Making our lives better

There are some times when it’s easy to overlook the positive things that are happening in our area.

In case you have any doubts, all you have had to do is look at a couple of the recent community pages in our newspaper.

On Tuesday, for instance, Community Editor Janice Kiaski offered a look back at this year’s United Way of Jefferson County recognition dinner.

This year’s dinner was held March 13 in the Hellenic Hall at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Fourth Street in Steubenville. It offered an opportunity for old friends to touch base with one another, new friends to be made and, even more important, a chance to thank everyone who made this year’s fundraising efforts a success.

United Way volunteers raised $451,693.37 during the recently completed campaign, easily exceeding the goal of $440,000. Anthony Mougianis of Apollo Pro Cleaning served as chair, his second-straight term in that post. His efforts, combined with the work of Executive Director Beth Rupert-Warren and countless volunteers, made that success possible.

It also set the bar high for incoming chair Cory Wingett, a financial adviser with Edward Jones.

As Rupert-Warren is fond of reminding everyone who attends a United Way event, the fundraising success enjoyed by the United Way is another example of “Unity in the Community.”

On Thursday, our community page featured a review of the Dueling Pianos event that was held to benefit the Jefferson County Humane Society.

That event, which was held March 14 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville, raises money that allows the local humane society to help many neglected or homeless animals, Sally Wehr, its president, reminds us.

This marked the third year of the Dueling Piano fundraiser, and it also was the third time the event was sold out.

It was another example of positive things happening in our area.

Taken together, these events, held on consecutive nights, help put to rest a complaint commonly heard on the streets – there’s never anything to do in this town.

The fact is, there’s more to do in our community than some of us ever realize.

A significant number of those events are designed to improve the quality of life in our region. An example is the Herald-Star, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series. The series, which opened with former CIA Agent Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin in November 2012, and continued with Tony Mendez of “Argo” fame and his wife, Jonna, last April, will continue April 3 when Capt. Richard Phillips comes to town.

Phillips, who was held captive in a small lifeboat by Somali pirates for five days in April 2009 before being rescued by Navy SEALs, will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. that day in the Steubenville High School auditorium. The cost of a reserved seat ticket to hear his presentation is $20.

Some might say that’s too costly, but when you look at what a ticket costs to see similar presentations in bigger cities, it’s actually quite a bargain. If you need an example, you need only look to Thursday night, when Phillips spoke at the Traffic Club of Pittsburgh’s 112th-annual dinner. The price of a ticket to that event, which was held at the Wyndham Grand, was $150 per plate.

Tickets to see Phillips in Steubenville can be purchased by contacting the Herald-Star at (740) 283-4711 or the Chamber (740) at 282-6226. Copies of his book, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea,” which was the inspiration for the film “Captain Phillips,” can be purchased for $12 plus tax by contacting the newspaper or the chamber.

The speaker series makes for a good evening out and offers the chance to learn about an event from the person who actually experienced it. It’s something residents of our area can be proud of.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)