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Photo submitted Gary Dickerson, left, and Joseph Gavel.

Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Gary Dickerson, right, and Joseph Gavel, left, volunteer in the Masonic Temple's soup kitchen Wednesday.

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Statewide recognition for two local volunteers

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - Updated: 10:18 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

For two city residents, years of volunteering have not gone unnoticed.

Gary Dickerson, 72, and Joseph Gavel, 84, were honored earlier this month during a ceremony at The Empire State Performing Arts Center in Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, State Sen. Cecilia Tyaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort were among the politicians who presented Dickerson and Gavel with letters of appreciation and plaques for their hard work.

However, for Dickerson and Gavel, the ceremony was not necessary.

"When I first caught wind of this volunteer ceremony I said, if you've got any ideas of nominating me you'd better forget about it," Dickerson said. "They said 'You're not into that stuff?' and I said, 'No, we do what we do because we want to do it.' It's not for notoriety."

Gavel agreed.

"No publicity, we just do it to help out," he said.

The two men were nominated by Montgomery County's Office for Aging for their volunteerism. They received a letter in April inviting them to the ceremony and a lunch in Albany.

The ceremony recognized the exceptional volunteerism of seniors in New York state. Two seniors from each county were nominated, so Dickerson and Gavel represented Montgomery County.

"It's a big honor, out of all the hard-working volunteers in this county, and we were chosen, It feels nice," Gavel said.

Gavel has been volunteering at Faith Soup Kitchen with Dickerson since it opened in the summer of 2009.

He's the grocery shopper for the soup kitchen; he looks through fliers and coupons every week to get the best deals for the kitchen's limited budget. He goes to Panera Bread "past [his] bedtime" to pick up the left over bread the restaurant gives away so the next day's meal will be complete.

With Gavel's dedication, he purchases everything needed at the grocery store for $500 a month to serve 300 meals a day twice a week, which is about $1.66 a meal.

Along with the soup kitchen, Dickerson has helped with numerous organizations including Centro Civico Red Ribbon, Inman Senior Center, Amsterdam's Spring Fling, National Night Out, American Legion Post 701, and he's the block captain for the neighborhood watch program. He's volunteered for Hospice since 2011 and visits the county's Office for Aging regularly.

Dickerson also helps bring food to the homeless shelter and he shares fresh vegetables from his garden.

When asked why they volunteer, Dickerson and Gavel shrugged modestly.

"It keeps us out of trouble," Gavel joked.

"We're retired. What better things do we have to do besides sit on the couch and watch TV?" Dickerson countered.

The two men know their help makes an impact on the community, however.

"We go to the soup kitchen early because we know if we don't get things started, there will be a line out the door down to the road," Dickerson said.

"It proves the people in this city need the extra help and we're willing to give it to them," Gavel said.

     

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