Rutland man wins new ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award

Article published Nov 27, 2014
Rutland man wins new ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award
By Bryanna Allen
Bobby Poquette gives blood precisely every 56 days, the amount of time between donations required by the American Red Cross. 

Poquette also spends more than 100 hours a year volunteering for the Red Cross and the Gift of Life Marathon. 

Wednesday morning, Poquette was given an award to acknowledge his dedication to the cause. 

Steve Costello, vice president of Green Mountain Power, presented Poquette with the Volunteer of the Year award during a surprise radio interview.

“He has put in so many hours over the years,” Costello said, one of the organizers of the marathon. “He is one of the unsung heroes in this community.”

Poquette walks all around the Rutland area this time of year, hanging up posters to spread the word about the annual Rutland blood drive. He covers serious miles around the city, making sure schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations are well informed about the event.

“If you see posters showcasing the drive in the area, it’s a pretty safe bet that Bobby was the one putting them up,” Costello said. 

Costello said through the years, he has seen Poquette spend more than 12 hours at every Gift of Life blood drive. 

“He gets there very early in the morning to help with the setup and leaves around 11 at night. It’s truly dedication,” he said.

Poquette doesn’t volunteer just with the Red Cross and blood drives, but with other organizations as well, such as United Way of Rutland County. 

This is the first year that an award has been issued. David Wolk, president of Castleton State College, was one of the small group of community members behind the creation of the award, and the group wants to make the award an annual event. Wolk said the award was designed to recognize people in the community who play a role in the success of GOLM. 

“This is an entire community working together to make this blood drive a success, and there are dozens of people in the community who do extraordinary things,” Wolk said. “Bobby is one of them — quietly devoting hundreds of hours to the event, always with a smile and a what-else-can-I-do attitude.” 

That smile was what lit up Poquette’s face when Costello handed him the award, a golden star mounted on a black base. 

“I was mostly really surprised,” Poquette said of the award. 

He is having trouble deciding if it should be displayed on a shelf in his living room or bedroom. 

“I love to help out. It just makes me feel good,” he said simply. 

Traditionally, the GOLM is held on one very long day. 

This year, it will run throughout 12 days at different venues in Rutland County, culminating at the Paramount Theatre. 

And Poquette plans to be there for as much of it as he possibly can. 

“If I know Bobby, he will be there right until the end,” Costello said. 

Poquette helps set up and take down chairs. He helps Red Cross officials move equipment where it is needed. 

But mostly, Poquette’s talent shines through in getting a large number of people to donate, and to feel comfortable while donating.

He can tell when someone is almost done donating, and he makes sure the next person in line is ready to go, according to Costello. 

“With this, time is everything. The more people who donate, the more lives are saved. Bobby knows that and has a system,” Costello said. “And he does it all with an amazing attitude and energy.”