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It's not the time--it's that you are helping people ...

In 1987, John became a volunteer driver for the DAV Transportation Network, logging thousands of miles to transport sick and disabled veterans to and from VA facilities in Colorado for needed medical care. Other volunteer efforts include 16 years assisting patients in a variety of activities at the Ft. Lyon Patients' Day; organizing and volunteering at the Homelake Summerfest for nursing home residents at the state veterans center in Homelake, Colo., Veterans Day programs at area schools; various activities at homeless veterans standdowns; and for the past eight years has been an enthusiastic volunteer and supporter of the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

"At my first winter sports clinic I helped visually impaired veterans with their equipment, escorted them through the meal lines helping with trays and getting the food acid drinks they wanted," John said. "A couple of years, I was at the pool where they were teaching SCUBA. Since I knew how to SCUBA, I volunteered to help out ... I've been doing it ever since."

To see John at the winter sports clinic is to see him at his volunteering best. The days are long and strenuous, the challenges many, and the need for assistance almost limitless. In this environment, John is in his element. He seems to start the day in high gear and higher spirits and gets stronger as the days go on. He thrives on lending a hand, is quick to ask if help is needed, and jumps in to volunteer at any opportunity.

"John is a DAV treasure and brings great credit upon himself, fellow volunteers, and the DAV," NSO Supervisor Robert Lougee said. "He is dedicated to helping his fellow veterans and their families and travels far and wide to help veterans at any event in the state of Colorado benefiting veterans and their families."

Anna Ognie, John's wife of more than 36 years, has watched her husband grow as a volunteer and believes she knows why he enjoys volunteering so much.

"When John volunteers, he really gets into it, and he has a knack for it," Anna said. "He likes to help people."

Helping people extends beyond volunteering to assist veterans. John also volunteers in a variety of community programs and services. His work as a volunteer firefighter since 1995 has resulted in numerous awards, including being named 2003 Fire Fighter of the Year for his department. Other community volunteer work includes assisting at the Stampede (rodeo events) in Elizabeth, Colo., and serving; as a volunteer escort for elderly citizens visiting the Elbert County Fair.

As a volunteer, John is acutely aware of a growing need for volunteers. Since lie started as a DAV volunteer he has noticed that most volunteers seem to be 50 or older, and he doesn't see enough younger volunteers getting involved.

"As I was growing up, my mother was a helping person and an example to me," John said. "A lot of the people I grew up with were always there to help when someone needed help. It rubbed off on me and I passed it on to my children (John and Anna have a grown son and daughter and four grandchildren).

"My children were volunteering when they were young. Children quickly learn and understand the need to help others. By getting them involved early they will continue to volunteer throughout their lives and pass the trait along."

For John Ognie, who has been named the 2003 DAV Department of Colorado Volunteer of the Year and twice nominated for the DAV George H. Seal Memorial Trophy for extraordinary volunteerism, every volunteer is important.

"Volunteers boost patients' spirits just by being there for them," lie said. "It's not the time, it's you being there that patients appreciate. Volunteers help those who really need our help, and that's something the whole country needs.

"I encourage everyone to give volunteering a try.

"When I'm talking to someone about volunteering, I ask them to come to the medical center and give me an hour."

John Ognie believes an hour of volunteering is all it will take to convince you that volunteering is as good for you as it is for the veteran, maybe better. Why not find out for yourself? It only takes an hour to start a lifetime of good.
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Title Annotation:John Ognie receives Department of Colorado Volunteer of the Year award, volunteerism
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:711
Previous Article:DAV volunteer makes a difference.
Next Article:Improvements reward volunteers of all ages.
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