OLI Honors Two Top Volunteers

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Operation Lifesaver, Inc., (OLI) has named Debra Ashworth, a retired Union Pacific employee, and the late Delmar Kittendorf of Marrieta, Ga., as co-winners of the F. Tom Roberts Memorial Volunteer Award, recognizing their rail safety education outreach efforts.

OLI established the award in 1994, in memory of F. Tom Roberts, “who dedicated most of his life to reducing or eliminating death and injuries along railroad tracks,” according to the organization. The award recognizes individuals demonstrating “outstanding dedication to safety in the number of volunteer hours committed to Operation Lifesaver annually, the nature of volunteer activities performed, and other personal contributions to the Operation Lifesaver program.”

Ashworth, of Grand Island, Neb., has been an active OLI volunteer since 2010. She has given more than 900 safety presentations to more than 10,000 people since 2017. Ashworth, who also serves as an OLI coach, has worked to expand Nebraska OLI partnerships with schools, first responders, driver education programs, photographer groups, K-12 students, and more.

Kittendorf, a retired Hewlett-Packard employee, was an active Georgia OLI volunteer from 2004 until his death in March 2020. He logged thousands of hours volunteering and incorporated the OLI rail safety message in his activities with groups such as the National Railway Historical Society; Southeastern Railway Museum; Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park; Amtrak’s National Park Service’s Trails and Rails Program; Blue Ridge Scenic Railway; and Florida East Coast Railway Society.

“We are proud to name Debra Ashworth and Del Kittendorf as co-winners of this award, honoring their dedication to saving lives on behalf of Operation Lifesaver,” OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said. “These individuals exemplify our amazing, passionate volunteers, who are making a difference every day in their communities.”

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