Good Life

Community volunteers honored for service

Al Jones
Al Jones

Twenty-seven volunteers from local agencies will be honored Tuesday during the 45th annual Rose Cologne Volunteer Recognition Dinner at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. Named in honor of the first recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award, the dinner is hosted by the Centre County Council for Human Services and will pay tribute to those in the community who work to further the missions of CCCHS’ member agencies.

All of the agencies of the CCCHS nominated at least one volunteer, who are featured below.

Al Jones

Agency: Centre Helps

Length of service: 20-plus years

Roles: Board member and board officer.

Why do you volunteer: “Centre Helps’ structure of highly trained, committed volunteers who participate in consensus management is pretty unusual, but it has worked very well. I enjoy interaction with our volunteers and value the many ways our agency supports our community.”

Connie Schroeder

Agency: Mid-State Literacy Council Inc.

Length of service: About 10 years

Roles: Served multiple terms on the board of directors; found new event sponsors, organized and planned events; worked on newsletter development and communication — built connections with other organizations.

Why do you volunteer: “Volunteering with Mid-State Literacy Council gives me an opportunity to help a grassroots organization that meets a need — providing basic literacy and English language instruction for those in our community who really need the help. It is rewarding to see students gain skills that help them become more self-sufficient.”

Gina Mulfinger

Agency: Housing Transitions

Length of service: 9 months

Roles: Answering/directing calls, assisting with administrative and organizing tasks as needed.

Why do you volunteer: “When I read about the work Housing Transitions does and its philosophy, I immediately knew I wanted to get involved. They provide so many critical services for Centre County. It’s truly been a privilege to assist their skilled and compassionate staff as they help our community members meet their goals.”

Kylie McAvoy

Agency: Child Development and Family Council of Centre County Inc.

Length of service: 3 months

Roles: Spends 40 hours a week in the infant room; responsible for the daily care of the infants enrolled in the program as well as building relationships with their families; develops curriculum for the classroom and information for parents pertaining to infant development.

Why do you volunteer: “I chose to volunteer with Discovery because when I walked through the doors, I felt comfortable and welcomed. I knew I was in a place where my values align with the organization’s. I am grateful to volunteer with such compassionate individuals who work to better the lives of children every day.”

Michaelene Franzetta

Agency: Centre County Women’s Resource Center

Length of service: 2  1/2 years

Roles: Crisis hotline advocate; sexual assault responder at the hospital; support group co-facilitator; office help.

Why do you volunteer: “Happy Valley isn’t always so happy when its residents include victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Knowing this and being fortunate enough to retire early, I wanted to spend my post-retirement years volunteering for an organization that aids and empowers those residents. I most definitely found that with the CCWRC.”

Arian Zarkower

Agency: Centre Volunteers in Medicine

Length of service: 14 years

Roles: Volunteer in the Medication Assistance Program.

Why do you volunteer: “After retiring from my professional work, I looked for things to do to support my community. Helping at Centre Volunteers in Medicine was one of those things, and I was glad to be of some use through the years.”

Betsy Taylor

Agency: The Village at Penn State

Length of service: 6 years

Roles: Chair of Village Estate Sales; overseer of welcome table; assists with newcomer’s meet and greet functions; member of activities committee; chair of Village knitting group; member of decorating committee/landscape committee for VPS building campaign.

Why do you volunteer: “I have tried to follow the advice of Tom Dooley, former missionary in Laos in the ’70s: Lose yourself in something greater than self.”

Chris Igo

Agency: Penn State Extension — Centre County

Length of service: 17 years

Roles: Master Gardener; co-chair of the Ag Progress Days Demonstration Garden; member of the Training and Home Gardening School committees; board member for 9 years, currently as president.

Why do you volunteer: “Why would I not want to work side by side (with) the awesome staff, educators and fellow volunteers who are so passionate about sharing the mission of Penn State Extension? It is an honor to represent the individuals who provide unbiased, research-based information to the residents of Centre County.”

Diane Toyos

Agency: Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania

Length of service: 10 years

Roles: Troop leader; community cookie manager; board delegate; co-leader to her daughter’s troop; member of the Long Range Property Planning Committee and co-manager of her local Girl Scout community.

Why do you volunteer: “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!”

Elijah Calkins

Agency: Schlow Centre Region Library

Length of service: 2 years

Roles: Member/lead for Schlow Comics Club; organizes, mends and helps maintain graphic novel section of the library; BookFest volunteer and worker.

