By Garrett Estrada

Ely Times Staff Writer

Volunteers in organizations from all around the community were recognized on April 5 as part of Volunteer Appreciation Day at a special dinner in the Bristlecone Convention Center.  Now in its eighth year, the exclusive invite-only dinner is held specifically for volunteers and organizations that donate their time and efforts to make Ely a better place.

Member of the White Pine County Tour and Recreation Board and employee for Bristlecone Ed Speer said that it is events like this that show volunteers how much they mean to the community.

“The cornerstone of any small community is the volunteer,” Speer said. He added that many events around town would not be possible with the board’s limited funds without the help of volunteers.

Though he said he wishes the city could do more to show their appreciation and support of the local volunteers, the annual dinner has became the place to honor those that make Ely a better place while also serving as a potential catalyst to inspire more people who want to attend to become volunteers.

So far it seems to be working according to Speer, who noted that attendance rose by 30 people this year, as well as saw the addition of previously unaffiliated volunteer organizations such as the Pink Ladies. Speer’s goal is to have the event drum up word of mouth about the benefits of being a volunteer and spur more community involvement, and thus, higher attendance.

“I want to see this placed packed,” Speer said of the convention center. “If this place can hold 350, I want to o see 350 people in here.”

The steak dinner, catered by Margarita’s restaurant, also included raffle prizes and gift bags for every person in attendance. The meal capped off a day that actually began at the Nevada Northern Railway.

Fellow Tour and Rec board member Meg Rhoades worked with Speer and Wayne Cameron from the Chamber of Commerce to serve free hot dog and chip lunches during a free train ride that allowed volunteer organization to set up information booths to try and attract new members. Of those organizations that were set up along the train were the Ely Lion’s Club and Relay for Life.