As part of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Gold Country Senior Services paid tribute to its own team of stalwart volunteers. A breakfast at the Holbrooke Hotel was held on April 19 to honor those who help serve Nevada County’s senior residents.

Caption: (l to r) Ron Weichel, Victor Gallicchio, Steve Raymond, Deb Cooper and Paul Tebbel have volunteered for Gold Country’s Senior Firewood Program for a combined total of 33 years.
Caption: (l to r) Ron Weichel, Victor Gallicchio, Steve Raymond, Deb Cooper and Paul Tebbel have volunteered for Gold Country’s Senior Firewood Program for a combined total of 33 years.

            “Some who attended are part of our Meals on Wheels Program” said Volunteer Manager Kristy Raihn, “including drivers, packers and kitchen helpers. Others are part of our Senior Firewood Program that provides winter wood to seniors. We also have a Planning Committee for our new Senior Center, as well as Special Projects volunteers who offer assistance to seniors with pets. We even have one resourceful volunteer who recycles all the boxes from kitchen produce and meal preparation.

            “While their roles vary, our more than 150 volunteers have one thing in common – they care deeply about the seniors we serve.”

            The Volunteer Appreciation & Recognition Breakfast proved to be an ideal way to show heartfelt gratitude to each and every volunteer. In 2022, they clocked up a combined total of 8,500 hours, provided approximately 145,000 meals, 337 cords of firewood, and drove 43,000 miles to deliver meals – that’s almost two times around the globe.

            “They are our promise keepers,” Raihn added. “Each one is an ambassador who makes our mission statement come to life. Let me share an example. Many of our Meals on Wheels clients live alone, and they look forward to a friendly “hello” when their drivers arrive. Last week, one client wanted to converse for a little while. Since her driver had other meals to deliver, she offered to come back and chat when she was done, and she did. Other drivers have discovered clients in trouble and phoned for life-saving assistance. In my book, our volunteers are some of the biggest-hearted heroes you could ever hope to meet.”

            All volunteers were honored with a small gift. With the help of Nutrition Director Wendy Van Wagner and Zoe Koenig, Administrative Coordinator, those serving for five years or more also received commemorative, engraved gifts. Longest-serving is Everette Burkard who has been a Meals on Wheels driver for 32 years.

            “Here’s the amazing part,” Raihn explained. “While our volunteers give so much of themselves, they’re often the first to share how much they get in return. Their bond with older clients is strong and the interaction with them runs deep.”

            Board members are volunteers, as well, and an appreciation event for them is scheduled soon.

            There are many ways to get involved, and GCSS welcomes new volunteers. To find out more, phone 530.615.4541, email, or visit

Thank you to Gold Country Senior Services volunteers who have been part of the team for five years or more

Meals on Wheels

5 years:    Marge Biddle, Denisa Garrigues, Mark Renfew, Wendy Renfew

6 years:    Evan Christensen, Jenny Gamboa, Terri Pencovic, Karen Stone

7 years:    Bob Goehl

8 years:    Al Knight, Jacki Schroeder, Robin Smith

9 years:    Jim McFarlane

14 years:  Andy Kneier, Katy Kneier

15 years:  Kathy Hillis, Nancy Metreyeon, Ralph Metreyeon

16 years:  Roger Fetter, Stephanie Hasbrook

17 years:  Dorothea McAlister, Lynne Nugent

20 years:  Mike Crandall

25 years:  Jamie Recarens

32 years:  Everette Burkar

Senior Firewood

5 years:    Joe Bonchonsky, Rich Rodeck

6 years:    John Babin, Ray Bryars, Bill Cecchin, Kent Miller, Gary Spencer

7 years:    Jeff Ellis

11 years:  Debbie Cooper, Roger Henry

12 years:  Jerry Westfall

13 years:  Steve Raymond, Jim Welch

16 years:  Chuck Peterson, Bruce Van Zee

20 years:  Mike Fondiller

Special Projects

5 years:    Barbara Ruble

10 years:  Krista Putnam