Each year the Cody Medical Foundation recognizes volunteers in our community for their outstanding service. Congratulations to the 2019 honorees:  Ken Markert, Lelani “Lani” Snyder, and Rita Stephens Overfield!

Ken Markert

Cody’s can-do attitude, working together makes the community a better place

“What’s not to like about the land of high altitude and low multitude? Small town living, open spaces, a clean environment, and outdoor recreation are all things about this community that my family cherishes”, says Ken Markert.

Markert grew up outside of Buffalo, New York. He, his wife Lynn, and their 18-month old daughter Laurel moved to Cody in 1996 to begin working as the Park County Planner. Their son Neil was born in 2002. In 2004, he started, MMI Planning his consulting firm.

Markert’s service to our community notably includes the School District’s Resource Complaint Committee, the Cody City Planning Commission and professional boards related to city planning. Since 1997 he has been a member of the Cody Rotary Club. The only active member to have held all the Club offices: President, Treasurer, Secretary, Board Director, and Show Director.

Says Howard Thompson, a fellow Rotarian,” Ken has been very active in Rotary. He is a lovely guy, with a great sense of humor who always does what he says he’ll do and then does more.”

In 2011, Markert was elected to the Park County Animal Shelter Board and currently serves as President.  He is leading the shelter’s seven-year Capital Campaign to improve the current facilities and better address the shelter’s growing needs. Notes Markert, “There is a huge demand for the shelter from people who find animals or have to give up their animals. 95% of all the shelter animals find a new home. It’s not just about the animals. It’s about the people connected to the animals. We’re the only animal shelter that serves Park County and Cody except for Powell who has a shelter within city limits.” The new shelter will open in late 2020.

Lelani Snyder, Steering Committee member on the Capital Campaign, contributes, “Ken’s solely responsible for getting a reconciliation to the land acquisition. As a forward thinker, he’s excellent at presenting the problems and solutions of the shelter to the community. Cody and the shelter are fortunate to have him”.

What inspires Markert? “Cody’s can-do attitude, a belief that working together makes the community an even better place. One time when I was particularly tired of community service, I opened a fortune cookie that said, “Every burden is a blessing.” That settled it,” remembers Markert.

“The achievements that might be attributed to me are the achievements of the teams on which I have served. The 1998 County Land Use Plan, the 2000 County Zoning Regulations, planning for the new Law Enforcement Center, the 50th Rotary Show, the revival of the Park County Animal Shelter, and construction of a new animal shelter”, relates Markert. He feels a sense of obligation to the community and the state that are so good to him and his family.

To donate or learn more about the Park County Animal Shelter, go to www. parkcountyanimalshelter.org.

Lelani “Lani” Snyder

Her heart is in the right place; she genuinely cares about Cody

A Cody native, Lelani Snyder spent most of her youth here except for a few years in the Panama Canal Zone. After graduation from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Finance, she spent several years working in the fashion industry in New York City. When her father offered her job with him in the oil industry, she returned to Cody, later marrying Joe Maniscalco.

Says Snyder, “Everything I’ve worked on has meant a lot to me. I strongly believe in the causes of the projects in which I’ve volunteered.  My husband and I don’t have any children to raise, so I feel I have more time to give than others.”

Snyder began her thirty-year plus history of community service with Relay for Life as the Accounting and Food Chairs. At the Northwest Family Planning Crab Crack, she served as the Auction Chair. For the Republican Women, Park County Nordic Ski Association and Chapter AO PEO Snyder volunteered as Treasurer. Then working with the Western Design Conference and Cody High Style Fashion Show she was Co-Chair with KT Roes and Jeannie Price.

Adds Price, “Lani is persevering, ready to accept a challenge, task and goal oriented and possesses mental steel that will not accept failure.  A task, no matter how small or large, will always be brought to fruition. Moreover, she has a great sense of humor, which always makes the job more enjoyable. I’ve seen Lani help many people on a personal level.  Her heart is in the right place. She genuinely cares about the community.”

As one of the original Cody Medical Foundation Vital Signs Committee members, she helped fundraise for Rolling Meals, Spirit Mountain Hospice, and modernizing the Price Cancer Treatment Center’s facilities and interior. Notes Snyder, “The refurbishment was a special interest project for me because of my mother’s experience receiving treatment in the old center.”

Snyder is currently on the Park County Animal Shelter Steering Committee helping spearhead their Capital Campaign. Says Snyder, “Your support of this campaign will make a life-changing difference to the animals in our care both now and in the future. This project provides Cody and Park County with a modern and efficient facility to meet current and future animal sheltering requirements.”

Ken Markert, President of the Park County Animal Shelter board, shares, “One thing about Lani, is that she’s always positive. She’s also very good with numbers, a savant. She sees things others may have missed.”

