A mastermind behind Make A Difference Day and a tireless servant who has served as Santa Claus for countless less fortunate children have been honored with significant community service awards.
The Crawford County Community Council Inc. recently presented the Elmer M. Nelson Awards for Excellence to Jamie Williams and Jack Thompson at its annual February meeting. These awards are presented once each year by the council to individuals who have distinguished themselves within a field of social service by providing significant assistance to the Crawford County community. One award is granted to an employee of a service agency, and the other award to an unpaid volunteer.
The winners receive a plaque of recognition. Those nominated are judged on qualifications such as outstanding service performed; the diversity and/or intensity of involvement; leadership shown; the quality and quantity of service and its scope; and/or in what ways the service was above and beyond the normal requirements of the job or volunteer assignment.
This year the award for the Professional of the Year who distinguished herself as part of a social service agency went to Williams, the associate director of community service and service learning at Allegheny College. At the college, she also serves as the Bonner Program coordinator and works with ACCEL (Allegheny College Center for Experimental Learning). She is also a member of the CHAPS Advisory Board.
She has taken a leading role in Make A Difference Day by taking on the Herculean and often sensitive task of matching more than 1,000 volunteers with more than 100 projects. For this she has earned the undying appreciation of many and the unofficial title of “master matcher.”
Jack Thompson, who apparently has a habit of not going by his given first name, which is Wesley, was named volunteer of the year. He distinguished himself by providing significant assistance to the Crawford County community for 40 years through the Sertoma Club by purchasing wheelchairs and other medical equipment for those in need and through the club by coordinating the Jimmy Moore Fund Christmas Party for many years. He and his tireless band of Sertomans have cooked and served and unending parade of hot dogs and a billion miles of spaghetti dinners in their always-successful annual quest to ensure that not a single local child goes without a Christmas present.
Thompson is also the key mover, through his dogged lobbying, behind saving and substantially improving the Lincoln Avenue softball complex and playground, a facility that has served generations of residents while also boosting the local economy by attracting regional tournaments.
The first Crawford County Community Council Awards of Excellence were presented September 13, 1991, to Elmer Nelson as Professional of the Year and Joy Link, Volunteer of the Year. The awards were renamed the Elmer M. Nelson Awards of Excellence in 2010 in honor of Nelson, who helped to develop the Community Council and was a long-time member.
The Crawford County Community Council is made up of members from the various human service agencies and interested individuals in Crawford County who meet once a month in an effort to share information and support.
n More information on the Crawford County Community Council: Call 333-5798.