Mauch Chunk Trust Company honored four outstanding volunteers on Monday night during the 2012 Community Heroes Awards Banquet. Honored were Connie Reinhart of Palmerton, Peter L. Kern of Brodheadsville, Larry Wittig of Andreas and Rose Marie Mikulski of Lansford. The event was held at the Mahoning Valley Country Club.
Patrick H. Reilly, president and CEO of MCT, was both master of ceremonies and presenter of awards.
After Reilly welcomed the room filled with present and past Community Heroes and their friends and family members, MCT board of directors, advisory board and employees, Reilly explained how the Community Heroes program began in 2000 by honoring 13 people from the Carbon County community.
"We honored those who we felt deserved to be called community heroes," he said. "Our definition of a community hero is the individuals in our community who volunteers and dedicates their time and talents to various local charities and organizations and who we believe should be recognized for these efforts"
That philosophy has brought MCT to year 13 and the recognition to 81 people. Reilly noted that 34 past Community Heroes were at this year's banquet.
Reilly said that 10 heroes have passed away over the years and one passed since last year. He noted that Isabelle Wasas Zickler passed away in November last year. She was among the first group honored in 2000.
Reilly said that this year 23 nominations were received and the selection committee had the hard task to choose four to honor this year.
To make this year's award presentations more noteworthy, local dignitaries were on hand to present Senate and House of Representative Citations in addition to the MCT honors. Also on hand to congratulate the awardees were Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein and Tom Gerhard. Nothstein is a former Community Hero.
Kern was recognized for all of the services he has offered to Palmerton Hospital as a board member and also as board chairman, board of trustees and Healthcare Association of Pennsylvania and board of American Lung Association. He also serve on the Pleasant Valley School Board and served on various other boards throughout Palmerton, Lehigh Valley and Chamber of Commerce.
Kern was also presented a Senate Citation from Senator Pat Browne's office by Ellen Kern, chief of staff and from State Rep. Rosemary Brown's office by Lorna O'Farrell, legislative aid.
"Why do people volunteer?" asked Kern. Kern said they may want to learn new things, build their resume and meet new people. He added that all want to make a difference.
"I believe that everyone can be a volunteer and help someone else," said Kern.
Kern donated his $100 award to the Palmerton Area Library.
Mikulski began her volunteer work when she was 10 years old and sang in the church choir. Her biggest volunteer involvement is with the Carbon/Tamaqua Unit of the American Cancer Society, where she helped with the Relay for Life, Daffodil Days, Rafting Against Cancer, TV auction and office volunteer. She also helps with youth organization, Nesquehoning Women's Club and is known as the "haluski lady."
Mikulski said that her involvement with the American Cancer Society may have helped people with cancer be alive today. She noted that she volunteered with three friends and they and she all have survived cancer.
Presentations to Mikulski of a Senate Citation from Senator John Yudichak was made by Bill Richards, office manager; and Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein presented a House of Representatives Citation from State Rep. Doyle Heffley.
"The most important thing you can give is your time," said Mikulski.
Mikulski chose to present her $100 donation to Carbon/Tamaqua Unit of the American Cancer Society.
Reinhard began volunteering in grade school singing in the church choir and then helped teach Vacation Bible School, and uses her talents associated with some of her favorite hobbies - music and photography. She helps in her church and teaches Sunday School and is an active member of the bell choir and is a church pianist. She has used her talents to help the Over 60 Club, the Village of Palmerton and the Red Hat Society.
Presenting Reinhard with a Senate Citation from Senator David Argall was Christine Verdier, chief of staff; and a House of Representatives Citation from State Rep. Doyle Heffley, by Carbon County Commissioner Tom Gerhard."The only thing I can say is when someone asks me to help, I say yes, what do you need," said Reinhard.
Reinhard chose to donate her $100 award to the Palmerton Area Library.
Wittig is a very dedicated volunteer with a concentration on education oriented volunteer activities. He serves on the Tamaqua School Board and State Board of Education. He is a member of the Pa. State Board of Education and was influential in bringing Lehigh Carbon Community College and free college education to Tamaqua through the Morgan Foundation. He continues to serve on many education related boards in the local and state level.
Wittig was presented a Senate Citation from Senator David Argall by Christine Verdier, chief of staff; and a House of Representatives Citation from State Rep. Jerry Knowles by Todd Miller.
Wittig advised those attending to get involved in education.
"Get involved in your school board," said Wittig. "It's very important. Education is such a vulnerable area and children have no choice in the matter and they are the most vulnerable."
His $100 award was presented to the Tamaqua Salvation Army.
Reilly asked those attending the event to continue to nominate individuals deserving of the honor.
The past heroes attending the banquet were, 2000, Randall Smith and Sue Urban; 2001, George Ashman, Sandy Gallagher and Edith Thrash; 2002, John Drury, Rory Koons, Madeline Ligenza and Shirley Radler; 2003, Manuel DaCosta, Jimmy Gallagher, Paul Hackash and Barry Scherer; 2004, Ron Blisard; 2005, Monroe Cressley and Charles Silliman; 2004, Susan Arner, Ann Marie Calabrese, Margaret Miller and Wayne Nothstein; 2007, Larry Arner, Carl Merluzzi and Robert Stevenson; 2008, Gail Maholick and Josephine Rhyder; 2009, Sue Anthony, Todd Miller and Richard Nothstein; 2010, Marveline Costenbader, Jeana DePuy, Randolph Gormley and Francis O'Donnell; and 2011, Otto Barbush, George H. Duell.
The Rev. Greg Laible offered the invocation.