Alma Allen plus Ralph and Nancy Arditi are named volunteers of the year

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - APPRECIATED BY MANY - Honored as the Tigard Senior Center's 2014 Volunteers of the Year are Alma Allen (left) and Ralph and Nancy Arditi, who were introduced at the center's annual volunteer reception held April 30.The small Tigard Senior Center staff is always appreciative of its many volunteers and the contributions they make to help keep the facility running smoothly and efficiently, and once a year the staff honors those people at a Volunteer Appreciation Reception.

This year, the event was held April 30 at the senior center and honored Volunteers of the Year Alma Allen plus Ralph and Nancy Arditi.

"We really couldn't do anything without our volunteer crew," said Director Jay Gilbertson, who threw a lot of amazing numbers at the dozens of people gathered in the dining room for refreshments.

In the last year, the center served 944 seniors, who ate 18,448 meals; in addition, 267 clients received 31,965 lunches through Meals-on-Wheels. Over the year, 490 volunteers did a myriad of jobs totaling 21,534 hours with 150 volunteers on average showing up each week.

"At the minimum wage of $9.50, that would have cost us $195,863.70," Gilbertson said. "You can see what an impact you have.

"Each year the Steering Committee is called upon to do the awful task of selecting someone to be Volunteer of the Year. There should be a plaque for everybody. It's always quite a list, but there are always few who go above and beyond."

Allen has been a volunteer for 12 years and has contributed 2,400 hours, coming twice a week to pack Meals-on-Wheels lunches into coolers for the drivers, and she also works Mondays as the receptionist.

The Arditis are soon coming up on the six-year mark as Meals-on-Wheels drivers, according to Gilbertson. He pointed out that with Oregon weather, the drivers still deliver no matter what the conditions, and even when it's raining, they have to get in and out of their vehicles at each stop.

And Gilbertson knows firsthand the rigors of delivering meals because he said he does it occasionally if a driver can't make it.

"Ralph and Nancy never complain, although we try to have sunshine from 11 to 1 or at least no rain," Gilbertson said. "Since 2000 they have donated 3,383 hours. I didn't realize the depth of the connection between the drivers and clients until I tried to change Ralph's route to make a smaller route bigger, and I heard from one of the clients that he didn't want to lose Ralph."

When Gilbertson asked the honored volunteers why they do it, Nancy said, "Our neighbor did it, and I always wanted to do it. I rode along with my neighbor and signed up that day. Getting this award is just icing on the cake - this is most rewarding thing I do."

Ralph added, "This program cannot stop. Sometimes these people stay in their homes all day, and the only person they see is us. Thank you for the reward - Nancy and I really appreciate it."

Gilbertson said to all three honored guests, "You know how much we appreciate you. We couldn't do this without you. This program would not be sustainable without volunteers who help us fulfill our mission of no senior going hungry or experiencing isolation."

The Tigard Senior Center is located at 8815 S.W. O'Mara St. For information about senior center services and volunteer opportunities, call 503-620-4613.

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