Two Juneau residents were honored this month by Gov. Sarah Palin, winning awards for being among the state's Outstanding Volunteers of the Year.
Barbara Murray and Ron King were part of a group of 11 people picked from diverse parts of Alaska, from Ketchikan to Anchorage to Wasilla. They were all recognized on April 23 with a luncheon in Anchorage.
The recipients were selected by a committee led by Sally Heath, Palin's mother. They took part in volunteer activities within the state, making what Palin's office described as a "substantial impact on their community" and showing "remarkable personal commitment to long-term volunteer service."
King donated his time and efforts to Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, using his skills as a massage therapist and leading a loss support group.
"I volunteer because there are so many people you get to work with," King said. "You get more than you put into it, really."
Kim Redifer, program director for Hospice, said one of King's major contributions has been to facilitate meetings for people experiencing suicide-related grief.
"People come to the office or the home where Ron is, where they can talk about their loss and work through the grief process," Redifer said.
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"He does lots of things for us," she said. "He sometimes will go to patients' homes. He is a massage therapist, and he has provided massage therapy for no charge to patients."
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Debbie McBride went through training with King, she said.
"He's really selfless," she said. "He's not one that's in the limelight. He has a lot of humility."
Murray, a juvenile justice specialist with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, volunteers with Meals With Wheels Program and is a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters. A Big Sister for about three years, she has been a real help to her little sister, 10-year-old Ashley, according to Executive Director Marc Wheeler.
"Barb's a really busy person, but she still makes time for Ashley," Wheeler said. "When they can't get together, they talk on the phone."
"We want to congratulate her for her volunteerism," he added.
In a prepared statement, Palin praised the volunteers.
"It's an honor to participate in this wonderful program that recognizes citizens who have given their time and talent to help others," Palin said. "Our state is blessed to have so many Alaskans committed to helping their communities and fellow citizens."
Ken Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.