Ranger Brendan Unitt Community Service Award Recipients Named

Larimer County Rangers flag raising, courtesy Charlie Johnson.

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Ranger Brendan Unitt Community Service Award recipients named Carolina and Tomas Quinonez, both Larimer County Human Services Department employees, are the recipients of the 2022 Ranger Brendan Unitt Service Community Service Award.

Brendan Unitt was a Larimer County Natural Resources Ranger who gave back to our community in countless ways. He lost his life in August 2020 rescuing distressed swimmers during a storm at Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County. The Ranger Brendan Unitt Service Award is presented to a Larimer County employee in his memory who demonstrates a passion to serve their community through selfless acts of community service.

Both Carolina and Tomas serve our community in countless ways by getting information and resources out to those to reach and strengthen families who might have language barriers or not have the necessary access to these resources. Carolina is a Case Manager at the Larimer County Office on Aging, and Tomas is a Community Navigator in the Children, Youth, and Family Division, both within the Department of Human Services.

“Thank you for helping folks in our community navigate the system and supporting folks in our community who might need some language help. Your giving back is very commendable. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Larimer County Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally.

Carolina finds every opportunity both during her job and outside work to ensure that those in the Spanish-speaking community understand and have access to resources available to them. She also connects immigrant families who are being deported with agencies, churches, and nonprofits with needed resources.

“You embody the spirit of Ranger Brendan Unitt, who went above and beyond the call of duty. I think it’s a real gift to know different languages and connect with different cultures,” said Larimer County Commissioner John Kefalas. “I also want to give a shout-out to our Guiding Principles Committee who work very hard in trying to decide who receives the award. It’s not an easy task.”

During the Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome Fires, Tomas was on the scene reaching out to families who use Spanish as their primary language, sharing the resources and information to access the resources available to them during and when in recovery from both fires. Tomas also works in the Fatherhood Initiative so that engaging fathers are present in families. As a community navigator with the Supported Families, Stronger Community grant, Tomas focuses on the prevention of child maltreatment, and early intervention.

“It’s really exciting to give this award to a family that commits themselves to take care of others,” said Larimer County Commissioner Kristin Stephens. “You do that at your day jobs, then at night and on the weekends and days off you also serve the community and find people struggling in our community — voices, and faces that we don’t see often and sometimes that have to hide – by reaching out to people who are vulnerable in our community. I’m grateful for that.”

About the Ranger Brendan Unitt Community Service Award:
Brendan Unitt Brendan began to serve as a Larimer County Natural Resources Boat Ranger at Horsetooth Reservoir in 2020. He committed himself wholeheartedly to providing safety assistance and emergency response to visitors at Horsetooth Reservoir. On Aug. 20, 2020, Brendan Unitt died while rescuing distressed swimmers during a sudden severe storm on Horsetooth Reservoir. Brendan was only days away from starting classes through the police academy at Aims Community College. He was 27 years old. Ranger Unitt’s service and sacrifice to the citizens of Larimer County are honored annually through the Ranger Unitt Award.