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Retired, senior volunteers honored

May 7, 2011
By WARREN SCOTT - staff writer , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - Participants of the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program have performed such tasks as shelving books at libraries, teaching people to read and reading to elementary students, instructing an AARP driver safety course and assisting seniors and others in completing their tax returns.

And on April 28 coordinators of the nonprofit program recognized 320 participants in the program for the more than 60,000 hours of service they provided in 2010.

Receiving special recognition were six who were presented Lifetime Presidential Awards for providing more than 4,000 hours of service.

The six, and some of their many activities, were: Paul "Bud" Billiard, who has served as volunteer publicity coordinator for the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation; Pat Farley, who has served meals for the Senior Nutrition program; Ann Niciforos, who has volunteered for the West Virginia Birth to Three program; Gary Riggs, who has transported veterans to Veteran Administration hospitals; Jacqueline Rae Tate, who has planted flowers for the Follansbee beautification project; and Glynda M. Walker, who has held an annual cake auction to benefit Easter Seals.

The six also were presented legislative citations and certificates of appreciation by Flynn Altmeyer, on behalf of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling; state Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Wheeling; Kris Yost, on behalf of her husband, state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg; state Dels. Roy Givens and Tim Ennis, both D-Brooke; Kristin Cross, field representative for state Auditor Glen Gainer; and Michelle Figaretti, regional representative for Gov. Joe Manchin.

Also receiving special recognition was Diana Mendel, who was presented the Donna J. Weaver Shining Star Award, which is named for the program's late former director. Mendel co-chairs RSVP's After-school Adventures Program and has applied her love of theater to involving children in the program in plays performed for parents, staff and visitors to the Brooke County Senior Center.

The award was presented by Vicki Staffileno, Weaver's daughter.

Others recognized were:

Gold President Volunteer Service Awards (for more than 500 hours): Pat Accettolo, Edward Arbogast, Irene Arbogast, Beth DiGregorio, Gloria Foster, Nancy Lash, Thomas Lash, Carol Lynn, Madeline McDevitt, Mendel, Delores Proakis, Jan Reed, Mary Smith and Maggie Stewart.

Silver (for 250-500 hours): Janet Benzo, Norma Jean Boni, Kenneth Carey, Loretta Ceccarelli, Sharlee DeMaria, Eleanor Elliott, Ruth Fise, Kathy Gallagher, Kathy Gill, Jean Hitzfeld, JoAnn Kerr, Bill Kocher, Donna Lauck, Evelyn McMasters, Nicki Melissinos, Jeannette Meriwether, Dorothy O'Neal, Danny Peacemaker, June Puskarich, Katy Rosohac, Gerry Taibi, Emma Kay Weimer, Mabel Winesburg and Ruth Zirkle.

Bronze (for 100-249 hours): Ella Bartung, Anna Berardi, James Brooks, Clara Call, Connie Davis, James DeMaria Sr., Patricia Goldsmith, Pat Hensley, Sylvia Hornak, Jean Irvin, Carol Jackson, Robert Lee Johnson, David Kruth, Donna Lyons, Domenica Malloy, Barbara McCoy, Mary Robbins, Patricia Robinson, Judy Sargus, Mark Tennant, Vicki Tomich, Beckey Weigand, Elizabeth Williamson and Susanna Wilson.

The following long-time participants were recognized: Evelyn Alleman, Carolyn Birkhimer and Geraldine Snodgass, all for 20 years of service; Delores Antigo, Frances Cunningham and Myrtle Smedley, 15 years; Pat Accettolo, Sarah Debnar, Frances Eafrati, Lenna Fedoush, Margaret Patton, Korienne Price, Bonnie Pugh, Dorothy Saffle, Charlene Soplinski, Peg Sweeney, Mary Tennant and Catherine Vidich, 10 years; and Terry DeAngelis, Martha Gonzales, Mary Hillyard, John Jonczak, Mary Kirsch, Gerald Long, Al Mandy, Jeannie Marcott, Darrell Mason, Patricia McCreary, Lucille Miller, Helen Moren, Ronald Penrod, Gloria Randour, Margaret Rojak, Roberta Schramm, Della Westfall and Myral Wojcicki, five years.

Serving as master of ceremonies was Jeannette Meriwether, who noted nationally RSVP is celebrating its 40th anniversary. In 1973 she and others secured the federal grant used to establish the Brooke County RSVP, which was later expanded to include Hancock, Ohio and Marshall counties.

Sponsored by the Brooke County Committee on Aging, the program is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, with contributions from many local government entities, organizations and businesses.

Recently the program and others administered by the Corp. for National and Community Service were at risk of being eliminated as a result of efforts by Congress to address the federal government's trillion dollar deficit.

Angela Kocher, the program's executive director, said it appears RSVPs will experience a 20 percent cut in federal funding, allowing them to continue. She said she's still determining the impact of that cut.

She said RSVP presents a savings to the hospitals, libraries and other nonprofit groups served by its volunteers because they eliminate the need for such institutions to pay at least $1.3 million in wages.

Serving as guest speaker was Army Reserve Lt. Col. John Shaw, who volunteered for a prison ministry in Northern Virginia for 20 years.

Shaw described how he and other troops serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, have endured the threat of enemy shelling and firepower and how their spirits were boosted by holiday cards sent by children in the After-school Adventures Program.

He said the troops enjoy receiving cards and care packages. But he also asked everyone to remember troops who have returned home, noting it can be difficult for them to adjust to changes in their families and workplaces that have occurred since they left.

(Scott can be contacted at

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