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Eighteen volunteers from 13 groups were praised at the awards ceremony.



Published: Tue, April 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Eighteen volunteers from 13 groups were praised at the awards ceremony.

YOUNGSTOWN -- When Betty Brindiar of Operation Blessing in Canfield was asked to nominate an individual for the National Volunteer Week awards ceremony, she had a difficult time.

"I couldn't chose one over the other," Betty said of her nominees. "Several have been with Operation Blessing since it began 19 years ago."

Instead of nominating one person -- or even two -- Betty nominated six individuals that she insists Operation Blessing could not function without.

"If I ask them to do anything, they are always there to help," Betty said.

The men carry cases of food that arrive to be distributed to those in need, she said. They also help Operation Blessing recipients carry bags of food to their cars.

Les Cornell, Jim Duffett, Will Funkhouser, Ray Grope, Bob Kercher and John Wolboldt were honored Monday evening at an awards ceremony at Antone's Banquet Centre in Boardman, an event sponsored by Volunteer Services Agency Inc. in cooperation with Ohio Edison through the First Energy Foundation.

The theme for the evening was "Inspire By Example!" with Jay Williams, director of Youngstown's Community Development Agency, giving the keynote address titled "The Merits of a Collective Community Vision and the Value of Volunteers."

Frank Marzullo, WFMJ morning personality, emceed the event.

The beginning

National Volunteer Week began in 1974, when President Nixon signed an executive order establishing an annual celebration of volunteering. Every president since has signed a proclamation promoting the week. National Volunteer Week is sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network.

Others honored at Monday's awards ceremony were:

U Struthers Interact Club: Tom Barringer .

U Butler Institute of American Art Docents: Carole O'Brien.

U United Way Youngstown/Mahoning Valley: Ken Miller from Trumbull Industries.

U American Red Cross: Tom Will.

U YWCA of Warren: Gussie Reed.

U Volney Rogers Youth for Justice: Penelope Wells.

U Smith Township Police Department: Ralph Jerry Ritchie.

U Animal Charity: Amanda Ziegler.

U Salvation Army: William Novak.

U Park Vista: Helen Hornish.

U Hospice of the Valley: Pam Genos.

U Mahoning County CASA/GAL: Renee Battafarano.




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