The Wilma Rayta Volunteer of the Year Award is given each year in memory of longtime COTS supporter, Wilma Rayta. Wilma is the only person in COTS history to be honored twice with the Volunteer of the Year award for unquestioning commitment and hard work.
This honor is one of the most difficult to decide because we have so many generous and dedicated volunteers who make it possible for COTS to help so many people. We have tutors; we have book buddies; we have gardeners; we have painters and cleaners; we have speaker’s bureau members and events’ crews – and many more.
Each year, as we try to narrow the list of amazing volunteers to the volunteer of the year, we ask staff for suggestions. This year, multiple people, from different parts of COTS, all nominated the same person – and they all did so with the caveat that they “were too close” to this particular volunteer to be objective. That’s what struck us! We all knew that Bill Talentino helped us, individually, but we hadn’t realized we were sharing Bill with so many others within COTS. We, of course, knew we shared him with our nonprofit partner, ReSOURCE, but did not fully appreciate just how giving Bill has been to our entire organization.
That made the decision easy.
Bill is a regular front-desk volunteer, greeting visitors seeking support and those who come in to offer their assistance. Our program staff can’t say enough about Bill’s warmth and kindness as he welcomes people into our reception area or schedules appointments for services.
Bill also is a constant calm – and friendly – face at all COTS events: night after night at the Phonathon, or being run ragged at the Walk, or stepping in at the last minute to volunteer at a COTS table that Saturday.
And, he’s been known to have moved every single one of those 30,000 diapers – when we decide they need to go to a different space, even after we swore wouldn’t move them this year.
He does it all, with a generous heart and bright spirit. And, he made each of us feel like that we were the most special part of COTS that he helped. So, today, we would like Bill to know just how special we know he is.
Bill Talentino (left) received the Wilma Rayta Volunteer of the Year award, presented by COTS Housing Resource Center Coordinator Jonathan Farrell.