PHOENIXVILLE - An estimated crowd of 65 family, friends and well-wishers were present at the Citizen Recognition Award presentation ceremony at Phoenixville Borough Hall Thursday evening.
Mayor Leo Scoda hosted the event and welcomed everyone in attendance. "This is one of the most rewarding parts of my position," he said. "In fact, I'm already working on next year's list. This is a fitting way to reward these volunteers."
Scoda said he got the idea for the award during his first term as mayor in 1998.
"Volunteerism thrives in our community," he said. "It is amazing how many people are involved. When you have a community where people help each other, it makes for a better place to live."
After acknowledging some of the past recipients in the audience, Scoda introduced each of the 11 recipients by speaking of their achievements in the community.
The evening's first awardee, Pat Tindell, mentioned that it was her third time at the event. "I've been here to support both Emmett Gruici and Ken Wickstrom," Tindell said. "It's so wonderful to be in a community to where everyone helps each other." She thanked her Kiwanis "family" for being there. Tindell is one of the most active members of the Phoenixville Kiwanis, becoming the first woman to be elected President of the Phoenixville Kiwanis and was the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor of Kiwanis in Pennsylvania.
The next recipient, Ruby Armour, thanked her family and her church family for being present. Armour has been an active member of the Social Concerns Committee and Bethel Baptist Church, serving in many capacities, and she has contributed her time and talent as a member of the church's inspirational choir.
The first of two husband-and-wife duos, Tom and Kathy Mitchell, received their awards. "How many mayors can say they've given an award to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus," said Scoda, noting the couple's portrayal of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for many years. Tom Mitchell spoke of their two children and grandson, and how their daughter and son-in-law have carried on the Santa Claus tradition in Phoenix, Ariz.
Scoda presented the next award to Bob Elmer, who wished to give the "real thanks" to everyone involved with the preservation of the Schuylkill Canal. He is an active member of the Phoenixville Iron Company Trail Association (PICTA).
The fifth recipient, John Buckwalter, said he didn't expect to win an award. Buckwalter began his firefighting career at the age of 16 and has served as a volunteer firefighter at West End Fire Co. #3 for over 15 years. "I developed my love for taking care of people right here in Phoenixville," said Buckwalter, who was instrumental in ensuring the fire company's transition from a Basic Life Support (BLS) to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service.
Dr. Lorna B. Stuart spoke of her service to the Phoenixville area in providing medical care for those who may otherwise not have it. She has been instrumental in developing the free clinic that is offered to children, elderly and indigent patients from the Phoenixville area.
The evening's second husband-and-wife duo, Bill and Ellie Nissle, both said it's wonderful to work on the projects they're involved in and they feel the appreciation given to them. The Nissles give of their time and services to ACT (the Association for the Colonial Theatre), the Phoenixville library, and in the Meals on Wheels program that touches the lives of many elderly and disabled in our community.
The eighth recipient, Dot Mandell Cohen, couldn't be present due to recent surgery, so her son Jeff Mandell accepted the award. Jeff read a letter his mother prepared, thanking everyone for her award. Cohen has always served as a volunteer substitute over the Christmas holidays that allowed Christian hospital workers to have that day off. She has been active with the Phoenixville Library, especially with the used book sales, and she has served with the Women's Club Historical Society and the Afternoon Music Club.
Noting her dedication to the Grimes AME Church for over 40 years, Janet Pickett told everyone in attendance, "This is overwhelming. It's been a joy - it's been a pleasure and a warm fuzzy feeling." Pickett is a member of the church's Trustee Board and has served as past President of the Stewardess Board for 15 years.
Honored for "being honored by His Honor, Mayor Scoda," Pat Nattle spoke of his 34 years on the Phoenixville Recreation Board. "I'm on board for another four years, and I'm going for 50 next," said Nattle. He was a key figure in developing the men's softball league locally and has been an active member of the Phoenixville Italian Club.
The evening's final recipient, Marie Z. Swayze, thanked "the good Lord" for her blessing. "Faith plus hope equals trust," she said. "Mother" Swayze serves as Pastor of St. Peters Episcopal Church and has led the effort to convert the parish house into the facility that today houses the "Free Clinic."
After thanking everyone in attendance, Scoda concluded the ceremony by saying, "We have so much wealth of volunteerism in our area. When you give of your time, blood and sweat, that is what volunteerism is all about."