Many causes to embrace for Vomaske

Linda Vomaske is a champion hugger. Her hugs have encircled three girls to whom she was a “big sister” and a mentor. They’ve embraced Guatemalans she has served on mission trips with her church. Through her efforts to increase literacy with her Rotary Club, Vomaske’s figurative hugs have given countless children access to books they might not have otherwise received.

That’s a lot of hugging.

Vomkaske, 60, has been named a Woman of Distinction 2013 for her volunteer work. It started 35 years ago in her home state of California. That was when she was paired with four-year-old Kim through her church’s youth program. She and Kim became fast friends and continue to maintain their relationship today.

When she and her husband, Bob, moved to Seattle Vomaske found Tiffany, a new “little sister” with the help of that state’s Big Sisters organization. Tiffany, who was 10 at the time, is now a grown woman with a daughter of her own. She still comes to Vomaske for advice and friendship and yes, when they visit, for hugs.

After moving to Fort Collins, Vomaske found Partners Mentoring Youth and became a Senior Partner for an at-risk teenage girl, struggling to cope with a difficult and troubling family life. M was in foster care after being thrown out of her biological mother’s house, and had spent time in jail.

“Even though there were a lot of obstacles to our relationship, I still found a way to see her and to let her know that I was still there,´ said Vomaske. “That no matter what she was going through, I wasn’t going to judge her and I would help her in any way that I could.” An example of that help came in the form of a heartbreaking conversation when M revealed suicidal ideations. The young woman believed she was unloved and unlovable and that her existence didn’t matter. But M did matter to Vomaske and she convinced the teen to seek other solutions. M aged out of the system and moved to Colorado Springs. Her contact with Vomaske is sporadic, but she knows Vomaske is just a phone call away if she needs her.

These days, Vomaske is president of her Rotary Club and her lens is focused on the group’s literacy initiatives. She is active in fundraising efforts to help purchase dictionaries for all third graders in the Poudre School District and to bring authors to grade schools so that students can meet real writers and ask them about their work.

On top of all this, Vomaske has served on the Missions and Outreach Advisory Board at Timberline Church since 2001. She and Bob have led medical teams of physicians, dentists, opticians and sometimes audiologists on international missions for the past eight years. She’s been to Vietnam, China, Peru and her favorite—Guatemala. She and Bob dream of retiring there one day.

For Vomaske, what she gives as a volunteer is returned tenfold: “I’ve found that when you give to others, you receive in ways that you never expect. That’s the joy I’ve found in volunteering.”

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