Why do you volunteer: “I chose Schlow not just because it was where comics club had been rooted before me, but because it’s the type of welcome environment that allows it to grow and bloom.”

George Khoury

Agency: Centre County Housing and Land Trust

Length of service: 10 years

Roles: Founding member of CCHLT board of directors and served on the board of directors from 2007-2016; served in various roles such as board president, board secretary and project development committee chair (2016, oversaw construction of two new homes); currently serves on Project Development Committee.

Why do you volunteer: “I became concerned about affordable housing because I know of so many folks who would like to put down roots in our community but can’t afford to. Volunteering through the Centre County Housing and Land Trust gives me the opportunity to make a difference.”

Jack Schreck

Agency: State College Community Land Trust

Length of service: 6 years

Roles: Organizing, fundraising for, marketing and working events such as the 2014 Home Stage decorator showcase and this summer’s partnership with the State College Spikes; renovating Land Trust houses for sale in tasks such as sanding floors and painting.

Why do you volunteer: “I’ve always been involved in the communities where I lived such as Columbia, Md., and State College. We love living in the borough. You’ve got everything right here. With so many rentals, I like bringing families and young graduates — permanency and vitality — back to the community.”

Jen Snyder

Agency: Tides Inc.

Length of service: 5 years

Roles: Facilitates the adult general loss group (but is always flexible to be placed elsewhere, if needed); serves pizza/salad to families on Tides nights; always offers her time to any outside Tides’ events.

Why do you volunteer: “Having lost my mom to breast cancer I knew the importance of support throughout the grief process. Hearing about Tides and the mission of serving children and their families after experiencing a loss I knew this was a group I wanted to be a part of to give back.”

Karry Carr

Agency: Interfaith Human Services

Length of service: 5 years

Roles: Serves on the IHS board of directors and the executive committee as the secretary; volunteered as chair of communications committee; organized a silent auction fundraiser that benefited IHS; rang bells for IHS’s annual wishing well campaign.

Why do you volunteer: “I know that we’re (IHS) helping people. I’m rewarded by helping people.”

Kat Snowe

Agency: State College Food Bank

Length of service: 6 years

Roles: Secretary, board of directors.

Why do you volunteer: “I have always thought that if you could volunteer, then you should volunteer, so when the opportunity came along to work with the Food Bank, I knew it was right for me. Hunger is a need to which everyone can relate, so I knew my small contribution of time and talent would be put to use for a very worthy cause.”

Linda Lorich

Agency: Youth Service Bureau

Length of service: 4 years

Roles: Visits YSB’s girls group home each week to do arts and crafts.

Why do you volunteer: “I enjoy working with the girls and teaching them. I hope they will find joy in making new things.”

Lisa Groves

Agency: Bridge of Hope

Length of service: 1 year

Roles: Connects the participants of the program with various other agencies and resources; works on fundraising events and provides development connections; lends a helping hand in any area that is needed.

Why do you volunteer: “It is hard enough to raise children with the help of your spouse, so I want to reach out and help those single mothers in our community succeed in raising their children. It is expensive to provide children with clothes as they grow and have enough money to cover the necessities. Most families face a difficult time at some point along the way. I support Bridge of Hope because they help ‘bridge’ that gap. I agree with teaching budgeting, obtaining an affordable place of shelter and connecting people with every support out there that is available.”

Mark Frailey

Agency: Pennsylvania Prison Society Centre County Chapter

Length of service: 10 years

Roles: Member of the Prison Society since 2007, and for the last three years has served as the co-convener of the local chapter. He has initiated countless new Prison Society Official Visitors to the practice of visiting people in our local jail and nearby state prisons. He also serves on the Centre County Re-Entry Coalition and the local Criminal Justice Advisory Board. He also helped spearhead the campaign to “Ban the Box” for Centre County government employees. Frailey has been especially concerned with the impact of prison on a prisoners’ families and has been a strong advocate for parents in our local jail to be able to have face-to-face (or contact) visits with their children.

Why do you volunteer: “It’s an honor to volunteer with the Pennsylvania Prison Society because of its great history and mission. Working with PPS allows me to advocate for inmates and their families, to assist inmates re-entering our community and to work toward a better criminal justice system.”

Michael Williams

Agency: AAUW State College Branch

Length of service: 5 years

Roles: Helps in any way he can with the book sale operation; lifts the heavy boxes and bins; organizes the space to maximize the efficient use of the facility.

