ELKO — This year, the Elko Daily Free Press added a new category to the Readers’ Choice Awards: Champion of Elko County, someone who selflessly helps others. The first ever Champions of Elko are Colette Reynolds, Delmo Andreozzi and John Ellison. Although they are very different personalities, they all share a compassion for people and a love of Elko.
Colette Reynolds is many things -- a medical assistant, a Realtor, a mother, a wife -- but to most she’s a friend. Born and raised in Elko, this community means everything to her.
Karl Young, owner of Elko Realty and a friend of Reynolds for 15 years, said that she is “over the top,” a really “outstanding” person who works day and night. Her clients at Elko Realty become her friends. Not only does she find them their dream home, but she also helps them move.
Judy Boyce, Reynolds’s mother, said that she loves finding the perfect house for a client. The home that fits that person. According to Boyce, Colette is “energetic, unbiased, compassionate, thoughtful and encouraging.”
Among all of her helping out, the Stray Dog Superhero Toy Drive is close to Reynolds’ heart. She began the toy drive from her garage.
“The first year we helped 12 families,” she said. This last year the toy drive was able to help over 100 families. “As a single mother of two boys, Christmas was really hard,” she said. She has now found her dream, and she wants to give back.
“I’ve come from that place … I remember what it felt like to need something,” Reynolds said. But because of spinal surgery, “unfortunately, this elf is out of commission this year.” However, she promises to come back strong next year.
Delmo Andreozzi believes in community.
“I was just five years old when my dad had a tire blow up and hit him in the head,” Andreozzi said. “He had a massive head injury. And the community really rallied behind our family. From a very early age, I learned what community is … I have just tried to always pay that forward and give that back.”
Andreozzi began giving back in high school. Because both of Andreozzi’s parents were hearing impaired, Andreozzi’s first language was sign language, a gift that he was able to share with Elko High School. In December 1981, Andreozzi was asked by the director to do a song for his parents. He used his family’s dialect to sign for the song “Christmas Wishes.” The next year, he was asked to teach it to the rest of the choir.
Andreozzi began his career at Elko Landfill slowly moving up in the city until he became the assistant city manager. He now serves as the chairman of the Elko County Board of Commissioners.
“I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have this life that I have here,” he said. “Even though, maybe sometimes, the road hasn’t been easy, and not always straight, but I just feel very fortunate to be a part of this community. I think that if you cut me open I would bleed Elko County.”
From restoring classic cars to playing rhythm/lead to getting a bill passed in the Nevada Assembly, John Ellison is a busy man, but he is never too busy to help people.
“I love people,” Ellison said. “I really, really love people and I love to help …. Elko has given me so much. I just want to be part and give back.”
Not only does he introduce measures at the state level to help veterans or to get funding for Great Basin College, but he also helps those in need. “We try to get involved with a little bit of everything. The fire, the flood. I don’t know how many people come in to my office every day … we have an open door policy.”
Working with the John Wayne Cancer institute, he helps raise money for cancer research, even getting some of John Wayne’s family to come to events. “We worked with them for many years,” Ellison said. “The family come down, John Wayne’s family always come down …. Radio-thons and dinners, it was really something big.”
Ellison, who served in the Marine Corp, is involved with the local VFW. “You can’t do enough for these guys [veterans], I think.” When Ellison was on the Elko City Council, the VFW gave up the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. “We took it, I don’t know, 25 years ago,” Ellison said. “We built it up to what it is today.”
“Elko’s been good to us,” Ellison said. “We’ve been involved in so many things through the years. … It’s never I, it’s us. Not one person can do anything. It’s the community.”