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Volunteerism starts at home, says Turlock’s ‘Outstanding Senior’
senior award Skip Young
Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa presents Turlock resident Neil “Skip” Young with his 2024 Outstanding Senior Citizen award (Photo contributed).

If parents want their children to experience the benefits of volunteerism and helping others then they have to set the example. That is what Neil “Skip” Young says set him on a lifelong path that has included service to country and community. He learned it from watching how his parents lived their lives.

“On both sides of my family they always did things to help others,” Young said. “It was instilled all through my family that this was something you should do if you could.”

Young, who is celebrating his 91st birthday June 22, was recently named one of Stanislaus County’s Outstanding Senior Citizens for District 2, which includes Turlock.

Though he says he is not one to bask in accolades, Young said he was honored to have been chosen.

Young spent 30 years as a member of the United States Marine Corps, but as a young man it was not a career path he thought he would embark upon.

“My father owned a butcher shop and was a reserve in the Marine Corps called into service in 1939,” Young said. “I had lived around the military but I wasn’t planning on going in when I graduated. But then Korea was happening so I should join before getting drafted.”

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1952 and fought in the Korean War and three tours in Vietnam.

“I found I enjoyed the Marine Corps and the job I did, so I decided to stay,” he said.

During his 30 years of service to the country, Young was presented with numerous commendations, including the Air Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, National Service Defense Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, United Nations Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal, Korean War Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Young retired from the Marine Corps as a First Lieutenant but his service did not end there. He volunteered with Boy Scouts and Little Leagues. However, it was a health scare that set Young on the volunteer work that would keep him busy in his retirement years.

“In 2004 I had a heart attack,” Young said. “I was alone and had to call 911 and it was Alex Stapler that I spoke with. She has become like my golden child. She stayed on the phone with me until the paramedics arrived.”

In 2005, when Young was feeling healthy again, he read an article about the Volunteers in Police Services at the Turlock Police Department and it immediately felt like something he should join.

He has contributed more than 10,000 volunteer hours to the department and earned their Volunteer of the Year award twice. Young spent many of those hours patrolling the streets of Turlock providing visibility and extra patrol to the city. He also provided traffic control for parades, the annual county fair, and crime scenes.

“Mr. Young has been a role model to the Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS), patrol officers, and the entire police department,” reads the nomination for Young. “Mr. Young trained numerous new VIPS for the Turlock Police Department. Mr. Young improved his community by attending Neighborhood Watch meetings and helping new Neighborhood Watch groups start. Mr. Young has enhanced the lives of others by his example of volunteerism, community involvement, service to others, work ethic, sense of humor, and retelling of his interesting war stories. Mr. Young improved his community by helping the police department keep it safe and more secure.”

The awards are presented by the county’s Commission on Aging. Citizens of the county, age 60 or older, may be nominated for their outstanding volunteer work in any of the following areas: community service, dedication/commitment, leadership, volunteer work, being a good neighbor, and role model in the community. One awardee is selected from each of the county’s five districts.