Health issues have not stopped Veronica Cordova from giving a lot of time and energy to her community.
Cordova, 60, has battled breast cancer, has had stomach and back surgeries and a knee replacement. Despite these ailments, she has spent 40 years as a dedicated volunteer — starting at the age of 17 teaching children how to read.
She currently volunteers 18 hours weekly at food banks, volunteers for the Adams County Sheriff’s Operation free Bird program, makes Christmas stockings for children, founded the Goat Hill Neighborhood Group and is gearing up now to get a community garden started for the season.
“I figure God gave me the body to do what I can for his people,” Cordova said. “If they need my help and I can do it for them, I will.”
This willingness to do what she can for others has earned Cordova the 2014 Mary Ciancio Memorial Distinguished Service Award for her 40 years of extensive volunteering. The Community Reach Center Foundation Board has presented this award to a volunteer in the community since 1980.
“Ms. Cordova knows her community and how to help. Whether for a child, a senior, a family or an organization, you can count on her to be there,” said Rick Doucet, CEO at Community Reach Center. “The number of years she has served as a volunteer (more than four decades), along with the quantity and quality of her work made her the perfect Mary Ciancio Award recipient this year.”
This year’s award was given at a dinner reception April 17 at Stonebrook Manor in Thornton.
“To be recognized after this long I am so thrilled. I wasn’t prepared for that. I thank them so much for thinking of me,” Cordova said of the award.
Other people who were recognized at the event for their volunteering efforts include Juanita Brito of Thornton, Bob Duensing of Thornton, Joan Kniss of Brighton and Anita Mercado of Commerce City.
Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr was given the 2014 Marjory Ball Mental Health Advocacy Award for his commitment to improving access to mental-health services in Adams County.
Darr has worked with multiple agencies to create programs that support people with mental health issues and supported training law enforcement officers regarding the realities of mental illness, Doucet said.
“He partnered with Community Reach and the 17th Judicial District to create the Community Engagement Supervision & Evaluation Program (CESE), which focuses on diverting non-violent, mentally ill offenders out of the jail system and into intensive treatment and community-based supervision,” said Doucet. “Thanks to Sheriff Darr’s support and leadership, hundreds of offenders have successfully completed the program since its start in 2007. Fewer than 7 percent have re-offended.”
Darr said it felt great to be recognized, but the most important thing is working together to help others. He also credited Community Reach Center professionals for their hard work.
“The number of people with serious mental health issues that we come into contact with has been increasing for years,” he said. “It has a substantial impact on public safety. Years ago we decided that we needed to become a lot more active and effective in an effort to help others and to reduce recidivism. There are so many that really need our assistance and we should do all we can to help them and improve their quality of life.”