Jefferson Awards For Public Service
The Jefferson Awards for Public Service are given annually as a way to recognize individuals for their community and public service efforts...individuals who have made Wyoming and the world, a better place. By recognizing and honoring outstanding public service, the Jefferson Awards also serves to encourage others to volunteer. The awards are sponsored statewide by KCWY News 13, Hilltop National Bank, Serve Wyoming and Mountain View Regional Hospital & Clinic.
All nominees will be honored at a luncheon on April 8, 2013. Of this distinguished group, the four following Wyoming State winners will receive a Jefferson Awards Medallion at the luncheon. One of the four Wyoming Jefferson Award winners will then be chosen by a panel of judges in Washington, DC to represent the people of Wyoming at the national awards ceremony in Washington DC in June 2013.
R. Stan Lowe
This individual is nominated for a 2013 Jefferson Aware because the military is not only in Stan's blood, but there is so much more he has done for military families in Wyoming. Stan is known across Wyoming as "Mr. Military" for his tireless efforts to remember the sacrifices of this "Greatest Generation" of men and women. Stan's story started 70 years ago when at 19 years old he answered his country's call to serve in the United States Merchant Marines during WWII. Little did he know in 1942 that he would spend almost four years of his life in harm's way aboard five different ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres carrying troops and supplies, while dodging German and Japanese submarines. Ultimately, the Merchant Marines would have the highest casualty rate of any branch of service. Stan attained the rank of Lieutenant and, fortunately, none of his ships got sunk. Guess that is why his buddies nicknamed him "Rabbits Foot". Though not a doctor, Stan served as a medical assistant and chaplain in the military. One of his first assignments was to assist in amputations on eight soldiers, a daunting challenge at 19.
After his discharge, Stan has dedicated his life to giving back to our country and those who gave so much to protect our freedoms. Stan became a highly recognized attorney in Wyoming and served in our Wyoming Legislature in the 60's, becoming an authority on veteran's issues. He was appointed by Governors to the Wyoming Veteran's Affairs Commission, which he served for 14 years, and has served on several National Veterans Boards. Members of the Legislature and U.S. Congress still call Stan to get his advice on Veterans' issues. When Stan speaks – people listen.
Stan is a unique role model and patriot! His "Love of Country" is never ending. Though he lost the love of his life, his wife, several years ago and has recently been battling several critical health issues, he continues to help others. He was the force responsible for the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum in Casper. He is an unofficial guardian of the Veterans' Cemetery and the enhancements to those facilities.
For 14 years, he hosted the USS Wyoming ship's annual reunion. He was one of the original organizers for the Wyoming Honor Flights to take our WWII Veterans back to Washington, D.C. Stan could have gone on one of the earlier flights, but declined because at 86, "he wanted some of the older Vets to go first". Two years ago he finally went and I had the privilege of being Stan's Guardian and there was not one person out of the 120 Vets in attendance that Stan did not personally "thank" for their service and within the 48 hour period – all were friends with Stan.
Stan is still involved with every VFW and American Legion Post in our state. He has been a mentor to thousands of our youth involved in American Legion baseball the last 50 years. He writes bi-weekly articles for the Casper Journal on military issues and historical perspectives. A room lights up when Stan enters with his vivacious smile and enthusiasm of a 13 year old. Those that know Stan know; when you want something done – call Stan.
In January, Stan was honored by the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee with the establishment of the American Legion Post 2 Stan Lowe Scholarship at Casper College to benefit student veterans and/or military family members. Senator Barrasso also read a tribute to Lowe on the floor of the US Senate in the first session of the 113th Congress. Stan's dedication to events for deploying and returning Vets has been unwavering and attends them all. He attends every Memorial Day and Flag Day ceremony and "Never Forgets Those Who Served". The U.S. Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance are more than just symbols to Stan – they are his "Badge of Honor".
Jerry and Joyce Ostrom
These individuals are nominated for a 2013 Jefferson Award because Jerry and Joyce founded "Dano camp" in memory of their son, Dan. Over the past 17 years 450 youth have been able to experience physical, emotional, social and spiritual growth through forty-five "mini" wilderness survival camps.
Following one and two day trainings, the campers embark on an 8-day backpacking trip in the wilderness. Working with a Board of Directors, they provide trainings for 30 volunteer camp leaders and the logistics of planning and conducting 5 events and camps annually.
Joyce spent 50 years a 4H leader in consumer science; mentoring leadership, record books, presentations and training workshops. She was also county fair superintendent of 4-H indoor exhibits for 15 years in two states and judged county fairs exhibits for 25 years. As county and state officer for the 4H council, she attended the 4H Western Regional Leaders Forum seven times. Three times she hosted and chaired the registration and hospitality committees.
Twenty-five years ago, she was one of four organizers and an officer of the Future Farmers of America parent support group.
Jerry has spent 40 years as a 4H leader in shooting sports, wildlife and natural resources and a leader and teacher with Hunter Safety classes for 40 years certifying 600 + youth.
He was the Wyoming Outstanding Hunter Safety Leader and 2003 NW 4-H Regional 4-H Shooting Sports Leader. Jerry has volunteered for 10 years as a driver taking Disabled American Vets to medical appointments.
