Woman recognized for work

Monday, May 1, 2006
Rachel Sitzes of Sikeston has been named a quarterly winner of the Lt. Governor Service Award.

SIKESTON -- When Rachel Sitzes of Sikeston began volunteering 16 years ago, she did it to keep busy -- not to garner attention.

Even so, Sitzes will be recognized by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder for her service Tuesday during a luncheon at the state capitol in Jefferson City.

Earlier this month Sitzes was named a quarterly winner of the Lt. Gov.'s Senior Service Award. As the official senior citizen advocate for the state, Kinder created the award to promote and highlight the positive accomplishments that Missouri's senior citizens continually provide their local communities.

"This has been a very successful program," said Barry Bennett, spokesperson for Kinder's office. "The response from volunteers has been more than anticipated actually. There are a lot more seniors than you can imagine who are out there volunteering and who need to be recognized."

Bennett said the office receives over 100 award applicants each quarter. Sitzes was one of 10 people this quarter -- and 40 throughout the past year -- to receive the award.

"There are thousands of Missourians whose lives are touched by the unselfish work and caring hand of someone like Rachel Sitzes," Kinder said. "These acts of kindness go on unnoticed every day. Rachel offers her time and labor back to the community, and I am bringing her story to the public so we can thank her for this work."

In addition to attending the luncheon, Sitzes will receive an official declaration from Kinder and a Senior Service Award lapel pin.

Sitzes was nominated for the award by her granddaughter Robyn Sitzes of Sikeston in recognition of her 16 years of service at Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston.

"The reason I nominated her is because she's been such an inspiration," Robyn Sitzes said about her grandmother, who is a retired registered nurse and worked for the Scott County Health Department for 26 years.

Robyn Sitzes, who is 34 and her grandmother's oldest grandchild, said she learned about the award after attending a meeting where Kinder was speaking.

"I felt my grandma was worthy of this award," Robyn Sitzes said. She also feels her grandmother's personal accomplishments helped win her the award. "Growing up, she never missed a game or school event," Robyn Sitzes said. "She was always there. She was a single mother most of her life. Her husband died when her kids were 16 and younger, and she maintained a job and paid for the family farm while taking care of her family all at the same time."

Although the award is sanctioned by the state, Robyn Sitzes isn't the only person who appreciates her grandmother's service.

"She is a very dependable and a kind, loving volunteer," said Joann Matthews, volunteer coordinator at MDMC, about "We're extremely proud."

Earlier this year, Sitzes also received her 15-year volunteer pin. She works four six-hour days each week at front desks in various departments.

Nominees for Kinder's Senior Service Award must be at least 60 years old and volunteer a minimum of 40 hours over the past year in their community. Senior volunteers can be nominated on a quarterly basis by filling out a brief form available on Kinder's Web site, www.ltgov.mo.gov. Letters of recommendation must accompany the nomination forms.

There are no hard and fast rules for choosing award recipients, Bennett said. "Basically all the applicants are winners of some sort, but the winners may have a slightly more compelling story about them," Bennett said.

Sitzes, who admitted she was very surprised when she learned about the award, credits the hospital and other volunteers more than herself for serving the community.

"I think it's wonderful I was selected but many more work just as much as I do," Mrs. Sitzes said. "There are so many excellent volunteers."

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