When we say we can’t do what we do without our dedicated, hard-working volunteers, we couldn’t be more serious. Last year, volunteers donated 100,600 hours across our distribution centers. That’s the equivalent of more than 4,190 days and $3 million in in-kind support — a truly incredible gift of time, energy, and compassion.
We are so grateful to all our volunteers who choose to spend their valuable time furthering our cause of igniting the power of community to end hunger, and each year, we select individual volunteers and groups to honor for their gift. This year’s volunteer award recipients are:
2023 Betty Van Hook Memorial Award Recipient: Don Novotny
- Total Hours Volunteered: 690+ since August 2021
- Total Unique Shifts: 210+
What started in 2006 as a monthly opportunity to volunteer with his daughter is now a multiple-times-a-week occurrence for Don Novotny, the 2023 Betty Van Hook Memorial award recipient.
“I enjoy giving back to the community,” shared Don. “You can see the need out there and the volume of people that come through to the mobile pantries. I feel like I can do my part to help.”
Even after 17-plus years, Don still gets overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem of hunger.
“It is a privilege to be able to come here and to help people,” said Don. “I think if everyone did a little bit more, it would make things easier for everyone.”
2023 Community Group of the Year: The Monday and Thursday Group
- Number of People in the Group: 15
Most of the faces may be different today than the original volunteer group from 2016, but one thing remains the same: the desire to help neighbors experiencing hunger.
“It really feels useful to know that we’re getting so much food out to people who need it,” said Paula Bunge, who, along with her husband, Ralph, first organized this group to volunteer bi-weekly at Food Bank of the Rockies’ Denver distribution center.
Food Bank of the Rockies is honored to recognize the dedicated volunteers who come each Monday and Thursday to help their neighbors with this first-annual Community Group of the Year award.
2023 Corporate Group of the Year: HealthONE
- Total Mobile Pantries Hosted in 2022: 12
- Total Hours Volunteered at the Distribution Center in 2022: 235
In 2019, HealthONE’s North Suburban Medical Center extended their commitment to people’s health beyond medical care to include another basic need — food — through a monthly mobile pantry. In 2022, the site provided food to 918 households.
“Any one of us could be in need of food at the drop of a hat,” said Ellen Duran, North Suburban Medical Center’s community relations manager. “This feels like a good way for us as a healthcare facility to take care of our community.”
Additionally, in 2022 HealthONE employees volunteered 235 hours at the Denver distribution center. Melissa Osee, Vice President of Government Relations at HealthONE, is also a current board member of Food Bank of the Rockies.
2023 Rising Volunteer of the Year: Jon Fahey
- Total Hours Volunteered: 525+ since August 2021
- Total Unique Shifts: 167+
Jon Fahey has been an avid volunteer since high school and continues his passion for helping others today with Food Bank of the Rockies. What started as one shift every Friday quickly grew into several a week, sparked by Fahey’s dual passion for preventing waste and ensuring everyone has the food they need to thrive.
“It feels satisfying to know that what we’re doing is helping people,” he shared. “I never had to worry about having enough food to eat. I can’t imagine what that’s like. I hate seeing good food go to waste, so making sure it gets to people who need it while also helping others is really important to me.”