By KRIS REILLY
The Lucerne Valley Roadrunners handed out their annual community awards in front of a packed house at the Senior Center on Saturday night.
Robert “Bear” Ziolkowski was named Citizen of the Year, Mike Reed was named Humanitarian of the Year and Jo Ann Reed was named Woman of the Year. Other nominees included Billie Stebbins for Woman of the Year and Gerry Olson for Humanitarian of the Year.
Ziolkowski’s bushy gray beard is a common sight at community events such as the Town Cleanup, the Chamber of Commerce auction or the Roadrunners’ annual Christmas giveaway.
Ziolkowski said he has lived in Lucerne Valley for 13 years and started lending a hand with charitable causes after he met Diane Holland of the Roadrunners.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” Ziolkowski joked. “I was honored (to receive the award).”
Holland presented the awards along with fellow Roadrunner Jo Richards.
“Whenever I need him for an event, he’s there,” Holland said of Ziolkowski. “He’s there for the Roadrunners, the Senior Center and the Chamber. He’s there for everybody. And we call him Bear because we can’t pronounce his name.”
Mike and Jo Ann Reed were on a family vacation outside of the state and could not attend the presentation. The married couple has lived in Lucerne Valley since 1979, and both are active with Calvary Bible Church. They aren’t involved with any other local organizations, but they’re known for helping the community in a less formal fashion.
“We’re surprised that we even got nominated for this,” Jo Ann Reed said in a phone interview. “But we are always helping our neighbors. Mike is really good at fixing things. Everybody’s always calling Mike because he’s such a handyman. ... We do it for the Lord. We feel that’s our calling.”
Donna Geiger, who accepted the awards for the Reeds, said: “They are two of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. They are always doing things for this community.”
The Roadrunners, a local women’s charitable organization, have handed out the awards annually for decades. Community members submit nomination letters, and those letters are judged by a panel of people outside of the area in an effort to ensure fairness.
Holland said the well-attended pot luck dinner also served as a token of appreciation for the community.
“There’s an awful lot of people that help the Roadrunners,” Holland said. “They see us as the vehicle to help this community. I can’t say enough about the people.”