Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a four-part series recognizing recently honored "Volunteers of the Year" through the partner agencies of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.
Darrell Stein came to Meals on Wheels in 1988; 25 years and 100,000 meals later, he still enjoys helping out. Executive Director Barrie Yochim said Darrell unselfishly puts his effort into volunteering.
"He puts everyone else's needs ahead of his own," said Yochim. "In the 25 years here, he's helped deliver meals on almost all of our delivery routes. He's also the first volunteer to show up at our fundraising events in the spring, summer, fall, or winter."
For 25 years Darrell Stein has been delivering meals and hope to thousands of Chautauqua County residents.
For these reasons and many more, Stein has been named Meals on Wheels Volunteer of the Year.
Putting others before herself is something that comes natural for Mary-Ann Eva Ingrao. For the past seven years, she has volunteered her time and talents at the YWCA's Transitional Housing Program. Program Director Nanci Okerlund said she is a dedicated mentor, friend, sounding board and spiritual advisor who empowers individuals to believe in themselves.
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"During the illness and eventual passing of one of our residents, Mary-Ann Eva provided support and prayers and even conducted the memorial service," said Okerlund. "She is truly an inspiration to all whose lives she touches and we are blessed to have her in our corner."
Chip Swanson was chosen by the Jamestown Area YMCA as its Volunteer of the Year because of his help in getting the Teen Center Boxing Club off the ground. For the past year, Chip has worked with the boxers, coaching and mentoring, as well as providing spiritual guidance.
Teen Director John Barber said, "Chip doesn't have to preach a message to teach because who he is towards the teens is the message they need. He's a real blessing to our program and our boxing club wouldn't be where it is today, if it wasn't for Chip." Known for his generosity, Swanson has also paid for much of the club's equipment out of his own pocket. For his leadership both in and out of the ring, Swanson is the Jamestown Area YMCA's Volunteer of the Year.
Like the entire nonprofit world, volunteers are the life-blood at the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. And while there have been many notable individuals who have selflessly sacrificed their time and energy to deliver packets, stuff envelopes, or make phone calls, 16 year-old student intern Nancheska Torres stood out above all the rest. The JHS junior was assigned to United Way through the school's Youth Apprenticeship Program. Executive Director Tory Irgang said Nancheska has been dependable, hard-working and has always displayed a positive attitude.
"We never had to worry about Nancheska doing what she was asked to do," said Irgang. "It didn't matter the task either, whatever we asked of her, she did well and she did with a great attitude."
National Volunteer Week concludes today, but the need for volunteers remains great in our community. The inspirational stories shared throughout the week show all it takes for positive change to happen is a willing person to dedicate their time and energy to it. The effort these volunteers make on a regular basis reminds us all to find a way to give back. Whether it's spending a Saturday morning at a clean-up event, setting aside an hour each week to mentor, or dedicating days each year to support disaster response, volunteers make our community a better place. If you haven't found a way to give back, check out www.volunteerwny.org today to learn more about agencies and programs right here that need you. The United Way of Southern Chautauqua County is always available to help you get more involved through volunteerism and can be reached at 483-1561.