In August, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) served as the presenting sponsor of the City of Albuquerque’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Appreciation Breakfast, which honored senior volunteers in the community.
Millie Martinez has been volunteering with RSVP since 1997 and received the RSVP Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. She said, “I love it – it’s my life. It helps me stay busy and out of trouble, gives me a new perspective on the city and allows me to meet new friends. It’s the best medicine.”
This was BCBSNM’s eighth year sponsoring the event hosted by the Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs. RSVP volunteers choose how, where and how often they serve the community, with commitments ranging from a few hours up to 40 hours per week.
“On behalf of BCBSNM, I want to extend my deepest thanks to each and every one of you for your commitment to our community,” said Janice Torrez, president of BCBSNM, during the event. “Like you, we want to help make New Mexico a healthier place to live, and that’s exactly what your volunteer work is achieving.”
Longtime volunteer Phyllis Vilchuck said volunteering at the Westside Animal Shelter caring for animals has been a highlight of her retirement. She added that she enjoyed the appreciation breakfast, as it allowed her to catch up with other volunteers. “The breakfast was wonderful, and the company was even better,” she said. “It’s so encouraging to see so many volunteers giving back to our community.”
At the event, Bear Canyon Senior Center was awarded Volunteer Station of the Year with 4,772 volunteer hours logged. Frank Marquez was awarded Rookie of the Year, as he began volunteering with the RSVP program at Highland Senior Center Kitchen last August and has already logged 236 hours. The Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed to Jean Spalt, who has been serving Visit Albuquerque Old Town Visitor Center for over 17 years.
During his address, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller thanked more than 400 volunteers in attendance for their service. Guests enjoyed breakfast and a rousing mariachi performance by the Santa Fe Youth Symphony’s Mariachi Estrella group.
“As RSVP volunteers, not only do you donate your time, but you also provide the city with a wealth of knowledge that could only come from a lifetime of experience,” Mayor Keller said during his welcome message. “By lending your talents to support the causes you believe in, you’re paving the way for all of us by demonstrating how to thrive while embracing aging.”