Hope Enterprises awards banquet: Others before self

Hope Enterprises Inc. enhances the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.

No where was that more evident than Friday night’s annual banquet and meeting inside the spacious Lycoming College Recreation Center, where, one by one, individuals and groups were honored for their hardwork, compassionate service and commitment, with each given a rousing round of applause.

Youngsters, such as Lorenzo Minnella, recipient of the Children’s Development Center Therapy Achievement Award, a miracle baby, who beat the odds when at 9 months of age he suffered a stroke, leaving him with little use of his right side.

Minnella took to the microphone with the ease of a broadcaster.

“Thank You,” he said to a thunderous applause.

Leslie Ekstrand also epitomized what the night was about.

As general manager for Lycoming College/Parkhurst Dining team, which was awarded the Lycoming County Employer of the Year for community services, Ekstrand took step back from her leadership role to acknowledge her staff and the extraordinary support shown to Hope by employing individuals with disabilities.

Parkhurst, which has been the college’s dining services partner since 2011, employs five individuals who work side-by-side with food service and catering staff, learning the operations of college dining.

“Our team has worked with Hope Enterprises for the past two years,” she said. “It has been a rewarding experience and a pleasure to know these special individuals who are always eager to learn and willing to do a great job. We are honored to provide opportunities to these people and to have them as part of our team.”

A member of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Parkhurst Dining provides authentic culinary experiences to guests at the finest educational institutions, corporations and cultural destinations in its marketing region.

Ekstrand certainly wasn’t alone in recognizing the excellence in service and commitment of the Hope Enterprises’ team.

The Park Home and its board were the recipients of the Community Service Award and Jim Campbell, president of Hope Enterprises, noted the financial gifts will go a long way toward providing services to those whom Hope Enterprises serves.

Donna Bastian, chairman of the Hope Enterprises Board of Director, quoted from Helen Keller, who overcame the hurdles of being deaf and blind – to become one of histories most unforgettable examples of how far someone with developmental disabilities can rise.

“The world is moving along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker,” Keller said. “We celebrate and honor those ‘tiny pushes’ tonight,” Bastian said.

Bastian said it was “with pride” that she accepted the leadership role to work with Campbell and his staff.

Hope Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1952 by a Williamsport physician, Dr. Max E. Miller. At that time, families were faced with the care of their children, but no community services were available for them. In 1958, a building was constructed in the city to provide a permanent home for what became the “School of Hope.”

Bastian thanked Miller and his family for starting such a program, and thanked area residents who continue the Hope mission and carry out Miller’s vision, including pride for the employees, who go above and beyond to care for our people, and pride for the board members who give of their time because they believe in Hope’s mission.

“With government regulations and relying on outside funding, it is with due diligence that we all work to provide the best services and support to our individuals,” Bastian said. “Giving the best for less is becoming increasingly more challenging.”

Hope Enterprises established The Community Access Program which provides volunteer work, social/recreational activities, job skills training and life skills to people in Lycoming County.

A few other award winners recognized included:

Jason Seagraves, vocational rehabilitation employee of the year.

Serena Eggler, Renovo Industrial Services employee of the year.

Fred Lewis, Williamsport Industrial Services employee of the year.

Flexcon, business of the year.

Cathryn Keenan, Lycoming County employee of the year.

Anthony Bowersox, Northumberland County employee of the year.

Turbot Acres, Northumberland County employer of the year.