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By Karen Hatfield
Special to The SUN
Archuleta County Victim Assistance has been the recipient of a very special person’s dedication and devotion for almost 16 years.
Now, that person, Patty Tillerson, has been awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which requires over 4,000 hours of service.
Tillerson has surpassed that requirement many times over, signing up to take on-call at least 200 hours a month, many times on holidays so that staff could have time with their families.
“Patty was one of our first volunteers. I remember so clearly the day she came to be interviewed — I knew she was exactly what we needed. Her level of dedication and the countless hours she gave is something to be honored and recognized. She’s simply an amazing lady!” said Carmen Hubbs, ACVAP director.
In addition to her duties as an ACVAP advocate responding 24 hours a day to domestic violence and sexual assault calls, Tillerson has involved herself with families that needed her help with difficult life circumstances.
Tillerson has provided rides and support, and served as a friend and surrogate mother to help those lucky enough to know her.
She always has a can-do attitude and never lets barriers stand in her way of helping to solve others’ problems. She has also been present to offer support to families experiencing the trauma of sudden death and the intensity of grieving. The ripple effect of Tillerson’s kindness extends far beyond this community, as she has helped numerous tourists who found themselves in desperate circumstances.
Her warmth and compassion often turned a frightening experience into a newfound friendship.
Tillerson does not need to have an organization behind her to be of service. To lend support and to come alongside her neighbors is second nature to her. Her career has reflected her desire to make life better for those she encounters.
Tillerson retired from Baylor College of Medicine and became an EMT. She then served as an active member of the ambulance crew for 12 years, was a health district board member, volunteer teacher’s aide at the elementary school, worked with Kiwanis benefiting local youth, and has offered free blood pressure checks and smiles at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center for many years. Her unofficial outreach to “lend a helping hand,” as she puts it, cannot be counted.
This is not Tillerson’s first award.
Tillerson, while an advocate for Archuleta County Victim Assistance, received the Carol Hacker Award for Outstanding Victim Advocate in 2005. This award is presented by COVA, the state organization of victim service providers and honors those advocates who have made service a statement of their lives.
This award was tailored for Tillerson.
The award was developed for Carol Hacker honoring the work she provided to Columbine and Oklahoma City bombing survivors. The award asked that the recipient be remarkable, dedicated and committed to doing good things for people. The perfect complement to celebrating Tillerson, so much more than a volunteer!
While Tillerson has closed the chapter of crisis response, except to those families who need the practical advice and stabilization a sudden death demands, she will now be recognized on a national level and continue be an example and role model of how to be a friend, advocate and supporter for those who she encounters.