Man, 88, receives award for volunteer work

Jake Rickli received a Golden Beacon award for his volunteer work in the Kalamazoo area.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An 88-year-old West Michigan native is being awarded for his dedication to volunteering in Kalamazoo.

Jake Rickli has been volunteering at Senior Services of Southwest Michigan weekly for over 20 years.

On Wednesday, the Bankers Life Kalamazoo branch honored him with its Golden Beacon award. The award highlights volunteers who are 50 years or older and are making an impact in their hometown. Bankers Life also donated $500 in Rickli’s name to Senior Services of Southwest Michigan.

“It feels good that I can help people even younger than me. I would say I am fortunate to have this,” Rickli said. “Keeps me out of trouble.”

He delivers 60 meals to more than 30 seniors every week for Meals on Wheels and is one of the organization’s longest-serving volunteers. He also provides transportation to seniors in need at Senior Services of Southwest Michigan.

Dozens were nominated for the Golden Beacon award, but Rickli stood out to the group.

“Jake’s just a wonderful person that’s vibrant, full of life, He offers that friendly smile to seniors,” said Dan Pontius, Senior Services of Southwest Michigan’s general manager of nutrition operations. “It was really a no-brainer to nominate Jake.”

Golden Beacon nominees are required to be at least 50 years old and have completed volunteer work within the past 12 months at a place that directly benefited their local community.

For Rickli, volunteering means more than giving back; it’s also about forming friendships.

“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be doing this but maybe just a couple more years, we’ll see, depends on how the old ticker holds up,” Rickli said.