RSVP honors its volunteers

WHEELING – Spring was the theme for the annual appreciation luncheon for members of the Brooke-Hancock-Ohio-Marshall Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, so it was fitting that Christopher McBee, a member of RSVP’s advisory board, compared the work of its hundreds of volunteers to planting a flower.

Speaking before the many gathered at Wheeling Park’s White Palace Thursday, McBee said for a flower to grow, it needs a seed, good soil and sunlight and volunteers to provide the knowledge, experience and effort needed for a community program to flourish.

McBee said as administrator of Brightwood Center Genesis Eldercare, he has seen RSVP members visit Brightwood residents and by simply spending time with them, helped each to feel valued as a person.

RSVP Executive Director Angela Kocher said Jesus Christ showed you could love your neighbors, even those you don’t like, by helping them and RSVP members demonstrate their love for others through their own efforts.

RSVP’s three recipients of Lifetime Presidential Service Awards and the program’s own Donna J. Weaver Award are examples of the many ways members of the program serve their communities.

Given the Presidential Lifetime Service Award for putting more than 4,000 hours of service were Beulah Brown, Maryann Gala, Ruth Sperry and Sonya Metz.

Brown’s service has included quilting 99 lap robes for seniors and veterans at Stone Pear Pavillion in Chester and providing dresses for children in the Philippines, Haiti and American Indian reservations in Oklahoma.

A Follansbee native and East Liverpool resident, she learned of RSVP through her sister, Isabelle Kocher, and said she serves because “that is why we are on the earth, to help other people.”

A Wheeling resident, Gala was born with cerebral palsy but didn’t let that stop her from working full-time at 18 Stone & Thomas stores or helping others through RSVP. Each day Gala calls several seniors to check on them and visits two in her apartment building.

Gala, who learned of RSVP through her friend, Glenda Marie Walker, said, “It’s a wonderful job, volunteering. It makes me feel really good to do that.”

Sperry, a Steubenville native and Weirton resident, has volunteered with RSVP’s Afterschool Adventures program and the Greater Weirton Senior Center, leading young and old in exercise; assisted in serving meals and holding fundraisers at the senior center and lent her time also to Special Olympics.

Kocher noted that ironically Sperry became involved with RSVP when, while playing cards at the senior center, she stepped in for a volunteer who was ill.

The three also were presented awards and citations by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Kristin Cross, field representative of state Auditor Glen B. Gainer III; state Sen. Robert “Rocky” Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling; who also represented state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg; and Lianna Phillips, field representative of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling. Letters of commendation also were sent by U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va.; and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Metz was unable to attend. While using a walker to get around, she has spent many hours preparing meals at the Wellsburg Moose Lodge, both for weekly meetings of the Wellsburg Women of the Moose and for several other groups that meet there on a regular basis; as well as hundreds of funeral dinners.

She learned of RSVP through a booth it manned at a craft festival at Brooke Hills Park.

The recipient of the Donna J. Weaver Award, named for RSVP’s late former director, was Louis Golar, who has been active with the Afterschool Adventures program, from recruiting volunteers to work with the children in it to overseeing its site at Wellsburg Presbyterian Church.

A California transplant, learned of RSVP through the Brooke County Salvation Army, where he also has volunteered in various ways. He recently combined his love of sports and youth by serving as a soccer referee.

Golar said he volunteers because The Bible says he should and because he enjoys it.

Also recognized were the following:

Gold Presidential Award winners (for 500 hours or more of service): Barbara Barnicki, Anna Berardi, Arlie Crow, Laurajean Crow, Virginia Deneen, Catherine DeSantis, Regina Jackson, Jane Klug, Sally Marple, Patricia McCreary, Elizabeth Messerly, Floridea Provenzano, Vicki Tomich, Mark Wagner, Edward Wilkerson and Mary Willey.

Silver Presidential Award winners (for 250 to 499 hours of service): Tom Dight, Rocky Kilonsky, Mickey Massey, Florence McMurray, Janet Polverini, Lorraine Slezak, Sheila Smith, Geraldine Snodgrass and Hank Vincent.

Bronze Presidential Award winners (for 100 to 249 hours of service): Elwood Beihl, Becky Cogar, Frances Dennison, Mario DiPaolo, JoAnn Freeland, Harold Gosney Jr., Karen Hager, David Knuth, Caherine Kompardo-Zeiler, Jim Kowalski, Faye Kutrovac, Helen Moren, Diane Morton, Peggy Nordenger, Donna Phillips, Donna Rolland and Emilia Scaffidi.

Honored for years of service were: Mae Brady, 25 years; Jeannie Duffy, Mary Janeshek, Grace Lenhart, John Patton, Margaret Porchiran, Delores Proakis, Ed Rochinich, Louise Rocini, Phyllis Troia, Rose Ulizio and George Weigel, all 15 years; Betty Bake, Lee Beckner, Marjorie Burgess, Fred Hart, Gloria Hartman, Sylvia Hornak, Howard Kerr, JoAnn Kerr, Vay Mithcell, Virginia Roseberry, Dino Rossi, Nancy Scott, Louis Serafine, Nancy Tarr, Adda Thornton, Roland Ulizio, Pat Wagoner and Jack Yost, all 10 years; and Rita Angalich, Albert Anglin, Irene Arbogast, Joseph Bechtel, Norma Boni, Kenneth Carey, Violet Corso, LaVaughn Coulter, Ralph Cox, Marie Csontos, Connie Davis, Margaret Dunn, Eleanor Elliott, Anna Evans, Nancy Ferns, Ellen Gareis, Kathy Gill, Elizabeth Harper, Stephanie Heagy, William Kocher, Helen Kohen, Donna Lauck, Deborah Minor, Eileen Mrvos, Sondra Nemeth, Richard Oswald, Robert Paglia, Anna Paige, Ed Powell, Arthur Quattrocchi, Edith Ralston, Kelly Reasbeck, Judith Riggs, Mary Robbins, Karen Santoro, Judy Sargus, Sally Starko, Jackie Stiles, Gerry Taibi, Cathy Torbett, Peg White, Elizabeth Williamson, Mabel Winesburg and Raymond Young, all five years.