RSVP honors its volunteers
WELLSBURG – George Smoulder, executive director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, told participants of the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program when they deliver a meal to a shut-in, read to a child or help the community in any way, they may never know the real impact they have made.
For example, the food may be the only hot, nutritious meal the shut-in receives and the volunteer the only visitor that person sees that day, said Smoulder, who was guest speaker for the program’s annual recognition luncheon Thursday.
“Please, please, please continue to do what you’re doing for as long as you can,” he told the hundreds of volunteers who were treated to a brief ride aboard the Gateway Clipper Empress, where they were presented certificates of appreciation and goody bags.
Among the many honorees were John Fox and Rena Konkle of Wellsburg and Mary Leone of Follansbee, who were presented the lifetime presidential lifetime service award for putting in more than 4,000 hours of service.
Representatives of federal and state lawmakers and officials also were on hand to present plaques of appreciation and resolutions honoring the three for their service.
RSVP Executive Director Angela Kocher noted Leone, a former telephone company operator, now answers the phone and performs other tasks at the Weirton Salvation Army office.
“Her volunteering keeps her going by helping her to keep busy, and she recommends it to everybody,” Kocher said, adding Leone didn’t attend the luncheon because she didn’t want to miss volunteering.
Kocher said Konkle is known for doing things for neighbors, such as watering plants, as well as buying food and finding shelter for a homeless man. She has collected toiletries and blankets for service members overseas and food for local charities and visited residents at nursing homes, where she also sings.
“Rena volunteers because she loves it. She loves to help anyone she can, and she would do more if she weren’t working,” she said.
Kocher said Fox is an Air Force veteran and member of the Wellsburg Moose Lodge, where he does much of his volunteering, including working in the kitchen, setting up fundraising dinners for nonprofit groups and assisting with blood drives. He also has collected recyclable paper for the Brooke County Opportunity Center and appeared as Santa’s elf and the Easter Bunny for holiday events, said his friend, Linda Porreca.
Fox already was volunteering when he learned about RSVP and joined after hearing all he needed to do was sign up and record his hours.
Kocher also presented the Donna J. Weaver Award to Bill Lantz for his efforts with the AARP Tax Assistance program at the Brooke County Senior Center. She said since 2002, Lantz has aided seniors and people with low incomes in completing their tax returns,
Kocher said when the program’s district coordinator retired this year, Lantz stepped in, undergoing the required training and recruiting three new volunteers to ensure the program would continue.
As a result, more than 600 residents received help and more will follow, she said.
Kocher noted Lantz also volunteers with the Follansbee beautification committee and for fundraisers for the Brooke County Senior Center and RSVP.
Lantz said he is proud to accept the award, which is named for the late former RSVP executive director, because it was she who asked him to serve the tax assistance program.
Kocher also expressed thanks to Kim Weaver, executive director of the Weirton Christian Center, for securing 100 computers for the After-School Adventures program established by RSVP in Follansbee. The program has been so successful that two new after-school sites will be opening soon in Wellsburg.
Kocher noted the program is one of many for which RSVP supplies volunteers. Among the others are the AARP Safe Driving program, where RSVP members have served as instructors; literacy programs where they are tutors; senior centers, where they serve meals; and nonprofit organizations, where they have stuffed envelopes for fundraising campaigns.
Also recognized were the following:
– Gold Presidential Award recipients for 500 hours of service or more: Lee Beckner, James Brooks, Beulah Brown, Phyllis Burkle, Martha Carra, Fay Coulter, Bessie Crossley, Charles Crossley, Eleanor Elliott, Nancy Ferns, Mary Ann Gala, Louis Golar, John Grimm, Sylvia Hornak, Carol Jackson, Iona McColloch, Jeannette Meriwether, Milo “Buck” Meyer, Norma Meyer, Nora Neff, Inez Oliver, June Puskarich, Kathy Santoro, Judy Sargus, Pat Wagner, Margaret “Peg” White, Susanna Wilson and Ruth Zirkle.
– Silver Presidential Awards for 250 to 499 hours of service: Barbara Andrews, Rita Angalich, Anne Berardi, Florence Cassella, Connie Davis, Duane Fluharty, Regina Jackson, Flora Lewis, Sally Marple, Patricia McCreary, Elizabeth Messerly, Annette Mullen, Mike Mullen, Denny Ohler, Mary Robbins, Patricia Robinson, Karen Santoro, Jacqueline Varga, Mark Wagner and Mary Willey.
– Bronze Presidential Awards for 100 to 249 hours of service: Mildred Bayless, Edward Brothers, Virginia Deneen, George Dragonir, Mazie Kage, Doug Lilly, Tom McBride, Florence McMurray, Deborah Minor, Bill Schaefer, Sheila Smith, Linda Thomas, Robert Thomas, Henry “Hank” Vincent and Irene Zogg.
Recognition also was given to: Myrtle Flowers and Shirley Wiggins, both 30 years; Bessie Eddy and Ruth Hissom, 25 years; Mildred McConnell, Julia Stakevich and Antonette Wilkerson, 20 years; Idola Byrom, Barbara Cameron, Antonia Canella, Diana Crago, Maxine DiPalma, Jenny Fetty, Joan Hawrot, Vivian Hunt, Gladys Ice, Jeannette Meriwether and Dolores Szymanski, 15 years; Gloria Foster, Howard Hibbits, Rhea Jewell, Wesley Schoolcraft and Barbara Visnic, 10 years; and five-year participants, Winnie Arthurs, Paula Billick, William Bryant, Phyllis Burkle, Marilyn Carlsen, Loretta Ceccarelli, Tammy Croghan, Bessie Crossley, Charles Crossley, Helen Dunope, Dolores Edwards, Pat Farley, John Fox, Harold Gosney Jr., Norma Gosney, Mailyn Hinchee, Patricia Huffner, Bernard Hunt Sr., James Hupka, Jean Irvin, Bill and Rena Konkle, Molly Lamone, Linda Lamp, Nancy Lash, Thomas Lash, Flora Lewis, Thelma Meadows, Diana Mendel, Sonya Metz, Ann Niciforos, Josephine Patrone, Linda Porreca, June Puskarich, Linda Rockwell, Shirlie Rogers, Bertha Sacco, Kathy Santoro, Margaret Siburt, Mary Smith, Ruth Sperry, Patti Stafford, Vivian Tustin, David VanBeveren, Louis Vidoni, Hank Vincent, Glynda Walker, Ann Wandling, Eileen Wood and Ruth Zirkle.