FOLLANSBEE - For more than 35 years, the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program has been connecting area seniors and retirees who want to give of their time with schools, libraries and other nonprofit organizations that can benefit from their assistance.
RSVP leaders took time at a luncheon at St. Francis Centre to thank all of the program's more than 400 participants and to recognize those who have put in the most hours or years of service.
Tasks performed by RSVP members have included serving as tutors for literacy programs, serving hot meals at senior centers, assisting at blood drives, stuffing envelopes for fundraising campaigns, serving as instructors of the AARP Safe Driving program and assisting area residents in completing their federal income tax returns through AARP's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
RECOGNIZED — At the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program’s annual luncheon, Margaret Freshwater of Colliers, third from left, was presented several awards, including the Presidential Lifetime Service Award, for putting in more than 4,000 hours of service. With her are, from left: state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke; Kristin Bowman Cross, a representative of state Auditor Glen B. Gainer; Michelle Figaretti, a representative of Gov. Joe Manchin; Michelle Teare, state program specialist for the Corp. for National and Community Service; and Angela Kocher, RSVP director.
Among those involved in such efforts is Margaret Freshwater of Colliers, who was presented the Presidential Lifetime Award for providing 6,480 hours of service in her eight years with the program.
State Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg; and representatives of Gov. Manchin and state Auditor Glen B. Gainer also were on hand to present plaques of appreciation to Freshwater.
Local RSVP Director Angela Kocher said Freshwater has applied her love of sewing in many ways, donating three king-size quilts with matching pillow shams and two throw quilts that served as prizes for drawings that raised more than $4,000 for the program.
She also has supplied the Appalachian Outreach program with 42 quilted twin-size quilts and more than 60 garbage bags filled with men's clothing she had collected. She's also made 141 walker and wheelchair totes and 360 bibs for residents of nursing homes.
With other members of the Overbrook Towers Quilters, she has created two twin-size quilts presented to outstanding high school seniors.
Kocher said Freshwater's volunteer work hasn't been limited to sewing, as she also has planted hundreds of flowers as part of RSVP's beautification of the city of Follansbee; served lunches to local children through C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc.'s summer nutrition program; and chaired RSVP's fundraising dances, for which she also has made hundreds of cookies and candy and crocheted party favors.
Asked why she has lent so much time to RSVP, "I just like people and I like keeping busy."
Freshwater said she learned the importance of helping others while growing up in Colliers.
"Everybody helped everyone else, so I always felt this was my community family," she said.
Kocher and the RSVP's advisory council also recognized recipients of the following awards:
The Donna J. Weaver Award, named for the late, former director of the BHOM RSVP to Bill Bryant of Wheeling. Kocher said Bryant is literally a life-saver for his actions earlier this year at the M.J. Viola Senior Center in Wheeling.
She explained Bryant, a former emergency medical technician, upon finding a woman at the center slumped in her chair, yelled for someone to call 911, then administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the woman.
It was later learned the woman's electrolytes were out of balance and she had become dehydrated, Kocher said.
The award was presented by Vicki Staffileno, Weaver's daughter.
Gold Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 500 hours or more to: Winona Arthurs, Paula Billick, Deloris Flynn, John H. Cox, Norma Gosney, Louise Herman, Dee Krinock, Ruth C. Lewis, Sonya Metz, Rose Michel, Linda Moore, Eva Morrow, Ann Niciforos, Linda Porreca, Hazel Powell, Gary Riggs, Linda Rockwell, Frances D. Rodocker, Robert G. Rodocker, Margaret Rojak, Ruth Sperry, Jacqueline Rae Tate, Jean Verner and Glynda Marie Walker.
Silver Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 250 to 499 hours or more to: Bryant, Nancy Burnik, Marilyn L. Carlsen, LaVaughn Coulter, Anthony Fiorilli, Jean Grishkevich, Minerva Gutwald, Fred Hart, Marilyn Hinchee, Bernard E. Hunt Sr., Blanche Knabenshue, Carol Lynn, Beulah McGowan, Thelma Meadows, Nora Neff, Josephine Patrone, Freda Pickens, Virginia Roseberry and Barbara Tunno.
Bronze Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 100 to 249 hours to: Betty Bake, Joseph Bechtel, Bob Beckelhimer, Florence Cassella, Violet E. Corso, Terry DeAngelis, Judy J. Dobbins, Ronald L. Dobbins, Helen Dunope, Linda Faith, Anita V. Guire, Jean Hitzfeld, Nancy Marie Holt, Mary Louise Horwood, Paul David Krnaich, Nancy Lash, Thomas Lash, Peggy Mead, Ray Mead, Vera Teeters Morton, George Pohlman, June D. Puskarich, Kelly Reasbeck, Kathy Santoro, Mararget Eilene Siburt, Vivian Tustin, Linda Vidoni, Frances Wenzel and Ruth Zirkle.
Long-time members also were recognized for service over the following years:
Five years: Betty Bake, Lee Beckner, Marjorie Burgess, Beryl Carr, Edna Crupe, Mary Jane Cummings, Martha Dodasovich, Lorraine Durante, Virginia Forker, Gloria Foster, Dorothy Harrington, Gloria Hartman, Howard Hibbitts, Rhea Jewell, Michael June, Carl Keister, Judy A. Keister, Howard Kerr, JoAnn Kerr, Denise May, Vay Mitchell, Dino Rossi, Jennie Salvadori, Nancy Scott, Evea Shelton, Maggie Stewart, Nancy Tarr, Adda B. Thornton, Roland Ulizio, Pat Wagner, Dolores Yenke and Jack Yost.
10 years: Mary Ashbee, Anna Berta, Diana Crago, Jeannie Duffy, Jenny Fetty, Joan Hawrot, Mary Janeshek, Grace Lenhart, John Patton, Dolores Proakis, Ed Rochinich, Louise Rocini, Nancy Smith, Dolores Szymanski, Phyllis Troia, Rose Ulizio, Jean Verner and Elda Weekley.
15 years: Roy Brown, Jackie Griffith, Jean Grishkevich, Louise McDonald, Mary Sacripanti and Annette Savastone.
20 years: Mae Brady and Mildred Cross.
25 years: Zola Conley, Edith Geary and Bernice Lada.
30 years: Dorothy Croce.
Motivational speaker Joseph Harties encouraged the volunteers to keep up the good work and to share the values and lessons they have learned with youth.
He said while there are two dates given on every headstone, one's birth and death, what's most important is the hyphen, how one has spent the time between.
Kocher encouraged anyone 55 years of age or older or retired to contact her at (304) 527-3410 to learn how they can get involved.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)