Brotherhood award winners embody a model of citizenship

What makes a community special?

People and organizations with heart, vision and a can-do spirit may be the clearest path.

And all of that was honored by the Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance at its annual dinner last week.

Donna Bastian and William Nichols Sr. were honored for their community involvement in multiple local organizations. Actually, it goes well beyond involvement.

Both of them have been at the foundations or been the leaders of major parts of the community, including the James V. Brown Library, STEP Inc., the First Community Foundation, the American Red Cross, Leadership Lycoming and the Food Bank.

Gary Yocum, the Ray Keyes Sports Award winner, has been volunteering his time to Montgomery area athletics for more than 60 years. You read that correctly – six decades.

Firetree LTD., founded in 1990 by William Brown and the late Allen E. Ertel, has been a leader in providing reentry services for people returning to society after being incarcerated as well as drug and alcohol treatment.

In the past year, Firetree LTD. has led the formation and development of Firetree Place, a learning and serving model on Campbell Street at the former headquarters of The Center. There are 25 people between the ages of 14 and 24 getting their first work experience there. There are 50 kids in an after-school program at Firetree Place. And more than 400 youths have been impacted by the program in the past year.

These individuals and the organizations they have bolstered embody the sort of community togetherness that Jay Paterno, the night’s keynote speaker, underlined as the necessary element in a society today that is far too dominated by negativity and disunity.

This community can remain special if the generations that follow those honored last week duplicate the model of citizenship they have established.