Volunteers Recognized for their Dedication to Ending Hunger Here at Home

Each year the Westmoreland County Food Bank recognizes its core of nearly 7,000 volunteers for all of the work that they accomplish in assisting the Food Bank in ending hunger here at home.  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.  Pat Blahovec was recognized as Volunteer of the Year and The Kiski School as Volunteer Group of the Year. A special Appreciation Award was given to Martha Valore through the Senior Employment Program.  The event was held at the Westmoreland County Food Bank warehouse in Delmont.  The keynote speaker was Roland “Bud” Mertz, Director of Public Safety in Westmoreland County. Gia Russa provided the meal and West Penn Power was a key sponsor.

Pat Blahovec from Harrison City, is a recently retired Penn Trafford High School nurse, who also served as advisor for the school’s Community Action Program.  Over the past seven years, she coordinated and engaged students to serve their community, through food bank activities, which included Jeannette Hi-Rise monthly food distributions, Operation Fresh Express sponsorship and CSFP Senior Food Box packings.  Pat stated that, “She hoped students would see the importance of volunteering and that it wasn’t always all about them.”  She continues to serve in a leadership role at the Jeannette Hi-Rise distribution and recruits former Penn Trafford alumni and retirees and even her husband, Jim of 40 years to help. She was a key player in implementing the “Backpacks to Go” program in the Penn Trafford School District. She is active at St. Barbara’s Church in Harrison City, Sage’s Army and the Drug Awareness Committee of the Norwin Elks.

Headmaster Chris Brueningsen of The Kiski School accepted their award. The Kiski School instills human values and leadership into students, values which will lead to the development of men who have the capacity for empathy, who are optimistic, and who have the courage to stand up for what is right. The students have been helping over 10 years now with many activities at the food bank, including:  Operation Fresh Express, CSFP Food Box Packings, Community Food Drives, Warehouse Sorting and Repacking. Also in attendance, was Sandy Acquard, the Director of Student Activities, who schedules and oversees their students, who are hardworking and held to a high standard.

Martha Valore  was surprised to be recognized with a special “Appreciation Award” Martha from Slickville is 84 years old and has worked in our office for 4 years now, helping with data entry, filing, copying and mailings.  She is leaving the food bank in June 2017.  She has been a participant in the Senior Employment Program based out of Westmoreland County Community College. The program, gives seniors the opportunity to get hands on work experience.  We will miss Martha’s quick wit and her willingness to do just about anything without complaining.  We wish her the best.