Improving our region

The Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, made an interesting observation while speaking at Tuesday’s grand opening ceremony for the Franciscan Center for Evangelization and Renewal.

“I think the fact that it’s in a neighborhood, this place of peace, this place of refuge to become a place not only for our team and our staff, but also the local community — that they can come here, that they can be refreshed. It’s another sign of the university going out,” Pivonka, the president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, said during the dedication event for the 16,000-square-foot facility on Brady Circle that for decades had been home to several medical practices.

The center’s opening was one of several events held during the past week that remind us that our community is filled with good people who are working to do great things and make the lives of those around them better.

“We live by a saying — you win with people,” Anthony Mougianis said while speaking during last Sunday’s gala fundraising event that supports the efforts of the Ohio Valley Health Center.

“As a I look through the crowd, I see many familiar faces, and that is what truly makes our Tri-State Area special — people are always there and able to help.”

Mougianis and Tara Dzovonick again served as co-chairs for the event at the St. Florian Event Center. It’s always an important day on the calendar — money raised through the dinner, live auction and other giveaways makes up about half of the operating budget for the center, which is located at 423 South St. in Steubenville and ensures that uninsured and underinsured area residents can have access to quality health care.

In addition to the gala and other donations, the health center is able to complete its mission thanks to the help of volunteers on many levels from throughout the region. This year’s gala, which carried the theme “Where Hope Grows,” was the 16th — but the first held in the last three years, the others becoming victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our medical providers are the key to unlocking our services,” Ann Quillen, the center’s executive director, said while adding that the center was able to make available a half-million dollars worth of free medications and $1 million of care free of cost.

“Our mission, our service and our work to improve lives in the Ohio Valley and our high-quality, compassionate care all happen because of the volunteers and staff,” she added.

The evening also served as an opportunity for the organization to present honors — to Diann Schmitt, who was the center’s first executive director and whose continuing efforts earned her the medical provider of the year recognition; to the Pugliese Charitable Foundation, which was named the community partner of the year; and to Dr. Janet Bischof, who was selected as volunteer of the year.

“The real winners are the many patients who are receiving care at the clinic, and that takes a team effort, everyone working together,” Bischof said.

“Look at what we can accomplish when we work together — hope for individuals in our community who do not have insurance or a primary care provider so that they can receive quality health care.”

Thankfulness, hope and a vision for the future were common threads in this week’s events, including Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting and dedication of the Edison Local School District’s unified athletic complex and renovation project. Funded thanks to voter support of a 2.1-mill emergency levy passed in 2019, the $12 million complex offers facilities for football, baseball, softball, soccer and track all on the site of the high school, which means students no longer have to travel throughout the northern portion of Jefferson County to participate in extracurricular activities.

Basketball, wrestling and volleyball will call the new state-of-the-art 1,500-seat fieldhouse home, while the band, vocal and other programs will be housed in renovated spaces.

Superintendent Bill Beattie and school board President Aaron Richardson said they were thankful for the support of the community and the help of many employees and other people who have worked to make the improvements possible.

On May 14, the largest graduating class in the history of the Franciscan University of Steubenville — the 761 members of the Class of 2022 — heard from Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College, who delivered a humorous and biting commencement address that carried an important message.

“Viktor Frankl said we ought to balance the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor with another statue, the Statue of Responsibility in San Francisco Bay,” he said while referencing the psychiatrist and existential philosopher. “But that would violate our new Ten Commandments, which forbid being only judgmental, repressive, dogmatic, intolerant, uncompassionate, unfeeling, unsensitive, narrow-minded, hyopcritical and fundamentalist — our new obscene “F” word.”

The ceremony, which returned to the inside of the Finnegan Fieldhouse, gave Pivonka the chance to let the graduates know that the school reached the $75 million goal of its Rebuild My Church capital campaign just the day before.

That money will allow for the construction of the Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center on campus, which means the university needed to find a new home for employees who worked in areas such as evagelization. Which brought employees, members of the community and university officials together Tuesday at 114 Brady Circle East, where they are looking for growth to continue.

It was just one more example of the hope, faith and thankfulness that you can find in our community, as well as the willingness to reach out to one another and work together to ensure goals can be achieved.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He is a member of the board of advisers at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.)


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