Jerry received a US Secret Service Certificate of Appreciation for 8 years contributions to law enforcement responsibilities of the US Secret Service. In 2008, he received a Certificate of Appreciation from Vice President Dick Cheney for assisting with the training of troops in mule packing for combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Additionally, he plays in two bands performing ten times a month at nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living homes. Jerry also coached Little League Baseball and Joyce was chairman of scorekeepers for five years. After raising three sons, they helped raised two granddaughters.
Rose Alice Peterson
This individual is nominated for a 2013 Jefferson Awards because Alice Peterson has spent her lifetime in giving, not only to her family but to her church, community and state. As a young boy I remember my mother always helping out, weather it was as a room mother for grade school, 4-H leader, or baking and cooking for Church and Boy Scout fund raisers. As a 55 plus year member of Christ United Methodist Church, she was the "go to" person for most everything but missions seemed to be her calling in helping provide food, clothing, and basic needs for the less fortunate.
In 1969 I remember while I was in the Trooper Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, performing at the Soldiers and Sailors retirement homes in Buffalo and Sheridan, I saw our family suburban next to one of the veteran's center buildings and wondered why it was there? Upon returning to Casper I asked my mother why our vehicle was in Sheridan and she said she was delivering 275 dozen cookies to the veterans that her and a couple of ladies from the Legion Auxiliary had baked. I don't know how long before that they had been baking and delivering cookies, but they are still did it in 2012 delivering over 900 dozen cookies that year, with a total over the years in the tens of thousands.
In the mid 1970's she had a heart pace maker put in and people said she was going to have to slow down and not work so hard helping everybody else. She is now on pacer number 4 and still going from dawn to dark. In the 1980's Alice went to work for the Wyoming School for the Deaf as a teacher's aide helping hearing impaired grade school children learn to communicate with Sign Language and helping mainstream the children into the hearing classrooms. She would work before school and late into the evening practicing signing and working on papers for her hearing impaired students until she retired from the school.
For close to 30 years she has made "Hug a Bears" handmade teddy bears. These Hug a Bears were first given to police officers to have to give to young children who for some circumstances needed to hug something to console them and were given one of the bears, thus the name Hug a Bear. They are now also distributed to Early Head Start, Community Health Center and the Blood Lab. She has been making 175-200 bears a year adding up to several thousand bears given.
Other community involvement include monthly buying and giving of clothes and basic need items to the Health Care For the Homeless Clinic at her own expense. Purchasing the food and cooking a meal for up to several dozen people at the Homeless Mission every 4th Thursday of the month. She has been with the Mended Hearts support group, as well as many others for years. These are just a few of the reasons why I think Alice Peterson deserves to be nominated for the 2013 Jefferson Award.
This individual is nominated for a 2013 Jefferson Award because at 101 years of age, Helen Potts is involved in virtually every aspect of life in our community. Since moving to Riverton in 2002, Helen has made herself indispensible in ways both small and large. Shortly after her arrival she showed up to help with our Main Street Reconstruction celebration, handing out hamburgers and introducing herself. Since this early gesture, Helen has not stopped giving of herself to Riverton. Every year she hands out candy at local businesses during the Downtown Halloween Party.
In 2008, and again in 2010, she volunteered on the committee to pass an athletic field bond issue for School District #25/Riverton. During that second election Helen walked Federal Boulevard, a distance of two miles, entering every bar, restaurant and store to hand out posters supporting the bond issue and encouraging people to vote for it. She frequently writes letters to the editor, mostly congratulating someone or some organization for a job well done in our community. These letters often involve Central Wyoming College, as she attends nearly every public event there. Helen would tell you that these events keep her in touch with young people and that keeps her young. And indeed it does. She has taught Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and volunteered at local schools.
At her apartment complex, Helen started a recycling program, Initiated a Wednesday morning coffee hour for the residents, and visits her neighbors, both young and old. In terms of visitation, those of us who love her teasingly call her visits, "Helen's Rounds". She has a regular rotation: from her apartment visits, to our assisted living center, to our nursing home, Helen makes her rounds. These people depend on seeing her always-cheerful face framed by curly white hair.
Helen is a member of two book clubs where ages range from young people in their 30s to our Helen at 101. Imagine her gifts to all of us in these groups!
Finally, Helen is passionate in living her faith. The flowers surrounding the front door of Riverton United Methodist Church? Helen plants them every June. Fair trade coffee sales that benefit small farmers worldwide? Helen runs it. Christmas boxes shipped to children in need worldwide? Helen organized it. Mission work on the Wind River Indian Reservation? Helen's there, teaching children how to make dolls and organizing tea parties. Need help with the local community Christmas dinner, food for the food bank, supper for the church youth group? Helen's your woman.
And yet her greatest contribution to us in Riverton is her spirit at age 101. Most of us won't live to that age, but ALL of us can learn from Helen Potts how to age gracefully while being an active volunteer.
Congratulations to all of the nominees and the four state winners.
The 9th Annual Jefferson Awards for Public Service is sponsored by Hilltop National Bank, Serve Wyoming, Mountain View Regional Hospital and Clinic and KCWY News 13.