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Decades of service nets Karen Steele Volunteer of the Year award

Following decades of involvement with local nonprofit organizations such as Broomfield FISH, earlier this month Karen Steele received Volunteer of the Year honors from Congressman Joe Neguse.
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Celebrating Volunteer of the Year honors, from left, Broomfield Mayor Guyleen Castriotta, Congressman Joe Neguse, Karen Steele and Pete Dunlaevy from Open Space and Trails.

Following decades of involvement with local nonprofit organizations such as Broomfield FISH, earlier this month Karen Steele received Volunteer of the Year honors from Congressman Joe Neguse.

“I have been volunteering with FISH for 25 years,” Steele said. “I’ve served in every capacity including executive director and truck driver.”

Steele was nominated for the award by Broomfield Director of Open Space and Trails Kristan Pritz. 

“She and I have done a ton of collaboration over the years and she also knows about my other volunteer work,” Steele explained.

Besides FISH and the Broomfield Open Space Foundation, Steele has also dedicated time to support Broomfield Nature Programs and the Broomfield Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD

“It is something that I became involved with when Broomfield became a city and county,” she said. 

Steele said after the 9/11 tragedy Broomfield hired an emergency manager who VOAD coordinated with during the COVID pandemic and following the Marshall fire last December.

“With my food connection with FISH we started some food closets in the police station and out in the recreation centers,” she said.

Over the past two decades VOAD membership has evolved to include churches and civic groups, Steele explained.

“Instead of loose cannons out there wanting to volunteer when something happens, with VOAD I get that call and the city says, ‘This is what we need,’” she said.

VOAD member groups include Broomfield FISH, A Precious Child, the Broomfield Community Foundation, the Refuge and Discovery Church.

“We all have come together to coordinate disaster responses,” she said.

Even after decades of serving, Steele isn’t finished nor is she slowing down. FISH will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2023 and Steel is currently in planning mode.

“Right now I got a committee together and we're planning a big 60 anniversary party,” she said. “For a nonprofit that’s not a common occurrence.”

In her letter of nomination, Pritz noted Steele’s ability to build a positive team spirit.

“Her heartfelt concern for Broomfield instills a desire in other volunteers to give their best,” Pritz wrote.

For her part, Steele said the award was wholly unexpected. 

“I’m very humbled and honored that our city would think of me and Kristan would nominate me for this,” she said.