The road to recognition: New Scotland’s drivers honored for helping seniors

NEW SCOTLAND — Last week, Albany County honored volunteers including the drivers of New Scotland’s senior outreach program, elderly residents to medical appointments, shops, community meals, social events, and other services.

The program’s coordinator, Susan Kidder, said the 14 New Scotland volunteers had driven 30,735 miles since January 2012, making, 3046 one-way trips and contributing just over 1,949 hours of service.

 The volunteers were among others honored at an awards ceremony held April 23 at the county office building along State Street in Albany,

“A nation should be judged on who they honor,” said County Executive Daniel McCoy, quoting George Washington. McCoy said the awards are meant to recognize the selfless efforts of regular people and small community groups.

"Here you have one of them that stands out in the Hilltowns,” he said. “You have a group, volunteers, that take seniors to doctors’ appointments — that’s what it’s about, recognizing them that make the quality of life better for their neighbors.”

He presented each of the volunteers with the 2013 Albany County Executive’s Volunteer Award, which reads, “In recognition of your extraordinary dedication and contributions to the community.”

“The diverse group we honor today illustrates that the spirit of volunteerism and giving is alive and well. I am proud to present these awards to the honorees and I want to thank all those who submitted nominations. We deeply appreciate all they do to help the community,” said McCoy.

Two of the New Scotland drivers being honored were unable to attend the event because they were busy volunteering.

“I have two that are out doing volunteer work and can’t be here today; they’re out delivering meals to shut-ins,” Kidder said, speaking before a group of about 40 people, representing local politicians, honorees, family members, and others seated in the Cahill Conference Room.

“We were supposed to nominate one person but I called them and said, ‘I can’t pick. Every one of them is so valuable to our community and saving taxpayers a ton of money if they had to pay someone to do this,’” said Kidder.

Kidder admitted she had her own interests at stake when contributing to the elderly.

“When the time comes, when I’m 90 to 95 and I can no longer drive and I’m still living in the house I was born and raised in, they’d better come help me,” she said.

She said the program does more than just offer the elderly the minimal services; it allows them to have social interactions and live a better life.

The New Scotland Senior Outreach volunteers who were honored are: George Kendall, Larry Walley, Mark Stangle, Bob Harms, Pamela Traverse, Cindy Elliott, Mary Miller, Julianne VanPraag, Elaine Cowles, Barbara Jones, Jack Carey, Saul Abrams, Carl Trieber, and Herb Leichman.

Kidder said another 20 volunteers also participated in the program, many of them contributing a few times a year.

“But these are the folks, when I’m in a panic, I call and they’ll drop what they’re doing to come help,” she said of those being recognized.

McCoy also recognized the following volunteers for their contributions at the ceremony and his office released a listing of their accomplishments.

— David Scoons and Steve Kroll: Scoons is the president of the board of directors at the volunteer Delmar-Bethlehem Emergency Medical Service and Kroll is its chief of operations. The service answers 3,500 emergency calls annually.   In January, the Delmar and Bethlehem EMS consolidated and McCoy recognized the two men for being “instrumental in making the transition a smooth one”;

— Lily Killar: At 15, she is the youngest volunteer to ever win the award. “This 10th-grader from Slingerlands volunteers for the ‘Adopt a Child at Christmas’ program. For the last five years, she has helped hundreds of families by fund-raising and collecting gifts for needy families. She had coordinated numerous fund-raisers and, over the last five years, she has collected more than 1,300 gifts,” reported McCoy;

— Steven Winters:  He has volunteered at organizations, including the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations, Second Avenue Neighborhood Association, the Albany Public Library Neighborhood Advisory Committee, and others. He was nominated by Assemblyman John McDonald;

— Tom and Mary Ragosta:  Lifelong residents of Watervliet, they helped establish the Watervliet Historical Museum. “Since the museum was established in 2008, they have given of their time and insight to bring alive the rich history of Watervliet,” said McCoy.  

Honorable Mention Certificates were given to Daniel Nester, Diane Hoffman, Francis William Asprion Jr., Helga Apkarian, Kathleen Bain Busch, Mary Briggs, Pauline Kubizne, Rosalind Lombardo, and William G. Floyd for their community contributions.

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