GOOD NEWS: Odessa volunteer receives national award

The Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF) has named Vona Palmer as the recipient of the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award. This award was presented at RHF’s 2023 Annual Dinner in Long Beach, CA in February, though Vona was unable to attend.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vona delivered meals for Jesus House Odessa and, when deliveries were no longer needed, she started cooking and serving lunches to the homeless, elderly, and others in need. This past year, Vona began cooking warm meals for RHF’s Desert Haven residents once a month. “They love the meals and I love the interaction with them. I love being able to help them with little things they need. ‘Serving like Jesus’ has made my heart full,” Vona said.

In her 3 years of volunteering at Desert Haven, Vona has touched the hearts of many of its residents and staff. “She is very proactive in helping serve or guiding others in spiritual needs. She always puts residents before herself. She has a great attitude and finds ways to fix a negative into a positive. As a manager, I know if I need help with any issues she will find one way or another to volunteer,” said Chad Waite, Manager of Desert Haven.

Vona’s generosity was also recently highlighted on CBS7’s December “Be Excellent” segment.

The “Volunteer of the Year” award is given to an individual, group of individuals, or organization that provides extraordinary service on a volunteer basis to an RHF community.

Founded in 1961, RHF is a national non-profit organization with a mission to provide a range of housing options and services for older adults, low-income families, and persons with disabilities. RHF is affiliated with the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ and LeadingAge and its state affiliates, and also co-sponsors housing development with other varied denominational and community organizations. RHF sponsors and manages 192 communities in 29 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. More than 20,000 people call an RHF community “home.”