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Beloved Worker Retires After 30 Years Helping Feed The Needy

DENVER (CBS4) - The Food Bank of the Rockies recently had a big party to say goodbye to a cherished worker. Olive Crawford retired after devoting 30 years to the nonprofit that provides food for more than 411,000 people annually.

It was an emotional day for Olive, partly because she loves her work and partly because she understands the need to feed those who are struggling. Olive has been there.

Life hasn't been easy for this 74 year old grandmother. She grew up poor and says she's been at "the bottom of the barrel." She's known hard times and hunger herself.

"I guess there was times I needed help," Olive told us while choking back tears, "and there were folks that helped me and so I want to give back."

Olive Crawford (1)
Olive Crawford (credit: CBS)

Olive started at the Food Bank of the Rockies as a volunteer back in 1983. Two years later, she was an employee.

"I consider it a gift," said an emotional Olive, "It's a wonderful gift. I don't know how I got it but I did."

Over three decades, Olive has risen from driving a forklift to the job of Volunteer Coordinator. She managed 12,000 volunteers a year. Many of them showed up at the celebration to give Olive a hug and tell her they will miss her.

"When I'm around the volunteers, it's just a wonderful spirit, a wonderful loving spirit. They're all-giving. It's just a great place to be," said Olive.

Olive Crawford
Olive Crawford (credit: CBS)

But now, she has decided the place to be is with her husband, Gaylen, traveling around Colorado and other places. Olive says she will miss the people and the teamwork, but retirement feels right.

"I tried it at 70 and I wasn't ready. And now I can tell it's time," said Olive.

Time to move on for Olive is bittersweet for everyone else.

"We are going to miss Olive, forever. She is an institution here at this organization," said Kevin Seggelke, President and CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, "She's universally loved by our volunteers."

"I think you're just going to sit around with your feet up, " one volunteer joked with Olive.

But that would be impossible for this spry senior.

Olive vows to volunteer, once again, at the food bank.

To Olive, life is good when you're giving back.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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