By Konstantine Fekos
Local residents Tom Chalmers and Dwight Haas exemplify what community service is all about, according to members of the United Way of Western Crawford County, who saw fit to honor them at the organization’s annual donor celebration, held at Sprague Farm & Brew Works in Venango on Saturday afternoon.
Executive Director Amy Woods presented Chalmers with the newly-created Dwight Haas Volunteer of the Year Award for going “beyond the call of duty” in his dedication to the Community Improvement Center, which coordinates local volunteer efforts, and numerous other service organizations.
“I’m just one of many that could’ve received this award,” said Chalmers, also a prominent Make A Difference Day volunteer. “I’m proud to receive it. It inspires you to do more.”
Haas was equally honored to have the award named after him.
United Way officials chose Haas to represent the award based on his many service accomplishments, including 25 years as a United Way director and his direct involvement in establishing the Meadville Area Free Clinic, Hospice of Crawford County and more.
The award will be given annually to community members who exemplify and carry on his commitment to public service, Woods said.
“It’s really a surprise; they shouldn’t do this to an old man,” Haas laughed. “I’m really pleased.”
Both men were given commemorative plaques, naming them each a “true inspiration” for their efforts, as well as engraved Channellock pliers and United Way jackets.
Woods thanked them on behalf of the United Way for their tremendous impact on the community.
The United Way also recognized Women’s Services Inc. of Crawford County as Agency of the Year for its exceptional efforts with its prevention education program, according to Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, chair of the United Way fund distribution committee.
The program reportedly generates safety awareness for different age levels in local schools and covers topics including interaction with strangers and date rape, Mangilo-Bittner added.
“We just endeavor to be a good partner in this community,” said Bruce Harlan, executive director of Women’s Services, who accepted the award on behalf of his organization. “I think all United Way partner agencies compliment one another. We get along and work together.”
Togetherness in community service is a clear theme for the annual donor celebration, essentially the United Way’s way of saying thanks to local residents who contributed to the apparent success of the 2012-13 Annual Campaign.
The United Way exceeded its annual goal for the second year in a row, collecting over $338,000 for its partner agencies, according to Woods.
About 100 donors and United Way supporters turned out for the celebration, she said.
“It’s a great thing to do for people who have donated,” said Orealia Gordon of the United Way. “It shows people how much we appreciate what they do and lets them know they’re more than just a dollar sign.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.