For a lifetime of service and, particularly, for seven years of volunteering to work with dementia patients in Kootenai County, George Holcomb of Rathdrum has received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Senior Companion program.
Senior Companions are age 55 and older and in good health. They volunteer to help people-primarily other seniors-in their communities with simple chores, such as grocery shopping, and transportation to enable them to continue living at home.
George is a Korean War veteran who began volunteering with Senior Companions in 2002. He's a former aircraft mechanic and is often matched with people with similar backgrounds.
"They're desperate for someone to talk to who understands," he says. "One client and I flew the same type of aircraft in the Navy. We swap war stories. He loves it and so do I. It's very rewarding."
George's contributions are inspiring. Despite his struggles with Parkinson's disease, George developed a two-day festival in Rathdrum with music, vendors and exhibits to raise money to refurbish the Kootenai County Public Safety Building.
He's a Dutch oven cooking master and donates his time and skills at various fairs. He also teaches the craft at local Boy Scout encampments.
George's interests span all age groups. He leads a Boy Scout troop, teaches leaders and raised 22 children-two of his own and 20 foster children.
George attends to his community as much as to the people in it. He developed Rathdrum's farmers' market this year and helped refurbish the original Kootenai County jail in Rathdrum. He's currently in negotiations with the city of Rathdrum to create an 8.5-acre park in the city center.
"George is one of those volunteers every organization hopes will come their way," says Tami Johnson, coordinator of the Senior Companion program of the five northern counties. "We appreciate him completely."
George is 1 of 70 Senior Companion Program volunteers serving in the five northern counties. Over the years, he has given more than 9,400 hours of Senior Companion Program service hours to individuals and their families living with Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. George has logged more than 70,000 miles on his personal vehicle to assist these individuals and their families. He has served more than 120 clients and provided respite services to many family caregivers.