Why do you volunteer: “Originally I came to get physical exercise while helping the AAUW book sale. Now along with the exercise I enjoy the camaraderie and friendship.”

Nancy Decker

Agency: Foxdale Village

Length of service: 1  1/2 years

Roles: Provides companionship/assistance to residents of nursing facility — reads aloud to residents, assists with errands; attends sing-a-long programs, assists residents with song sheets, supports others in singing and engaging in programming.

Why do you volunteer: “My motivation to volunteer started when I met older people who had no family and few visitors. No matter how troubled I feel, it always makes me feel better to bring some cheer and a smile to someone else. It can be through sharing a song, reading or just listening.”

Patty Condo

Agency: CentrePeace Inc.

Length of service: 10 years

Roles: Leads and works alongside a team of volunteers who unpack, sort, clean, price and display donations received from the community.

Why do you volunteer: “CentrePeace is a place of learning, not only for the trainees, but also for the volunteers. I enjoy the cleaning and displaying of the generous donations from our community, but that is only part of the work. The best part is interacting with the trainees to give them hope for a future of success.”

Sally McCartney

Agency: Faith Centre Food Bank

Length of service: 12 years

Roles: Coordinates volunteers and end-of-month reports; places order/truck deliveries; interacts with clients; organizes inventory, monthly menus and storage control.

Why do you volunteer: “I retired early and needed something to fill my time. My church was instrumental in the start of Faith Centre and I had helped at the food bank. It was a natural transition.”

Sharon Ambrose

Agency: State College Area Meals on Wheels

Length of service: 9 years

Roles: Joined the board of directors in 2008; served as head cook and executive director; accepted the board leadership roles of assistant treasurer and assistant coordinator for the live and silent auction portions of the annual fundraiser for SCMOW; serves as the SCMOW Wednesday Day coordinator for volunteers; delivers meals as a substitute delivery or visiting volunteer as needed.

Why do you volunteer: “Given that I was able to retire at an early age, I decided that volunteerism would be my second career.”

Shirley Wells

Agency: Centre Crest

Length of service: 13 years

Roles: Beauty parlor transport; gift shop sales; cookbook sales; Comfort and Love volunteer; staff luncheon server; Christmas store salesperson.

Why do you volunteer: “I love working with the residents. Christmas time is special at Centre Crest with ReCreation and the Christmas Store — that is my favorite time of the year here to help make the residents’ lives happy.”

Susan DelPonte

Agency: Centre County Office of Aging

Length of service: 8 years

Roles: Pen Pal with Bald Eagle Area School District; assists with the Centre County Senior Center Coalition, flu shot clinics, Toys for Tots, Centre County Super Fair, the VITA program and assorted special projects; answers phones and greets the public with her smile.

Why do you volunteer: “Volunteering is a natural progression of my helping people from my job at Penn State to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at the Centre County Office of Aging. I think people can benefit from my time; why not give it?”

Theresa Dvorksy

Agency: Pregnancy Resource Clinic

Length of service: 3 years

Roles: Client advocate, donor and fundraiser.

Why do you volunteer: “I chose to volunteer at Pregnancy Resource Clinic because my passion in serving Christ is to see young people make good life decisions that will prosper them and not harm them, and to see their lives as precious and eternal.”

William Asbury

Agency: SCORE Central Pennsylvania Chapter 618

Length of service: 13 years

Roles: Served as chapter chair, vice chair, secretary/treasurer; mentored more than 100 clients; led workshops on starting new business; served as liaison to CBICC; attended volunteer events representing the chapter.

Why do you volunteer: “I volunteer for SCORE because I was asked by people I trust. The reason I stay is my interest in learning new things and having a friendly group of people to connect with at least monthly. My work with the SCORE clients is challenging and enjoyable.”

Mount Nittany Health

Agency: Mount Nittany Health will recognize its hundreds of volunteers during the dinner.

“With a mission to make people healthier, Mount Nittany Health realizes that our mission would be harder to achieve without the dedication of our volunteers. In 2016, 621 active volunteers contributed 60,037 hours of service to the patients at Mount Nittany Health. Each one of our volunteers is unique, representing a variety of ages and ethnicities. Whether they are helping a patient get to his or her destination, or striking up a friendly conversation, our volunteers help fulfill our mission of making people healthier every day. From everyone at the Mount Nittany family, thank you to all of our volunteers for making a difference in the lives of our patients.”