United Way envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives, and the organization has not forgotten about those in our community that best help to achieve that goal.
Tuesday night at the Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center, 16 individuals who best exemplify the goals of the United Way through volunteerism were honored for their hard work and dedication in the community.
Led by Tory Irgang, executive director for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, each volunteer was honored by their individual agency with a short speech, as well as a small token of appreciation from the United Way.
Alex Caldwell of Chautauqua Striders of Chautauqua Striders presents Spencer Drake with an award
To begin the ceremony, Mayor Sam Teresi began by outlining why he believes each volunteer serves a special purpose in the community.
"This is my favorite event of the year," said Teresi. "We take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate everything that is good and right about this community. (These volunteers) are the fabric of this community. These people love and care about this place and make it work every single day. ... At the city government level we have the opportunity, whether it be through our police department, our fire department, our housing office all of our various departments, to partner with (the United Way) and quite frankly, we see ourselves as an extension of what you're doing to make this a wonderful city every single day."
Upon conclusion of Teresi's speech, agencies were called to the front of the renaissance center in alphabetical order to honor their volunteers of the year.
Tory Irgang, executive director for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County speaks during Wednesday’s ceremony.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Agencies and volunteers of the year include: Allegheny Highlands Boy Scouts, Eric Johnson; American Red Cross, Sue Shearer; Boys and Girls Club of Jamestown, Veronica Mistretta; Chautauqua Adult Day Care, Susan Helwig; Chautauqua Blind Association, Jeanne Anderson; Chautauqua County RSVP, Mary Moore; Chautauqua Striders, Spencer Drake; Court Appointed Special Advocates, Anne Kohl; Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Kathy Burch; Girl Scouts of Southwestern New York, Paula Pickett; Joint Neighborhood Project, Richard Seldon; Meals on Wheels, Kim Johnson; YMCA, Holly Hannon; YWCA, Blanche Robbins; United Way, Carl Scarpino and Ron Kohl.
Irgang provided opening and closing remarks for the ceremony.
"Our annual volunteer of the year celebration recognizes one volunteer nominated by each of our agencies," said Irgang. "This year we recognized 14 different people (from affiliated agencies) and then two of our own volunteers. They really do a lot of work that is unpaid work and non-profit agencies could never afford to high the staff to do what all of these volunteers do. (Even if they could) it wouldn't be the same because volunteers do it with such a heart. We really look at this event to spotlight people who hate to be in the spotlight and it's a joy for us to plan."
Though each agency represented at the ceremony is thankful for all the work done by their volunteers, the need for new volunteers never stops.
"(If people are interested in volunteering) the first thing they should do is call United Way at 483-1561 or they can go to our website (www.uwayscc.org)," said Irgang. "We want to talk to anyone who is interested in finding a volunteer opportunity. We will get them in contact with a number of agencies so they can best decide what kind of volunteer work they would like to do. (Potential volunteers) should reach out to the United Way and that's a part of our mission in the community. It's a role we're really pleased to play."