MONTGOMERY — The husband and wife team of Ethna and Terry O’Haver received the Volunteer of the Year award Monday at the Retired Senior Volunteer Center’s 39th Annual Recognition Banquet at the Gasthof Amish Restaurant.
The O’Havers spend countless hours working at the St. Vincent DePaul Store in Washington, where Ethna is the manager and Terry does anything that’s needed, according to RSVP Director Kim Herbertz. Proceeds from merchandise sales at the store help people in need with food, clothing and shelter.
“Between the two of them, they have given more than 2,300 hours of service to St. Vincent’s in the last year, impacting hundreds of people,” said Betty Huelsman, RSVP board president, when she announced this year’s winner(s). “Income from the store helps those in Daviess County who might need it. The mission of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul is to provide services to the poor.”
But the O’Havers have been volunteering their time for many years, according to Huelsman, starting when their five children were young. They served as Scout leaders and school volunteers, she said.
The Volunteer of the Year is selected by the RSVP Board of Directors, which sees only an anonymous description of each candidate’s contributions and impact on the community. The selection remains secret to all but a couple people until it’s announced at the banquet.
“It is a duty that we all take very seriously,” Huelsman said.
RSVP volunteers work in 54 different nonprofit agencies and organizations, performing more than 150 types of activities, giving freely of their time and talents to make cities and towns in Daviess and Martin counties better places to live. In 2012, 371 volunteers gave 85,518 hours of service valued at more than $1.5 million to their communities.
Highlights of the past year include an emphasis on environmental stewardship, services to the economically disadvantaged, and health care support. In May, RSVP volunteers collected hundreds of pounds of recyclables at an energy fair. In June, they participated in Washington’s “Clean Sweep” project, helping collect 175 bags of trash from city streets and common areas.
Volunteers also provide health care support at Daviess Community Hospital, area nursing facilities, vision screening programs, the Daviess County Health Department, and the American Red Cross. In addition, they work with help lines, food pantries and thrift stores.
Washington Mayor Joe Wellman and Loogootee Mayor Noel Harty both spoke briefly at the banquet, thanking the volunteers for their time and their selfless work. Wellman quoted 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer on the value of doing things for which you don’t get paid. Schweitzer thought there was no higher religion than human service.
“Some people think that when you retire you just sit around and do nothing,” Wellman said. “RSVP is proof that just isn’t true.”
Harty also commented on the value of volunteerism and expressed his gratitude for volunteer service in Martin County.
“Twenty-five to 30 organizations in Martin County are strictly volunteer,” Harty said, explaining that even groups like the Loogootee Board of Public Works and Safety are comprised of unpaid, volunteer positions. “It’s because of you guys we’re able to get so much done.”
Service year pins and Gold Level service awards, for those volunteering 500 hours or more for the year, also were presented at the banquet.
Gold Level award recipients in Daviess County were: Judi Alexander-Hill, Caroline Armes, Lisa Bland, Tatsuyo Bovee. Judy Brustkern, Betty Cannon, Margaret Clauss, JoAnne DeVries, Rita Guy, Nancy Haag, Charlene Johnson, Pam Johnson, P.K. Kane, Joe Kilps, Susanne Kinnett, Ruby Miller, Rae Ann Mills, Lydia Mosbach, Rex Myers, Ethna O’Haver, Terry O’Haver, Cheryle Ritchey, Lois Schnarr, Sylvia Schnarr, Emma Silcock, Jan Steimel, Sandra Traylor, Pat Trowbridge and Charles Wilkinson.
Martin County Gold Level award recipients were: Faryl Armstrong, Linda Bennett, Lydia Graber, Don Greene, Martha Greene, MarCella Hardwick, Elaine Renoire and Shirley Zehr.
Others reaching the Gold Level achievement who were unable to attend the banquet were: John Chapman, Barbara Fish, Beth Franklin, Sue Hayes, Barbara Martin, Jerry McDonald, Dianna Overall, Daniel Renneker, Arlene Sobecki, Sarah Spaulding, Charles Wickman and Edna Wildman.
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