Why does Snyder volunteer? “I’ve met many fantastic people along my journey. I’m thankful to have been a part of numerous events and clubs that provide for the greater good of Cody”, answers Snyder.

To donate or learn more about the Park County Animal Shelter, go to www. parkcountyanimalshelter.org.

Rita Stephens Overfield

Rita cares, we’re blessed to have her in the community, a gracious, wonderful individual

Born in Newport Arkansas, Rita Overfield, lived in Michigan before moving to Cody in 1977 with her husband, Bill. She immediately began volunteering with Rolling Meals after a friend invited her to help. “Volunteering is a way to meet people. I learned about Cody. Everybody had a story. I found it very interesting. Cody is wonderful. Folks are always ready to help,” says Overfield.

Her passion is mental health awareness. When doctors diagnosed her daughter with Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder with addiction issues, Overfield began a journey to better grasp and meet the challenges mental health presents. Explains Overfield, “It’s a long process, a series of steps that lead to greater understanding. At first, I didn’t know what we were going through. In the process, I realized lots people were struggling like us. Other people were in the same ocean trying to swim. Since my husband and I’ve been there, I can share my experiences”.

While President of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), Park County for eight years and the Vice President for four years she wrote “From the President’s Desk” for the NAMI newsletter. The post eventually transitioned to, “Mental Health Update,” a monthly column in the Enterprise about mental health awareness. “Rita’s column is personal, meaningful, straightforward, and touching which is what makes it so successful,” notes Bruce McCormack former editor of the Enterprise.

Says Overfield about her column, “I want to give readers hope. People are looking for help. My job is to point out the issue. They may not know that what’s going on in their life is a mental health issue and has a name. They’re afraid. They can find a therapist and get help.”

In a recent post, “Pets are important mental health aides,” Overfield shares her insight, “Persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a mood disorder such as bipolar or depression can benefit greatly from a service animal trained to help them through panic attacks, mania, and dangerous situations. They can be trained to ensure their owners get their medication and to help reorient their owners to reality and help alert emergency services if needed.”

Overfield is grateful to the publishers of the Enterprise, Sage Publishing, and editors of the Enterprise, Bruce McCormick, Vin Cappiello, and Amber Peabody for their vision in placing “Mental Health Update” prominently on the front page of the People section. Doing so lets the community know mental health is an important subject.

At Spirit Mountain Hospice House where Overfield volunteers, Randy Leisey, the volunteer coordinator, and spiritual counselor says it best, “Rita’s a gem of a person, a faithful volunteer. She knows what to say to people and how to make them feel comfortable. Rita cares. She knows her stuff. We’re blessed to have her in the community, a gracious, wonderful individual.”

To read more of Overfield’s columns go to www.codyenterprise.com and search for Rita Stephens Overfield. To learn more about NAMI, go to www.nami.org.

Articles and photographs by Cindy Bennett

2018 Honorees

Congratulations to the 2018 honorees:  Jan and Lee Hermann, Melanie Lovelace, and Theo Riley!

Jan and Lee Hermann

Jan and Lee Hermann have been volunteering in Cody since they first arrived in 1972 with their three sons, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Lee joined the Cody medical community as a pathologist and Jan, a trained nurse, was also a homemaker. In those first Cody days, they helped originate the Rolling Meals program through the Cody Senior Center. They’ve been driving meals every week for over 35 years. “They’re exceptionally caring and committed to helping others,” says Linda Johnson.

Jan and Lee grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and met while Jan was finishing nursing school and Lee was working to complete his Medical training. Lee already in the Air Force served 12 years of active duty and then nine years in the Reserves, achieving the rank of Colonel and retiring in1992. While at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Jan taught new parents’ classes.

Lee is an avid pilot who owns his owns plane. Recalls Kirk Waggoner “Lee and I were in Search and Rescue together for many years. He was a volunteer physician and pilot. He flew numerous missions. He’s a wonderful guy; smart, interesting and a talented.” When blood supplies ran low for Cody patients, Lee often flew to Billings to pick up emergency blood, a savings of several hours of time.

As secretary for AAUW, Jan was instrumental in the successful campaign to add kindergarten to the Cody public schools when it didn’t exist in Park County. “Jan is great. She takes volunteer commitments seriously. She’s proactive, weighs ideas carefully, is dependable and there when you need her,” notes Harriet Bloom-Wilson.

When their boys were younger, Jan became a Cub Scout leader, and Lee a former Eagle Scout, was a Scoutmaster. He often made preview flights over the destination routes the scouts were to hike or canoe later such as Eagle Creek Meadow and the Big Horn River.

Some of the other many volunteer positions Jan has held are; President of the Wyoming Medical Society, founding member and board member of Northwest Family Planning, board member for Habitat for Humanity, board member for Northwest Wyoming Film Series and Advisory board member of Wyoming Rising. She was a Presbyterian Church Session member, a volunteer for Crisis Intervention Services (CIS) and volunteers with the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.

