Volunteers from the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System were honored with more than 250 awards at a recognition celebration Thursday morning at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple.

Lilo Saenz, a local volunteer, was named National Advisory Council Volunteer of the Year for 2017. Saenz, who has volunteered with the organization for 16 years, was recently also presented with the Lady of the Decade Award from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which recognized her dedication to veterans. In the last sixteen years, she has spent 48,735 volunteer hours helping veterans.

"I cannot be sitting and playing bingo with old folks all day long," Saenz said. "I know I'm old, but that's beside the point. The veterans need me and so do the families. Whatever they need, I get for them."

The following volunteers were also recognized for generously donating their time to veterans: Arthur T. Martinez, Eddie Davidson, Michael Lehto, Lula Luken, LaHoma McKay, Neil Wiese, Clifford G. Barnes, Jr., Debra A. Wittrock, Diane Clarke, Charles T. Grant, Jose G. Olalde Jr. and Don H. Ray.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, 1,747 volunteers in the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System worked 104,390 hours and drove more than 158,275 miles for the Disabled American Veteran van service. And, the organization saw cash and in-kind donations that totaled $458,135.

"Forty-seven volunteers gave us more than 104-thousand hours last year, which equates to forty-three full-time employees for us," Voluntary Services Chief Reginald Hardy said. "So, with them coming out to do that, it really helps offset what we don't have."

This week is National Volunteer Week -- something that began in 1974 under President Richard Nixon and has continued under every president since.