As a part of its month long “Breakfast With Champions” virtual volunteer recognition series, the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley highlighted a new round of nominees from April 7-13 for the Biggest Heart and Most Reliable volunteer categories.
Jessica Reynolds was nominated for the Biggest Heart because of her outstanding service with the Sixth Street Shelter apartments, Turner and Ferry streets, Allentown, where she serves at the front desk and on the fundraising committee.
“Her dedicated service and compassion is apparent in every interaction she has with the families … “She has gone out of her way to make their stay with us more comfortable by providing excellent customer service … lending a helpful hand or sometimes just listening,” Heather Pritchard, the shelter’s development and volunteer coordinator, wrote about Reynold’s nomination.
Additionally, Barry Dobil was recognized as for his work with The Salvation Army Children’s Services: Foster Care and Adoption program, where he has led the advisory board, sponsored the family picnic, partnered with Adopt Lehigh Valley Kids and played Santa Claus for the annual Christmas party.
“Barry Dobil’s big heart shines constantly over our foster and adoptive children. Barry absolutely has the biggest heart of any volunteer we’ve ever known,” Salvation Army staff wrote about Dobil’s nomination.
The final April 7 Biggest Heart entrant was Kim Hellerick with Lehigh Valley Health Network’s hospice.
In her nomination post, the Volunteer Center noted the integral role hospice volunteers play in providing relief and support for caregivers, family members and patients, performing administrative duties and carrying out specialized tasks, and they thanked Hellerick for her kindness and compassionate service.
The next day, the Volunteer Center recognized Karen Armstrong from the Lehigh County Humane Society for her devoted care of the organization’s animals, helping to prepare them for their new homes and loving families.
“Karen Armstrong is an amazing volunteer with such compassion,” a Humane Society staff member wrote, “She takes care of the sick cats in isolation, she cleans them, medicates them and gives them lots of love.”
In a dual Biggest Heart nomination, Marilyn DeLeon and Millie Gonzalez were honored for their work with the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Cancer Support Community staff said the two were recognized for their “unwavering commitment” conducting employee matching and providing outreach at numerous community and special events, specifically noting DeLeon and Gonzalez raised funds for their family team, Mayra’s Mighty Dragons, created in memory of their sister, Mayra, during the organization’s Dragon Boat Festival.
DeLeon and Gonzalez were also praised for their positive energy and dedication, which led them to “become two of our most reliable, compassionate, and selfless volunteers!”
Furthermore, Sherrie Weiss from the Lehigh Valley Zoo was also nominated for the Biggest Heart Volunteer title, and she was thanked by the Volunteer Center for her service to the zoo, the animals and the greater community.
“Sherrie truly loves and cares for every single animal at our zoo without exception,” zoo staff wrote for Weiss’ commemorative post.
“She shares that love and passion for animals and conservation with every guest she meets and is an inspiration to all.”
Mary Ehrhardt was the next volunteer honored as a contender for the Biggest Heart category for more than 14 years of faithful work at the Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation, South Whitehall.
“She helps bring residents to Mass each month,” the Volunteer Center wrote about Ehrhardt’s nomination.
“Mary is patient and kind with everyone as they reach out to the Lord in their own way.”
The final nominee for Biggest Heart was Melissa Capobianco with Mercy School for Special Learning, where she has chaired the auction subcommittee for two years, volunteered in the classroom and painted backdrops for the school’s annual Christmas show.
In Capobianco’s post, the Volunteer Center said she became involved with the school after taking a 2018 tour and has “gone above and beyond the call of duty in multiple ways as a volunteer … you name it, she’s done it, in terms of rolling up her sleeves and getting the job done!”
Kicking off the nominees for the Most Reliable volunteer category, Marion Graziadei was recognized for her work with the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Cancer Support Community staff praised Graziadei for more than two years of dedicated, weekly service with their organization, including her work reorganizing the center’s resource library.
“We can always rely on her to be here and tackle any project we have waiting for her to complete,” the staff wrote.
Lastly, the second April 13 nominee for Most Reliable Volunteer was Lehigh Valley Zoo volunteer Nancy Dawley.
“Nancy is always ready and willing to come in on short notice when we are in need of extra hands,” zoo staff wrote on Dawley’s post.
“She consistently goes above and beyond to not only help the zoo but to make sure our guests have a truly fun and educational experience.”
New entries into the “Breakfast With Champions” virtual series are posted 8:30 a.m. every weekday in April on the Volunteer Center’s Facebook page: facebook.com/volunteerlv.