Slingerlands resident Robert Lamar, 92, has been volunteering to help others ever since he was a young man. These days, he continues that tradition with his work at Colonie Senior Services and as a director or member of 20 other local volunteer organizations.
“It’s like being able to play golf after you had to give up. I’ve loved every minute of volunteer work. I learned about it early in my life when I was still a student in high school and college,” said Lamar.
The Albany County Executive’s office honored Lamar and eight others at an event Thursday, April 24, to recognize those who have dedicated themselves to community service and helping others.
In the Cahill Room of the Harold L. Joyce Albany County Office Building, County Executive Dan McCoy awarded five people with the County Executive’s Volunteer Award, and four people received honorable mention for dedication to their projects.
“Once again, we come together to honor the great people who live here in Albany County who give themselves for others,” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. “Those we honor today are people of all ages and walks of life who live across Albany County and are taking action to help others.”
Those that received awards volunteered for a variety of different organizations and causes across the county. From Sister Marge Mineau of Albany, who has volunteered with Little Sisters of the Poor for more than 50 years, to Richard Walker of Watervliet, who has spent 16 years as a volunteer on the USS Slater, the volunteers all have contributed to making Albany a better place.
After learning that his mother had Alzheimer’s in 2006, Dave DeVoe has volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association and also with the Special Olympics torch run.
“The Alzheimer’s Association is something that is near and dear to me, as far as my mom, and I will continue until I can’t do it anymore. The Special Olympics is something that brings you a ton of joy. There is zero cost to the athletes through donations from the public, so these guys go out and enjoy their winter games and summer games,” said DeVoe.
Charlotte Fuss of Altamont coordinates food services for seniors in the hilltowns as well as volunteering with the Bethlehem Seniors, and had computers donated to the senior center among many other projects.
Margy McKenna of East Berne was recognized for her work and dedication to the Capital City Rescue Mission. Her most recent task was organizing the annual Easter dinner at the mission, where hundreds of people were fed a hot meal and 25 children received Easter baskets. One of her more important tasks is helping to maintain the finances at the mission. She’s also on the board for the Bethlehem Cemetery.
“I feel very blessed to be able to give me time and my skills to the Capital City Rescue Mission. It is such a wonderful place. I’ve seen lives transformed with their ministry … I just feel so honored to be there,” said McKenna. “I hope to continue to do this for many years to come.”
Walker served in the Coast Guard and reserves, and wanted to help honor those who served in World War II by working with the Slater. For the last 16 years, he has worked as a tour guide on the ship, as a storekeeper, as a maintenance person and as an event organizer.
“The whole motivation for me was to work with the WWII vets, who were the first ones volunteering on the Slater when it first came to Albany, and having the opportunity with school groups when they bring the kids. They don’t know why they aren’t bowing to a picture of the emperor or giving a Nazi salute. They find out when they come to the Slater,” said Walker.
The USS Slater played an important role as a minesweeper during WWII, stopping German U-boats from blowing up more allied ships.
“I have the highest regard for the veterans older than I that I have had the honor to work with over the last 16 years, and I like to thank them for letting a shallow water sailor — as they like to call us ‘coasties’ — come down and work on their ship,” said Walker.