Managers of Flood-Relief Center Receive Humanitarian Award
Contributed By By Tom Croft, Church News contributor
At an award dinner on April 1 in Loveland, Colorado, the Loveland Colorado Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints awarded its 2014 Charity Never Faileth Humanitarian Award to Cathy Kissner and June Spaulding, who spearheaded efforts to aid thousands of victims of last year’s flooding in northern Colorado.
Loveland Stake President Mark Crane presented the awards to Kissner and Spaulding following remarks by himself; Devin Davis, facilities maintenance superintendent of Public Works for the city of Loveland; and Pastor Ed Barnett, Rocky Mountain Conference president of the Seventh-Day Adventists.
Kissner and Spaulding received the award for their instrumental roles in establishing and managing the Northern Colorado Emergency Distribution Center, which provided relief supplies to thousands of area flood victims from mid-September 2013 through March 28, 2014. “The Emergency Distribution Center was the ‘store’ where clients—those impacted by the flooding—shopped for items they needed to return to their ‘new normal,’” Kissner explained.
Kissner and Spaulding managed center operations, which included collecting and staging donated items and coordinating with the city of Loveland, Larimer County, and the Colorado Office of Emergency Management. They also managed, on a day-to-day basis, the staffing of the center with volunteers, both individuals and those from a variety of organizations.
During its period of operation, over 6,400 volunteers served at the center, and over 500,000 items were distributed to flood victims, according to Davis. During the period from September 16 through December 31, 2013, local Church members from the Fort Collins and Loveland stakes donated 3,288 hours of service at the center.
In attendance at the April 1 award dinner were members of the recipients’ families, local Seventh-Day Adventist pastors, local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and local business and community leaders.
Kissner and Spaulding’s involvement in the flood-relief effort began with a phone call on September 14, 2013, from the Loveland Office of Emergency Management. In that call, they were asked to organize and manage the collection and distribution of donated supplies in the local area. Kissner and Spaulding proceeded to set up and operate the distribution center in donated space at two different locations.
Susan Vickers, a member of the Stetson Creek Ward of the Loveland stake, was a frequent volunteer at the center over a four-month period. “One of the neat things about the center was observing how members of the community united for a common cause. It was fun interacting with those whose desire was to serve others. As my role at the center changed, I had many opportunities to meet and speak with many of the clients whom the center served. I was touched deeply by their stories of courage and strength and felt a great love and compassion for these people whom I was serving,” she said.
Both Kissner and Spaulding have been active in humanitarian service for many years. Kissner served as the Kansas-Nebraska Conference community service director of the Seventh-Day Adventists for eight years and has been serving as the Rocky Mountain Conference community service department director for the past 17 years.
Throughout those 17 years, Kissner has also served on the boards of three charitable agencies: Colorado Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, Denver Adventist Community Service Center, and the Grand Valley Adventist Community Service Center. When she lived in Kansas, she served for two years as the vice chair for the Sherman County American Red Cross.
“I am proud to be a native Coloradoan. I am so pleased to see individuals, agencies, schools, service organizations, and government entities come together to help those in need. During the flood-relief activities, old partnerships were strengthened and new ones were established. I realize that there is a lot of work yet to be done, but we are standing together,” Kissner said.
Spaulding served as the director of the Adventist Community Services (ACS) for the Fort Collins Seventh-Day Adventists for 17 years until the closing of the center. In addition to being director of the local ACS, she has worked within the ACS framework in responding to a number of disasters. Specifically, she has assisted with relief efforts for the Spring Creek flood in Fort Collins, the Boulder four-mile fire, the Windsor tornado, the High Park fire, and last year’s flooding.
“I am humbled to receive this award. I am but one face among many volunteers who put in countless hours to help people in their time of need. I would like to dedicate this award to the volunteers who make it their life’s work to make a difference in the lives of people who have experienced a loss during a disaster,” Spaulding said.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped us keep the operation of the Emergency Distribution Center running smoothly. I would also like to thank the LDS members for their support for the operation of the Emergency Distribution Center, for donating their time and the goods we needed to help fill the needs of the flood survivors,” Spaulding added.
For several years running, the Loveland Colorado Stake has presented the Charity Never Faileth Humanitarian Award annually to one or more individuals who have provided noteworthy humanitarian service to uplift individuals and families in the Loveland and Fort Collins area during the past year.
“We feel it is important to recognize those who make significant contributions to people in need in our local communities. That is why we began, a few years ago, to hold these award banquets and to give out this kind of award. It's not something we do necessarily every year. Rather, we give the award when we observe service to the needy in our community that we feel needs to be recognized. We are so grateful for what Cathy and June have done to help flood victims in northern Colorado, and we are grateful to all of those, including Church members, who volunteered and so freely gave of their time and energy at the distribution center in Loveland,” President Crane said.