Judy Harris of Dayton has spent her life working with people, both young and old.
She taught economics, government and history for 32 years at San Fernando High School in Los Angeles. Upon retirement in 2001, she and her husband moved to Dayton, where she began helping seniors as a volunteer with Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA.
"I thought if I could do something with my retirement years that would make me feel good and would help people, then I wanted to do it," she said. "I committed originally for one year, and now it's been three years."
Harris' commitment to helping others has not gone unnoticed. Harris is one of three finalists for the Governor's Points of Light Award, presented by the Nevada Commission on National and Community Service to outstanding volunteers from the Reno and Las Vegas areas and the state's rural areas. Harris was nominated by Cordy Athena, director of the home companion program at RSVP.
Gov. Kenny Guinn will present the awards during a dinner ceremony Oct. 20 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno.
Harris has spent one year with the service-learning program in Lyon County and more than two years in the RSVP program.
Harris drives seniors to medical appointments, attends county events to promote services offered by the Nevada Rural Counties RSVP and collaborates with Lyon County Social Services.
"There's a tremendous need out here to make sure people get quality care and quality services, and it makes me feel good when we can provide it," she said.
Harris and RSVP has been working with other service groups to provide for Lyon County seniors, which she believes is vital to the programs' success.
"Coordination between services that are out here is essential," she said. "We really need to talk to each other, and we've been doing that quite a bit."
Her most satisfying projects, Harris said, are the Adopt-a-Senior and the LifeLine programs. LifeLines are communications devices for the elderly for when they can't get to a telephone, and Harris said she enjoys getting them to people who can't afford them.
Harris said transportation is a huge issue for her clients.
"One of the major things we do is transport seniors to medical appointments and shopping," she said. "We sure do need public transportation out here."
Her husband, Randy, is a conductor with the V&T Railroad in Virginia City, and her son, Evan, attends the University of Phoenix in Reno.
Harris doesn't know what the future holds, but plans to continue serving the community in some fashion.
"There's a certain amount of time you can be a VISTA volunteer," she said. "I would like to continue to be a volunteer for RSVP."
She is licensed to teach in Nevada and California, and may return to that profession in some capacity, she said.
"I have done some substitute teaching in Lyon County," she said. "I was the adult-education teacher in Dayton, but that program was dropped."
One thing is for sure: although Harris loves needlepoint and cross-stitch, she won't be staying home a lot.
"I'll be doing something," she said. "I can't just sit at home."
n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.
If you go
WHAT: Governor's Points of Light Awards Ceremony
WHEN: 7 p.m. Oct. 20
WHERE: Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Reno
CALL: (888) 338-9759. Tickets may also be reserved at americorpsnevada.org