DAR salutes Community Service Award recipient and Punxsy Spirit

PUNXSUTAWNEY — It’s a two-award year for Thomas R. Chelgren.

Just four months after he was named Punxsy’s 2010 Man of the Year during the annual Groundhog Eve banquet Feb. 1, the Punxsutawney chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution named him the recipient of its Community Service Award during its annual Flag Day Dinner Tuesday at the Punxsutawney Country Club.

The chapter also saluted The Punxsutawney Spirit and Editor Tom Chapin with its first-ever Certificate of Appreciation for the newspaper’s continued coverage and support of the chapter.

Ginger Momyer, chairperson of the Community Service Award Committee, said chapters must come up with detailed descriptions of the award nominees for the national committee. But she said it was that much more difficult to generate locally because by nature, Chelgren prefers to keep his volunteer and community work out of the spotlight.

According to the National Society of DAR, the award is given “in recognition of outstanding contribution to the community through civic, benevolent or heroic acts by citizens from a variety of walks of life. The recipient must have outstanding voluntary service in cultural, educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical, citizenship, environmental conservation, or organized community endeavors.”

Chelgren was fulfilled these guidelines by his service and membership on various boards, committees and civic groups that benefit the community, Momyer said.

He began his career as a Pennsylvania State Police trooper in 1984, and in 1999, was named the Trooper of the Year by the state police.

Chelgren is also active in the local chapter of Rotary International, having served as coordinator of the Circle of Trees, the local club’s annual Radio Auction and its multi-phasic blood screening, all of which are endeavors that take hours of time.

He also serves on the board of directors for the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, as well as the board of the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, volunteering time with both groups.

Chelgren has also served with the Little League board, ambulance service, the Punxsutawney Area School District tax study and groups that serve victims of domestic violence.

As a member of the Elk Run Volunteer Fire Company, he served as chief in 1984, and has served SPLASH and his church, the First English Lutheran Church.

He and his wife, Nancy, have a daughter, Laura, a rising sophomore at Punxsutawney Area High School.

In his remarks, Chelgren said of the DAR award, “For this to come from this organization brings it to my heart.”

He said he has had a few months to digest the Man of the Year Award, but it has been a bit harder to convey his pride for the DAR award, since the group brings patriotism and education to the community.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Chelgren cited him mother and sister as the four people who “built me to what I am.”

In presenting the Certificate of Appreciation Award, DAR Regent Jan Harrold said it is the first year the local group has presented the award, and cited Chapin and The Spirit for their prompt and faithful coverage of DAR events throughout the year.

“So we created this award to show him how much we appreciate the coverage,” she said.

Chapin related a recent experience in which one of The Spirit’s most popular Web features had disappeared from the site, to be met with many e-mails wanting to know where the feature went. But once it was restored, there for no thank-yous for fixing the glitch.

Thus, in a time when thank-yous are given few and far between in the world, Chapin thanked DAR on his and The Spirit’s behalf for the group’s consideration and show of appreciation, and he and the newspaper welcome future and continued work and cooperation with DAR.

Also Tuesday, the local DAR chapter welcomed Lynn Nicklas, who presented the program, as well as new and prospective members to the group.