The Resource Center presented its Volunteer of the Year Award and recognized a hard-working employee during a luncheon held as part of the agency’s 32nd annual Ability Awareness Awards.
The Elmer Muench Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Peter Carlo of Jamestown. Because of the pandemic, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for people to volunteer at The Resource Center. But the pandemic hasn’t stopped Carlo and his one-man mission of spreading the word about TRC.
The Korean War veteran loves his hometown and works hard to improve the community. He has donated more than 300 American flags to local organizations. He also has a fondness for The Resource Center, as his daughters both worked for TRC. Carlo has been volunteering at The Resource Center for many years, and photos from the 1980s show him and his wife of 67 years, Mary Ann, dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus to entertain people with disabilities at TRC. Carlo also has helped to organize TRC’s annual Veterans Day events.
He believes the community at large doesn’t know enough about The Resource Center, and he has taken it upon himself to change that. For the past few years, everywhere Carlo goes – restaurants, veterans events, medical appointments, political gatherings, or ceremonies at which he donates American flags – he carries with him a supply of writing pens that have The Resource Center’s name on them. Outgoing and eager to meet folks he doesn’t know, Carlo often uses the pens to strike up a conversation and ask people if they’re familiar with TRC.
True to form, after accepting his award, Carlo began distributing pens to those in attendance. “This is what it’s all about: tell the people what The Resource Center is all about,” he said. “I want them to know that they’re here in Jamestown, they’re here to help you. But they can’t help you if you don’t ask for help.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Elmer Muench, a longtime volunteer for The Resource Center.
Also recognized at the awards celebration was Mary Davis of Jamestown. She was honored for having been selected by NYSID (New York State Industries for the Disabled) for recognition in its annual Outstanding Performer Program. NYSID honored Davis for her job performance as a member of the TRC Environmental Services crew that maintains the Interstate 86 rest area in the Town of Ellery. Davis also was recognized as a NYSID Outstanding Performer in 2005.
Among Davis’ responsibilities, she drives the crew to and from the facility; cleans the restrooms; and keeps the lobby and outside area looking pristine. She also does the inventory and the ordering of supplies, along with performing grounds checks. Davis also assists travelers with directions or suggests ideas on what to see while in the area.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had, and I hope I never lose it,” Davis said as she accepted her award.
Carlo and Davis each received a trophy, plus certificates of recognition provided by Congressman Tom Reed, Senator George Borrello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, and County Executive PJ Wendel. Davis also received $500 from NYSID. Dr. Dawn Columbare, a member of TRC’s board of directors, gave Carlo his awards, while Davis received her awards from her supervisor, Janelle Newcomb, and Todd Frangione, TRC’s director of business operations.
The luncheon was held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron. Opening remarks were given by Denise Jones, The Resource Center’s Executive Director.
“Today, we will celebrate the achievements of those who have realized accomplishments and made significant contributions during the past year,” Jones said.
Jacqueline Chiarot Phelps, Reed’s deputy district director, attended the event and congratulated the honorees.
“God bless both of you for doing the work that you’re doing,” Phelps said to Davis and Carlo. “Every time we come to TRC, it’s because people are making a difference and making this community stronger.”
Patricia Perlee, the president of TRC’s board of directors, was unable to attend the event but prepared some remarks that were read at the luncheon’s conclusion.
“Last year at this time, we had never heard of COVID 19. Now we wear masks, keep our social distance, and wash our hands more often than ever imagined. Hand sanitizer has become our new friend. So much has changed. But one thing has not changed – your caring, dedication, generosity, and kindness. These have been woven into the tapestry that is TRC. This tapestry is a place where each person is valued, able to contribute to the community, experience lifelong growth, and enjoy quality of life. You have made this possible.”
The awards selection committee was composed of Sandy Ahlgren, a retired teacher; Victoria Trass Bardo, development and events manager for Filling the Gap; Toni DeAngelo, retired wellness director at UPMC Chautauqua; Kathy Field, TRC’s associate executive administrative assistant; Dan Hocking, co-owner of ACME The Appliance Store; Elizabeth Williams, a member of TRC’s board of directors; and Barrie Yochim, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Jamestown Area.