Volunteers Recognized for their Dedication to Ending Hunger Here at Home
Each year, the Westmoreland County Food Bank recognizes its core of over 7,000 volunteers for all of the work that they accomplish in assisting the Food Bank during a luncheon which is held in the Westmoreland County Food Bank Warehouse. In 2014, volunteers donated 102,369 hours to the Westmoreland County Food Bank (WCFB). “That is the equivalent of 48 additional staff,” said Kris Douglas, WCFB Chief Executive Officer. “That is just amazing to me and I am in awe of their generosity, which is a true example of selfless giving.”
Volunteer Group of the Year – Murrysville Lions
L-R are Kris Douglas (WCFB CEO), Paul Mueller, Marcia Sayre, Don Sayre, Paul Gernhardt and John Jacoby.
Volunteer and Food Drive Coordinator, Louise Wilhelm affirmed, “whereas, all of our volunteers are priceless, we take the time to recognize a stand out individual and group that have shown exemplary service to our neighbors in need.” This year’s honorees included Terrance and Yvonne Blair as Volunteer of the Year and the Murrysville Lions as Volunteer Group of the Year.
Every once in a while, volunteers come along that just give it their all, whenever there is a need they come forward and offer their help. This year’s award went to a couple who seems to have it all together! “Nothing seems to rattle them and they are always smiling and spreading cheer wherever they go” said Michelle Heller, WCFB Director of Programs, who presented this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
The Blair’s have been volunteering for at least seven years, helping at St. Agnes/St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Food Pantry monthly, in addition to helping at different Operation Fresh Express distributions. They have helped year after year with food drives at Walmart and Giant Eagles, sometimes staying to help load the food on the trucks. On Wednesday mornings, the food bank has come to depend on one of them to be at the warehouse bright and early to pack frozen meat products, once again, always with a smile.
Mrs. Heller lamented, “About a year ago, I was in need of someone to organize and distribute food monthly at a hi-rise. Terry and Yvonne came forward to fill the large void left by those who had done it before.” For always going above and beyond and helping with the food bank’s mission of enabling all Westmoreland County residents who are hungry or at risk of hunger to have ready access to food, the staff of the food bank unanimously voted Terry and Yvonne Blair to receive the volunteer of the year award.
The Murrysville Lions Club has been a huge supporter of the food bank for eleven years. WCFB have come to count on them consistently to help not only at the warehouse in Delmont with CSFP Senior Food Box packing, but also with food drives, and at Mother of Sorrows food pantry in Murrysville.
“This fine group of men and women make a true impact on their community,” said Mrs. Wilhelm. “They not only help the food bank, but other human service agencies in the county and run many fundraisers, raising over a quarter of a million dollars.”
Volunteer of the Year – Terrance and Yvonne Blair
L-R are Kris Douglas (WCFB CEO), Yvonne Blair, Terrance Blair, Michelle Heller (WCFB Director of Programs), Louise Wilhelm (WCFB Volunteer & Food Drive Coordinator)
Mrs. Wilhelm shared a story that the Director of Operations came to her about getting some volunteers to help clear a hillside behind their warehouse. Dave Parsonage, a Murrysville Lion, came in full gear with his chainsaw, ready to clear the hillside. Meanwhile, the other Lions were packing food in the warehouse. He worked so hard for half a day to cut down the low hanging branches and brush. “We were astounded that one volunteer was able to accomplish so much in such a short time,” stated Wilhelm. “Then there was Marcia Sayre, who served on our Volunteer Board for many years, offering to help with whatever was needed. She is the ‘go-to’ person to recruit help for all the volunteer activities. They always come through for those in need.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s recognition banquet was Tay Waltenbaugh, Chief Executive Officer of Westmoreland Community Action. Tay is a family man in more ways than one. He not only has a family of his own, but also has created a family atmosphere at the Westmoreland Community Action. Since 1990, he has managed and built a go-to organization, addressing the needs of the community. He is known throughout the county as an innovative and strong leader. Currently, Westmoreland Community Action sponsors a monthly food pantry, united, our organizations help individuals, single parents, families, and seniors move forward in their lives. Mr. Waltenbaugh spoke about the importance of volunteers in our community and the impact they make on the lives of thousands of families throughout Westmoreland County.
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