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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
December 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Opinion
by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
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Honoring the Spirit of Giving in the Reno Community 

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

This holiday season, thousands of Nevadans across the Silver State will donate food, gifts, time and talent to help those in need. Thousands more will show up for work at jobs dedicated to providing health care to sick Nevadans, educating our youth and keeping our communities safe. As we celebrate the spirit of giving this winter, I want to recognize some of the outstanding work Northern Nevadans are doing every day to make our communities stronger and supporting those in need.

One of Reno’s most beloved community heroes is Evelyn Mount. For over 41 years, Evelyn has provided Reno residents and families in need with the comfort of a holiday meal. Born in a small town in Louisiana, Evelyn’s family instilled in her the values of sacrifice and service at a young age. In 1976, Evelyn moved to Reno with her husband Leon. While working as a telephone operator at the airport, Evelyn started collecting food donations in her spare time. That first year, she collected more than 200 bags of food to distribute amongst members of the Northern Nevada community. Now, her annual food drives are a Reno holiday staple, feeding over 10,000 residents each year, and an outreach center bearing her name works year round to provide food for senior citizens across the city. Unfortunately, this year marks the end of an era in philanthropic leadership in Reno, as Evelyn intends to step away from her work organizing her annual food drive to enjoy some well earned rest and respite.

Earlier this year, I also had the opportunity to tour the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, another organization dedicated to assisting Nevada families with food donations, literacy education and workforce development programs. I was so inspired by the Reno community members I met with and the work they do each day to serve the more than 95,000 Nevadans that come through their doors each month. It also reminded me of the importance of fighting for resources that support food banks and food services, and working to ensure that vital programs like the Supplemental Assistance for Needy Families Program (SNAP) and Meals on Wheels are fully funded.

As Nevadans, we understand the importance of service. From the thousands of veterans that call Nevada home, to the countless others that volunteers to improve our community, I’m constantly moved by the innovative stories I hear about those living in the Silver State giving back. For example, in October, over 40 volunteers cleaned the grounds of the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, trimming trees and upgrading landscaping. Hundreds of volunteers also came together to pick up trash along the Truckee River as part of the annual river clean up days. In November, my alma mater, the University of Nevada, Reno hosted an adoption awareness event at Mackay Stadium. The Wolf Pack welcomed foster and adoptive families for a day of food and fun and helped celebrate a record setting year in which 202 children have been adopted in Washoe County. And since 1973, our state’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP, has been bringing together senior volunteers who are using their lifetimes of experience to provide quality, compassionate care for Nevada’s elderly population. RSVP volunteers have saved taxpayers millions in long-term care expenses and allowed thousands of seniors to live out their lives at home and with dignity. Events and programs like these make a lasting impact on those in need.

I hope those who are able find time this holiday season to join the ranks of Nevadans volunteering for worthy causes. Many studies have even shown that volunteering helps older Americans stay in shape, reduce chronic pain, and improve brain function. Throughout the state, Nevada’s seniors can play a role in setting an important example for others by sharing their knowledge, experience and compassion with their communities.

I also hope we all take time this year to offer our heartfelt thanks to those in our community who work day in and day out to better the lives of those around them. That is the true spirit of the holiday season, and one that we all can hold with us well into the New Year.