Community Service Awards:
June 17, 2007
Editor’s note: The Community Awards recognizes the people who make our communities special.
The Nevada Appeal solicited nominations for the awards during May and a panel of readers chose three finalists and the winner in each of the 12 categories. The Appeal will run short stories on those finalists from now until the awards banquet at the Carson Nugget, which will be 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 26. At the banquet, first lady Dawn Gibbons and Appeal Publisher John DiMambro will present the awards to the winner in each of the categories. For information about the banquet, or to purchase tickets, call 882-2111.
Today, we feature the finalists in the category for the Mentor of the Year Award.
As director of the Mentor Center of Western Nevada, Ruth Gordon has often nominated candidates for Mentor of the Year.
But while she may never have expected to be a finalist for the award herself, it comes as no surprise to William Bley, who volunteers at the mentor center.
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Gordon, Bley says, is “a very caring person” and takes mentoring very seriously. In particular, Bley said he was struck by Gordon’s commitment to a young girl she’s been mentoring for two years.
“She’s been available to her night and day actually, caring for her needs, caring for her changes in emotion,” he said. “She has been just like a mom to this young lady.”
Gordon, he says, is always there for the people she mentors, “even as she faces disappointments and failures” with the youths.
Gordon says she’s excited and “a little embarrassed” to be a finalist for the award. One of the most rewarding parts of her work, she says, is watching the children grow and “seeing how everybody can achieve more of who they are and impact society.”
Gordon has been director of the mentor center for six and a half years. Although she was born in Reno, she has spent most of her life in Carson City. Both of her parents were social workers, which she says influenced her career choices. Watching them, she says, she learned that it’s possible to make a difference.
“I was just raised with that. It’s really part of who I am,” she said.
Gordon is a graduate of Carson High and the University of Nevada, Reno. She worked in the church ministry for 15 years before working at the mentor center.
Her husband, David, works for Western Nevada Supply Company. She has a daughter, Bridget, 24, a son, Paul, 23, and a grandson, Kalin, 4.
Being 85 hasn’t slowed Jean Moltz a bit.
From taking classes at Western Nevada Community College to tutoring mathematics, Moltz manages to keep busier than most people half her age. She is such a fixture at local schools, in fact, that she’s known to schoolchildren as Grandma Moltz.
“She’s always looking for ways to reach every single child that she touches in my classroom,” said Jackie Geraets-Rauh, who’s known Moltz since the octanigarian began tutoring in her fourth-grade class at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School 10 years ago.
Geraets-Rauh was one of several teachers to nominate Moltz for Mentor of the Year.
“She’s just one person that I think emulates what I think the award is for,” Geraets-Rauh said. “The kids really enjoy her. They look forward to the day that Grandma Moltz comes in.”
“I just love to see children learn, it’s just so wonderful,” said Moltz. “The children are so receptive.”
She tutors mathematics and reading at several area schools, and has been doing so for 14 years. She also regularly takes courses at WNCC.
“I’m always taking classes,” she said.
The courses have ranged from mathematics to art and writing. “I just love to learn, I really do,” said Moltz. Even at college she manages to influence students. She is quick to befriend the students and encourages them to attain their degrees.
“I just think I do it just to know people, I just enjoy it,” she admitted.
Moltz is originally from Virginia and served in the U.S. Women’s Army Corp during World War II. She is the widow of Charles Moltz, who was also in the Army. Moltz moved to Carson City 22 years ago.
Her son, Charles, and daughter-in-law, Beverly, live in Carson City. Her grandson, Michael, is a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Losing his voice box to throat cancer hasn’t stopped Lee Radtke from making his voice heard.
Radtke was diagnosed more than a year ago with throat cancer, despite having never smoked a day in his life. The cause was likely exposure to second-hand smoke – the hazard of marathon board meetings in the telecommunications industry when smoking at work was still the norm.
Radtke retired to Carson City in 2006 from a career in communications that sent him around the world. He is an active volunteer with Telephone Pioneers, helping children from low-income families. Radtke also donates food and blankets to homeless and underprivileged youth.
After doctors removed his larynx to rid him of cancer, friends and family worried Radtke’s volunteerism would come to an end – instead it was just the beginning.
“I’m talking to the kids about second-hand smoke and their right not to let somebody smoke around them,” said Radtke, who has learned to speak again with the help of a digital voice box.
“It’s been very, very rewarding to me,” said Radtke, who proudly says he’s been invited by schools to continue his presentations. Many children, he says, have promised him never to smoke. Others have convinced family members to quit.
“I think we are making a difference,” he said. “If we could keep one kid from smoking it would all be worthwhile.”
Radtke was nominated for the Mentor of the Year award by Kris Wells of AT&T and his son, Todd Radtke.
“I think he’s an inspiration,” said Wells.
“We thought he’d never talk again,” said Todd Radtke. “He bounced back so strongly and set an example that I wish everybody could feel.”
Lee Radtke is assisted in his volunteer work by his wife, MaryEllen. They have another son, Don, who also lives in Carson City.