On Thursday, March 19, at the Salvation Army’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner, Jeanne Salerno was introduced as the first annual Volunteer of the Year. Salerno received a lovely bouquet and a plaque along with a standing ovation from the over 100 attendees at the dinner, most of whom have been touched by her in one way or another according to her son and long-time Exchange Club volunteer Paul Benedict.
Salerno’s name will forever be the first on a new plaque that is slated to hang in the Mesquite Family Services Center which will honor her and the future Volunteers of the Year.
Salerno is 88 years old and Benedict says she still volunteers as much time as she is able at the Mesquite Family Services Center where she greets clients and visitors, answers phones, files (she says she loves filing) and contacts the recipients of the Senior Food Program to remind them to come and pick up their food.
Benedict said, “Although her vision is compromised and her mobility is limited, her heart is strong and loving, and she has friends all over Mesquite”.
This is the second time Salerno has received the honor of Volunteer of the Year. She first received the honor in the late 90’s when she was a volunteer for an organization in upstate New York called PEACE.
Peace volunteers help people realize their potential for becoming self-reliant and self-sufficient. According to their website “PEACE, Inc. is Onondaga County’s federally designated Community Action Agency. As part of the national network of Community Action Agencies, PEACE, Inc. seeks to help people become more self-sufficient by strengthening families, improving the conditions in which people live, encouraging people to own a stake in their own community, and developing partnerships with other organizations, businesses, and individuals to support these efforts.”
Salerno not only practices what she preaches, she taught her children to give back to the community as well. Salerno’s son Paul and daughter-in-law Barb Benedict volunteer many hours for the veterans and for the Exchange Club. Paul has been a long time member of the Virgin Valley Theatre Group and has performed in many shows here in the Mesquite. The whole family is dedicated to enriching the lives of others.
Salerno lives a quiet life in the company of a very large, very spoiled black cat named Onyx. She has many friends and neighbors who think the world of her and she never has a negative word for anybody. Always willing to give a smile and lend a hand, Salerno says she can’t volunteer as much as she used to but if she couldn’t volunteer at all it would drive her crazy. Some of the people who’s lives Salerno touches on a weekly basis say, “she’s got no worries there, as much as she does for everyone, she’ll be sane forever”.