Each year the Cody Medical Foundation recognizes volunteers in our community for their outstanding service. Congratulations to the 2019 honorees:  Lelani (Lani) Snyder, Ken Markert, and Rita Stephens Overfield!

Lelani (Lani) Snyder

Her heart is in the right place; she genuinely cares about Cody

A Cody native, Lelani Snyder spent most of her youth here except for a few years in the Panama Canal Zone. After graduation from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Finance, she spent several years working in the fashion industry in New York City. When her father offered her job with him in the oil industry, she returned to Cody, later marrying Joe Maniscalco.

Says Snyder, “Everything I’ve worked on has meant a lot to me. I strongly believe in the causes of the projects in which I’ve volunteered.  My husband and I don’t have any children to raise, so I feel I have more time to give than others.”

Snyder began her thirty-year plus history of community service with Relay for Life as the Accounting and Food Chairs. At the Northwest Family Planning Crab Crack, she served as the Auction Chair. For the Republican Women, Park County Nordic Ski Association and Chapter AO PEO Snyder volunteered as Treasurer. Then working with the Western Design Conference and Cody High Style Fashion Show she was Co-Chair with KT Roes and Jeannie Price.

Adds Price, “Lani is persevering, ready to accept a challenge, task and goal oriented and possesses mental steel that will not accept failure.  A task, no matter how small or large, will always be brought to fruition. Moreover, she has a great sense of humor, which always makes the job more enjoyable. I’ve seen Lani help many people on a personal level.  Her heart is in the right place. She genuinely cares about the community.”

As one of the original Cody Medical Foundation Vital Signs Committee members, she helped fundraise for Rolling Meals, Spirit Mountain Hospice, and modernizing the Price Cancer Treatment Center’s facilities and interior. Notes Snyder, “The refurbishment was a special interest project for me because of my mother’s experience receiving treatment in the old center.”

Snyder is currently on the Park County Animal Shelter Steering Committee helping spearhead their Capital Campaign. Says Snyder, “Your support of this campaign will make a life-changing difference to the animals in our care both now and in the future. This project provides Cody and Park County with a modern and efficient facility to meet current and future animal sheltering requirements.”

Ken Markert, President of the Park County Animal Shelter board, shares, “One thing about Lani, is that she’s always positive. She’s also very good with numbers, a savant. She sees things others may have missed.”

Why does Snyder volunteer? “I’ve met many fantastic people along my journey. I’m thankful to have been a part of numerous events and clubs that provide for the greater good of Cody”, answers Snyder.

To donate or learn more about the Park County Animal Shelter, go to www. parkcountyanimalshelter.org.

Ken Markert

Cody’s can-do attitude, working together makes the community a better place

“What’s not to like about the land of high altitude and low multitude? Small town living, open spaces, a clean environment, and outdoor recreation are all things about this community that my family cherishes”, says Ken Markert.

Markert grew up outside of Buffalo, New York. He, his wife Lynn, and their 18-month old daughter Laurel moved to Cody in 1996 to begin working as the Park County Planner. Their son Neil was born in 2002. In 2004, he started, MMI Planning his consulting firm.

Markert’s service to our community notably includes the School District’s Resource Complaint Committee, the Cody City Planning Commission and professional boards related to city planning. Since 1997 he has been a member of the Cody Rotary Club. The only active member to have held all the Club offices: President, Treasurer, Secretary, Board Director, and Show Director.

Says Howard Thompson, a fellow Rotarian,” Ken has been very active in Rotary. He is a lovely guy, with a great sense of humor who always does what he says he’ll do and then does more.”

In 2011, Markert was elected to the Park County Animal Shelter Board and currently serves as President.  He is leading the shelter’s seven-year Capital Campaign to improve the current facilities and better address the shelter’s growing needs. Notes Markert, “There is a huge demand for the shelter from people who find animals or have to give up their animals. 95% of all the shelter animals find a new home. It’s not just about the animals. It’s about the people connected to the animals. We’re the only animal shelter that serves Park County and Cody except for Powell who has a shelter within city limits.” The new shelter will open in late 2020.

Lelani Snyder, Steering Committee member on the Capital Campaign, contributes, “Ken’s solely responsible for getting a reconciliation to the land acquisition. As a forward thinker, he’s excellent at presenting the problems and solutions of the shelter to the community. Cody and the shelter are fortunate to have him”.

What inspires Markert? “Cody’s can-do attitude, a belief that working together makes the community an even better place. One time when I was particularly tired of community service, I opened a fortune cookie that said, “Every burden is a blessing.” That settled it,” remembers Markert.

“The achievements that might be attributed to me are the achievements of the teams on which I have served. The 1998 County Land Use Plan, the 2000 County Zoning Regulations, planning for the new Law Enforcement Center, the 50th Rotary Show, the revival of the Park County Animal Shelter, and construction of a new animal shelter”, relates Markert. He feels a sense of obligation to the community and the state that are so good to him and his family.

To donate or learn more about the Park County Animal Shelter, go to www. parkcountyanimalshelter.org.

Rita Stephens Overfield

Rita cares, we’re blessed to have her in the community, a gracious, wonderful individual

Born in Newport Arkansas, Rita Overfield, lived in Michigan before moving to Cody in 1977 with her husband, Bill. She immediately began volunteering with Rolling Meals after a friend invited her to help. “Volunteering is a way to meet people. I learned about Cody. Everybody had a story. I found it very interesting. Cody is wonderful. Folks are always ready to help,” says Overfield.

Her passion is mental health awareness. When doctors diagnosed her daughter with Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder with addiction issues, Overfield began a journey to better grasp and meet the challenges mental health presents. Explains Overfield, “It’s a long process, a series of steps that lead to greater understanding. At first, I didn’t know what we were going through. In the process, I realized lots people were struggling like us. Other people were in the same ocean trying to swim. Since my husband and I’ve been there, I can share my experiences”.

While President of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), Park County for eight years and the Vice President for four years she wrote “From the President’s Desk” for the NAMI newsletter. The post eventually transitioned to, “Mental Health Update,” a monthly column in the Enterprise about mental health awareness. “Rita’s column is personal, meaningful, straightforward, and touching which is what makes it so successful,” notes Bruce McCormack former editor of the Enterprise.

Says Overfield about her column, “I want to give readers hope. People are looking for help. My job is to point out the issue. They may not know that what’s going on in their life is a mental health issue and has a name. They’re afraid. They can find a therapist and get help.”

In a recent post, “Pets are important mental health aides,” Overfield shares her insight, “Persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a mood disorder such as bipolar or depression can benefit greatly from a service animal trained to help them through panic attacks, mania, and dangerous situations. They can be trained to ensure their owners get their medication and to help reorient their owners to reality and help alert emergency services if needed.”

Overfield is grateful to the publishers of the Enterprise, Sage Publishing, and editors of the Enterprise, Bruce McCormick, Vin Cappiello, and Amber Peabody for their vision in placing “Mental Health Update” prominently on the front page of the People section. Doing so lets the community know mental health is an important subject.

At Spirit Mountain Hospice House where Overfield volunteers, Randy Leisey, the volunteer coordinator, and spiritual counselor says it best, “Rita’s a gem of a person, a faithful volunteer. She knows what to say to people and how to make them feel comfortable. Rita cares. She knows her stuff. We’re blessed to have her in the community, a gracious, wonderful individual.”

To read more of Overfield’s columns go to www.codyenterprise.com and search for Rita Stephens Overfield. To learn more about NAMI, go to www.nami.org.


Images and articles by Cindy Bennett

Click here to view the honorees from previous years