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Melissa Candelaria Named 2014 Kennedy-Kafer Service Award Recipient

3RNet has added a new award to be presented at the annual conference each year.

The Kennedy-Kafer Service Award was created in honor of Nikki Kennedy-Kafer and Jerry Kafer retiring in 2014. Mike Shimmens, executive director, felt strongly that their legacy should be remembered for years to come.

“Nikki and Jerry have been the heart of our organization for so long. We knew the time would eventually come when they would retire, and as we approached the conference which was their last event as staff, I knew it was important that we honor them in a really special way,” Shimmens said.

3RNet staff chose the recipient of the Kennedy-Kafer Service Award. They knew the recipient needed to be someone who shares the same qualities that made Nikki and Jerry so important to 3RNet for so long.

“We will never completely say ‘goodbye’ to Nikki and Jerry – they are just to close to us. They have always been behind-the-scenes people, and I’m thrilled we were able to put the spotlight on them a little and create this award which will keep their legacy going while honoring members who dedicate so much of themselves to our organization,” Shimmens added.

Melissa Candelaria is the 2014 recipient of the Kennedy-Kafer Service Award. Melissa is a senior recruiter for New Mexico Health Resources, 3RNet’s New Mexico member since 3RNet’s inception in 1995.

What does she enjoy most about being part of 3RNet? The members – who she considers not only her colleagues, but her friends. Among them, of course, Nikki Kennedy-Kafer and Jerry Kafer. Melissa has known Nikki and Jerry for many years, and admires them both a great deal. They are an inspiration to her, and she says they are both “so dedicated, hard working, and always willing to help in any way possible”. We think this same thing of Melissa, which is why she was the perfect choice for the first ever recipient of the Kennedy-Kafer Service Award. Thank you, Melissa, for everything you do for New Mexico and 3RNet.

Melissa embodies the spirit of the Kennedy-Kafer Service award through her hard work, positivity, and compassion.

“Though it can be very tough, I get a lot of happiness and satisfaction knowing that I am a part of filling some gaps in the most underserved areas.  It is fulfilling and can be fun,” Melissa said of her work.

“It means a great deal, it means that I am part of not only helping the health professional find a suitable practice, which can be overwhelming for them, but I also help a community in need.  I am from a rural town and I know first hand what a struggle it can be to get quality health care for a variety of reasons,” she added.

Melissa has held several leadership positions within 3RNet. She has served on the annual conference planning committee for several years, was instrumental in the planning and production of 3RNet’s annual conference when it was hosted in Albuquerque, and has helped with many other 3RNet-related projects and presentations. Melissa currently serves on 3RNet’s board of directors.

As the recipient of the 2014 Kennedy-Kafer Service Award, Melissa received a set of coasters embellished with the award name and her own. 3RNet staff thought coasters symbolized Nikki and Jerry – when you invite someone into your home or office, you serve them, show kindness, and make sure they are satisfied – similar to how Nikki and Jerry dealt with 3RNet members for many years.