Lee’s many years of community service includes President of the Wyoming Society of Pathologists, President of the Wyoming Medical Society, President and Trustee of Northwest Community College, board member of Northwest Community College Foundation, board member of Yellowstone Regional Airport, Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and Member of the Cody Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, he was awarded the A.H. Robbins Community Service award and was the Wyoming Physician of the Year.

Lee is also a painter and photographer. Together they’ve taken many trips with Northwest Community College to such places as France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru.

Why do Jan and Lee volunteer? Says Jan, “ When you work with people, you share similar kinds interests and passions about what you’re doing. What you’re working for is helping others. It gives you a community context you might not have otherwise. It’s gratifying. Rolling Meals, CIS and the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program are great places to volunteer in Cody”. Adds Lee, “Volunteering, it’s the thing to do. It makes you feel good. I think I’m supposed to help people. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

Melanie Lovelace

Since moving to Cody in 1987, Melanie Lovelace has devoted herself to community service. “When Mel puts her heart to a project she is a force of nature. She brings ideas, energy, and teamwork. She commits and will never let you down. She’s the first there and the last to leave”, says Graham Jackson former Cody Regional Health Foundation Director.

melanie-lovelace_cody-medical-foundation-honoreeBorn in Fort Worth and raised in Texas, Lovelace’s family moved to Minnesota where she graduated from high school. She studied Interior Design at the University of Denver. After moving to Maryland, she met her husband, Pete Lovelace, on the Eastern Shore when a mutual friend introduced them. They soon moved to the EJ ranch on the Southfork, subsequently moving closer to town. “Cody is such a great community, with a fabulous museum, hospital, rec center and 300 days of sunshine a year,” says Lovelace

Lovelace, the current Cody Regional Health Foundation Chair began working with the formerly West Park Hospital Foundation in 2011. Some of the many hospital campaigns she has contributed to are; the West Park Hospital Spirit Mountain Hospice House, Barn Dances, Baker Community Rooms, the Big Horn Basin Cancer Treatment Center, the cardiac and pediatric units and Where the Buffalo Roam.

Says Lovelace. “With the Cody Regional Health Foundation, it has been very gratifying to raise money. When we moved to Cody in 1987, there were 12 doctors in town. Now we have close to 60. The hospital has doubled in size and treatment areas. You no longer have to go to Billings for your healthcare. I’m humbled to have played a part”. Affirms Jackson, “Melanie is the spirit of volunteerism, unparalleled. You can always count on her. She walks the talk and is a ton of fun”.

Theo Riley

Theo Riley is dedicated to the mental health well being of her community. “Her deep desire to provide mental health services is unheard of the world of mental health. Her volunteer efforts are second to none in the entire region. She has a critical interest to promote and support mental health for emergency responders and hospital staff alike,” relates Linda Waggoner.

In 1959, as a junior in High School, she moved to Laramie when her father Bill Strannigan, a Rock Springs native, became the University of Wyoming’s Basketball coach. After graduating from the University of Wyoming with English and Speech degrees, Riley moved to Cody to teach tenth grade English. theo-strannigan-riley_cody-medical-foundation-honoree Notes Riley, “My first class of students is having their fiftieth reunion this year, the class of 1968.  It was my first year teaching.  I’m now more a part of the class than I ever was separate. We’re friends, but they did play a lot of pranks on me that first year.”

Waggoner recalls, “I met Theo in the mid-eighties when I was teaching a CISM class at the Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas. At first, like many psychologists, she wasn’t sure how the training for emergency responders differed from her training as a psychologist or if it was even necessary. As an attentive student, she quickly saw the value of the adjunct training. It was necessary because it could provide adequate assistance for emergency responders. Many psychologists don’t understand that. CISM isn’t therapy. It has a specific, significant therapeutic value for emergency responders. Her volunteer offerings beneficially promote mental health throughout the community.”

Riley is a member of the CISM foundation and a CISM introductory trainer. She is a board member and past president of the Wyoming Psychological Association, and a board member of the Wyoming Board of Psychology, the Children’s Resource Center and the Heart Mountain Free Clinic. She is on the Buffalo Bill Art Show committee and teaches Ministering to Others, at the LDS church to name some of her volunteer activities.

Thinking she would retire, Riley found a continuing need for psychological services in Cody and is currently working with the Park County School District and Wyoming Workforce Services. She has two children, Bart and Matt, and is married to Mike Riley a retired High School teacher.

“I’ve met wonderful first responders. Volunteering gives a purpose across a lifespan. It helps us be resilient, take the knocks of life, make social connections and create a routine. I’ve learned a lot by being affiliated with different groups of people. I’ve learned to take the other person’s perspective. I’ve always felt fortunate to have my education. I like sharing it”, notes Riley.

Images and articles by Cindy Bennett

Click here to view the 2016 honorees