. Her work was recognized with the Centennial Award.

The Colorado Cares Children/Youth Award was given to Bill Crimmel for over 200 hours a year of volunteer work at the Silver Lining Ranch. Crimmel takes children with cancer who visit the ranch on rafting, cycling and hiking trips in the summer, skiing and sledding in the winter. He once flew with a child to L.A. when there was no one available to accompany him. He even dresses up as “Shrek” for the Christmas party.

And last, but not least, is Cheri Grinnell, who was given the Colorado Cares Health Award for her work developing the Given Institute’s Dental Fair, which is held to educate second-graders on the wisdom of preventative care. Grinnell, a hygienist, convinced a number of her colleagues in the dental industry to volunteer their time for the fair, and a year after the program was initiated, most of the children who participated showed greatly improved dental health.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is]

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