WELLSBURG - For nearly 40 years the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired Senior and Volunteer Program has connected local residents wanting to help the community with nonprofit organizations that can benefit from their assistance.
At RSVP's annual luncheon at the Wellsburg Fire Hall, leaders of the program and state officials recognized 350 volunteers who collectively put in 75,677 hours of service to an estimated 321,000 residents of the four counties, according to Angela Kocher, the BHOM RSVP's executive director.
Jeannette Meriwether, a founder of the program and emcee for its annual recognition luncheon, noted the volunteers serve in a variety of ways, including tutoring individuals in literacy programs, serving hot meals at senior centers, assisting at blood drives and stuffing envelopes for fundraising campaigns.
Meriwether said volunteers are greatly appreciated by the groups they help, but the volunteering is good for the participants as well because it exposes them to new experiences.
Among the many receiving recognition were Idola Byrom, Diana Crago, Eileen Gogol and Jackie Vacheresse, who were presented the Lifetime Presidential Service Award for providing more than 4,000 hours of service.
A Weirton resident, Byrom has volunteered for 14 years, lending time at such places as Freedom Place, the Brooke-Hancock Senior Nutrition program and the Greater Weirton Senior Center, where she helps in the kitchen, while caring in recent years for her husband.
Crago, another Weirton resident, also has volunteered for 14 years, transporting seniors to doctor's appointments and other destinations, assisting with the community Thanksgiving dinner at the Weirton senior center and assisting at Weirton Medical Center, where she has been a member of the auxiliary.
A former Follansbee business owner and member of the Steubenville Art Association, Gogol has made lap robes and shawls for nursing home residents, assisted with crafts at the Brooke County Senior Center and currently spends many hours caring for a friend with Alzheimer's disease.
A Weirton native and Follansbee resident, Vacheresse has transported seniors to the store and church, volunteered at the Mary H. Weir Public Library and served on boards overseeing the Brooke County and Weirton senior centers, where she has assisted with bingo and various fundraisers.
Legislative citations and certificates of appreciation were awarded to the four by state Sens. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, and Orphy Klempa, D-Wheeling; state Dels. Roy Givens and Phil Diserio, both D-Brooke, Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio; Larry Lemon and Keith McIntosh, representatives, respectively, of U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va.; Flynn Altmeyer, representative of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling; Ed Bowman, representative of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; Kristin Cross, representative of state Auditor Glen Gainer III; and Derek Walker and Amy Nickerson, representatives of state Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
The Donna J. Weaver Award, named for the BHOM RSVP's late, former director, was presented to Josephine Patrone, a Steubenville native who lives in Follansbee.
Patrone has given many hours to RSVP's After School Adventures Program and the children there have come to see her as a mother figure, said Tiffeny Davis, an AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America participant who has worked closely with her.
Patrone has assisted the children with their homework, crafts and community service projects as well as serving as a bingo caller and assisting in other ways at the Brooke County Senior Center, Davis said.
Gold Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 500 hours or more to: Evelyn Alleman, Robert Beckelhimer, Loretta Ceccarelli, Sharlee A. DeMaria, Helen Dunlope, Kathy R. Gill, Jean Hitzfield, Shirley Hood, Donald Kennedy, JoAnn Kerr, Linda Lamp, Minnie Malloy, Barbara McCoy, Nicki Melissinos, Vera Morton, Eileen Mrvos, Nora Neff, Fred Pickens, Katy Rosohac, Evea Shelton, Chester Snezek, Gerry Taibi, Nancy Waugh, Becky Weigand and Mabel Winesburg.
Silver Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 250 to 499 hours or more to: James Brooks, Beulah Brown, Clara Call, Martha Carra, Bessie Crossley, Charles Crossley, Catherine DeSantis, Nancy C Ferns, Virginia Forker, Mary Ann Gala, Patrician Goldsmith, Sylvia Hornak, Jean Irvin, Carol Jackson, Rhea Jewell, Marla Kessler, Robert Law, Patty Lish, Paul Lish, Norma Meyer, Inez Oliver, Richard Oswald, Barbara Rogerson, Judy Sargus, Sally Starko, Vicki Tomich, Vivian Tustin, Pat Wagner, Edward Wilkerson, Elizabeth Williamson and Susanna Wilson.
Bronze Presidential Awards for Volunteer Service of 100 to 249 hours to: Barbara Andrews, Marie Csontos, Duane L. Fluharty, Shirley Foreman, Donald Forester, John Grimm, Fred Hervey, Irene Kutay, Valerie Leasure, Sally Marple, Patricia McCreary, Elizabeth Messerly, Milo Buck Meyer, Annette Mullen, Michael Mullen, Delores Pantelis, Ella Phelps, Gary Robinson, Vicki Rouse, Karen Santoro, Adda Thornton and Joan Yaeger.
Recognition also was given to the following long-time members and their years of service: Inez Oliver, 20 years; Hattie Adams, 15 years; Jack Cassella, Penny Clark, Edith Cooper, Margaret Foster, Margaret Freshwater, William Lantz, Carol Northcraft, Jane Stafford, Billy Walters and Sally Walters, 10 years; and Naomi Baker, Mary Lou Batcho, Janet Benzo, Paul "Bud" Billiard, Dorothy Gorman, Minerva Gutwald, Pat Hensley, Louise Herman, Jean Hitzfield, Nancy Holt, James Hupka, Marla Kessler, Rena Konkle, William Konkle, Dolores Krinock, Ruth Lewis, Carol Lynn, Thomas McBride, Eveyln McMasters, Eva Morrow, Vera Morton, Judy Pevach, Gary Riggs, Barbara Rogerson, Lola Starvaggi, Jacqueline Rae Tate, David VanBeveren, Nancy Waugh and Mary Wiley, all five years.
Walker, who is chief investigator of the attorney general's consumer protection division, served as guest speaker. He said the division aims to protect citizens against fraud and scams and offers informational booklets on topics ranging from hiring a contractor to avoiding identity theft as well as a hotline at (800) 368-8808 that is manned by staff during regular office hours.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)