Judy Colabella and Walt Palen selected as 2022 Volunteers of the Year


The Arc of Katy Board of Directors is pleased to recognize Judy Colabella and Walt Palen as our 2022 Volunteers of the Year.


Commenting on the recognition, The Arc of Katy President Cherie Duddridge said, "Walt, Judy and other wonderful volunteers helped to make a reality The Arc of Katy’s vision of establishing a permanent facility. Walt and Judy's contributions and sweat equity are helping us to sustainably deliver high quality, affordable programs that provide learning, skills development, social enrichment, recreation, and community service opportunities for people with IDD in Fort Bend, Harris, and Waller counties."


Judy, a semi-retired healthcare professional, and Walt, who recently retired after 47 years with the energy industry, have been engaged with The Arc of Katy since 2009 when their now-31-year-old son Ben enrolled as a summer participant while attending the program for students with special needs at Taylor High School.


Walt has carried out several different volunteer roles with The Arc of Katy, most recently taking the lead in planning, design and set up of our new program facility located at 934 Jordan Ranch Boulevard in Brookshire. In recent months he often has been seen working with other volunteers to install equipment and furnishings and build a new storage and work shed and garden area there.


Meanwhile, Judy has been supporting The Arc of Katy’s online program started in 2020 to keep participants engaged who were unable to join in person because of Covid-19 health precautions and helped to establish the day program’s new butterfly raising project. She also has volunteered in our Be Strong aquatics program.


In addition, Judy and Walt support The Arc of Katy’s monthly social programs including leading movie nights for teens and adults with IDD and have helped deliver the day program’s recent woodcraft projects and popup craft sales.


Judy and Walt have volunteered in the Katy area since moving here almost 25 years ago with Ben and his older brother Jeffrey. In addition to The Arc of Katy, they supported the Taylor High School performing arts programs, the Katy Wolf Pack Special Olympics team, H2O at St. Peter’s UMC, and YMCA Camp Cinco.


Walt explained that he is pleased to volunteer because “If it wasn’t for programs like this, people like Judy and I would not have been able to work and carry on our careers. The Arc of Katy provides fun, safe and healthy day programs and social events that are important to our children and to our families.”


Noting that their family settled and stayed in Katy because of the excellent school system, Judy said, “Now, we stay in Katy, Texas, because of The Arc of Katy. The participants are all Ben’s buddies. Our involvement keeps us young and engaged. Volunteering with The Arc of Katy is fun for us and is good for Ben and the other participants. The Arc of Katy has become our community and family.”

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