Do-it-all volunteer wins 2004 award

When someone was needed to spend a little extra time to secure a license to hold a raffle for Rotary Club's Diamonds and Spurs event, Samantha Johnston's hand shot up.

"She just said, 'I'll do it,' and jumped right in," said fellow Rotarian Rich Foster. "She could have said my plate's full, because obviously it is."

It's because Johnston keeps busy with a number of community projects that she earned the United Way's 2004 Volunteer of the Year award. Members of Advocates-Crises Support Services nominated Johnston for the award. She's worked with the program for the past three years.

She was chosen from about a dozen applicants, Moffat County United Way director Corrie Scott said.

The time of day doesn't matter, said Advocates' Betty Hodson. Johnston, publisher of the Craig Daily Press for the past three years, always is willing to help out, she said.

Recently, that meant talking a victim through a tragic event during phone calls that lasted throughout the night, Hodson said.

She also has been known to let people stay at her home so they can attend a funeral of a family member who has committed suicide.

"She'll always find a way to help," Hodson said.

"She finds resources for people."

Johnston is president-elect for the Craig Rotary Club and has been with service group for the past three years. She was an adult mentor from 2002 to 2004 with Moffat County Partners. She serves on four local boards -- the Moffat County United Way, Crime Stoppers, Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership and the Moffat County Tourism Authority. Johnston started in January as a rookie firefighter for Craig Fire/Rescue. She is a stock-car driver and has been working toward a master's degree in business administration from Regis University.

Johnston, 29, said she volunteers because she has the time and wants to fill a need in Craig.

"There's nothing about volunteering that's extraordinary," she said.

"It seems like I have time and the community has the need so there's no reason I shouldn't."

Johnston grew up in Steamboat Springs and double-majored in biology and journalism at Colorado State University at Fort Collins.

Her parents, Susan and Kelly Johnston, appeared with about 20 people for a surprise ceremony for Johnston on Thursday at the Daily Press office.

Mayor Don Jones described Johnston as "energetic" and "a great asset to the community."

"If we had more Sams, the city and county would be better," he said.

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