PASR meeting spotlights recognition, rewards and remembrances

BROCKWAY — At the fall luncheon program of the Jefferson County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees (PASR), the “three R’s” took on new meanings: Recognition, Rewards and Remembrances. Members gathered at the St. Tobias Church Hall in Brockway to enjoy a delicious catered meal, which was followed by a program that honored various individuals for their accomplishments. The meeting ended with the annual SSMHF candlelight ceremony to pay tribute to those who had passed during the year.

Betty Elza, chairperson of the Education Support committee, introduced the winners of the Lauretta Woodson Award from Brockway: Chemistry teacher Tim Chelednik and Mary Jo Donlin, a support professional. They were nominated for the honor by Superintendent Daniel J. Hawkins.

Hawkins noted that “Tim has worked at the Brockway Area Schools for the past 14 years as a chemistry teacher. During that time, Tim has inspired many students to pursue careers in chemistry-related fields. Tim also has been selected as one of the 12 finalists for teacher of the year in Pennsylvania.”

Commenting on support professional Mary Jo Donlin, Hawkins remarked, “Mary Jo has been a valued employee for the past 20 years in the high school cafeteria. She is a very upbeat employee who is very prompt and a pleasure to be around. Mary Jo is the ‘go to’ person in the cafeteria. Whenever someone has a question, they know she can and will help.”

Betty Elza, chair of the county’s Educational Support Committee, introduced the duo and read the plaque, which states: “The Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees gratefully presents the 2010 Lauretta Woodson Award in recognition of unselfish dedication and exemplary service to the Brockway Area School District and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We thank you on behalf of the youth of today and the future of tomorrow.”

The winners received a specially engraved medallion on a red ribbon, a framed certificate, and a PASR lapel pin.

The award, which PASR has established on a state-wide basis, is funded through a legacy from Lauretta Woodson, to salute outstanding work in public education. Each county’s PASR chapter will rotate the award among member school districts with each having a year in which two of its candidates will receive the recognition.

President Bob Barone next presented two veteran chapter members with certificates of appreciation for their many years of service to the organization: Harry Nicholson (treasurer) and Ursula Albino (Retirement Planning). The chapter made a contribution to the state SSMHF in their honor.

Jim Grant was named the County Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his devotion to the local PASR chapter and his numerous involvements in civic and community endeavors.

For its outstanding services to school retirees who are ill or homebound, the Jefferson County Chapter received more than $1,100 at the recent PASR convention in State College. Barone expressed deep appreciation to the four women whose efforts in compiling the required documentation led to the funding award. He thanked Jeanne Burkett (treasurer) and Member Services coordinators Nancy Huffman (Brockway), Barbara Kroh (Brookville) and Carole Haire (Punxsutawney).

Portions of the award funds have been earmarked to provide Christmas gifts for shut-ins and older members. A committee will assemble the presents for delivery in early December.

Using the theme of “earning gold stars for fine work,” Lee Foulkrod led a tribute to 18 former members and colleagues who died in the past 12 months. The lighting of a candle preceded the reading of brief biographies of those being remembered: Bertha Andrews, Mary Belton, James Crissman, Doris Fortunato, Renee Gustafson, Jeanne Haines, Marie Halchin, Kay Jacobson, Joseph Kippert, Forest Maurer, John McNulty, Wilbert Pendleton, Betty Ralston, Donald Routch, James Shaffer, Josephine Vitello, Robert Weitzel and Betty Wonderling.

The chapter recently concluded a successful three-phase project to alert elementary students to the dangers of addiction. During a summer “kids’ day” at the local pool, again during the National Night Out Against Crime in August, and as part of October’s Red Ribbon Week, members distributed colorful silicon wrist bands bearing the inscription, “PASR says, ‘Don’t Monkey with Drugs!”

In keeping with the holiday spirit, the members are sponsoring a county-wide campaign at six supermarkets to encourage area residents to make donations of snacks, toiletry articles, stationery items and recreation supplies to be sent to the troops in Afghanistan.

PASR has placed containers and lists of requested merchandise at participating stores. The contributions will be gathered through Nov. 17, then taken to Indiana, where volunteers from the Soldiers’ Angels organization will process the gifts for shipment.

Before adjourning, S. Thomas Curry, regional director-elect, installed the officers to lead the chapter in 2011: Gordon Stuby, president; Jeanne Burkett, treasurer; and Angela Gigliotti, secretary.