Though Hope Enterprises celebrated 60 years in 2012, this year's annual meeting and awards ceremony, with more than 500 people in attendance, served as a first in one way.
"I am especially delighted this year to welcome the clients, family and staff of the Children's Development Center, which became affiliated with Hope earlier this year," said Tom Bixler, chairman of the Hope Enterprises Board of Directors.
That merger means Hope Enterprises now can support people from birth to death, said Joel Weaver, vice president of financial operations.
Above, Voices of Hope sings God Bless America at the Hope Enterprises Inc. Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony Friday evening. They also sang High Hopes and Happy Trails, with the words provided on a projected screen so the audience could participate.
The event Friday night at the Lycoming College Recreation Center served as a thank-you to all of the people who represent the ideals of the agency. The awards honored those named as individuals, employees and employers of the year throughout the Hope Enterprises service area.
Robert Drumheiser III was the big winner of the night, named both the Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union (CMSU) Region Residential Individual of the Year for the Community Support Program and the Northumberland County Community Employment Services Employee of the Year.
He works as a host and dishwasher at Garfield's Restaurant and Pub, Selinsgrove. He received his driver's license after studying many hours. He volunteered in the local library by moving books out of the old library and will help move them to the new home. He helps out a a food bank, filling out receipts, preparing bags and carrying them to people's vehicles. He also has played Santa Claus at the regional Christmas party for several years, said Amy Shepperson, of the CMSU region.
Kathryn "Kathy" Sprenkle received the CMSU Region Residential Individual of the Year award for the group home, presented by Judy Mills-Slusser, of the CMSU region.
"Kathy has made much progress during her time at her current home," Mills-Slusser said. "There was a time when Kathy would prefer not to attend a day program and when she did, she had a very eclectic manner of dress. This is no longer the case for Kathy."
Michael Snyder received the CMSU Region Residential Individual award for the Life Sharing Program.
"Michael has overcome much adversity and many challenges thus far in his life," said Beverly Lytle, of the CMSU region. "He proves to be brave and courageous as daily he endeavors to strive to have a productive and fulfilling life, regardless of the obstacles he faces daily. Michael has had many physical challenges that he has overcome and mastered."
Kristin Baysore received the Lycoming, Clinton and Northumberland (LCN) Region Residential Individual of the Year for the Life Sharing Program after starting in 2010.
Because of her time there, her family noticed a positive improvement in her attitude, appearance, interactions with other and things she learned, said Terry Mertz, of the LCN region.
Terri Stutzman presented James "Jim" Stryker with the Group Home Residential Person of the Year award for the LCN region.
"Jim is happy now, most of the time," said Stutzman. "He has come so far from when he first moved to Hope. He now is part of the Hope residential family and I can think of no one who deserves this award more."
The Community Support Program Individual of the Year for the LCN region is John Kadash.
Presenter Jen Kaufman explained that, with the help of his family and staff, he lost a considerable amount of weight, walking two times a week with the staff and swimming on a regular basis.
Briar Dorwart, the Early Learning Program Child of the Year, was chosen for his friendly, humorous and helpful personality. He also represented the Hope Enterprises and Children's Development Center affiliation.
"Briar participated in Hope's Home Visit program and our Early Learning Program at the Jersey Shore Elementary School," Nina Osborn, program supervisor, said. "At the same time, Briar received outpatient services through Children's Development Center, which makes Briar the perfect choice for this recognition."
He greeted each sentence about him with a giggle, particularly when Osborn told the audience that he enjoyed telling his friends about his big dog.
Amy Jo "AJ" Hale received the Adult Training Facility Individual of the Year, after participating in the program for 12 years.
"Determination - AJ has learned to persevere with challenges presented to her," Michelle Frey, program supervisor, said. "She was determined to make money and masterminded an enterprising project to sell baked goods and snacks. She was determined to try to use a stand-up walker and was proud when she walked through the hallways. When AJ puts her mind into a project, there is no stopping her."
Three people received employees of the year awards.
Fred Lewis received the Vocational Habilitation Employee of the Year from Deb Eisenhower, vocational rehabilitation program supervisor.
This past February, he stopped attending classes and began working all day, increasing his production by 3 percent.
"Fred also became much more outgoing and interacts with various people on a daily basis," Eisenhower said. "He accepts job assignments and changes with a smile. He is eager to try new jobs and loves to earn a paycheck."
Mary Lou Johnson was chosen as the Renovo Industrial Services Employee of the Year, after attending the program for 19 years.
"Mary Lou was chosen for this award due to her caring heart and special personality," said Diane Coleman, program supervisor.
George Bickel received the Williamsport Industrial Services Employee of the Year from Tina Beach, production manager.
"George is very respectful to the staff and his coworkers," Beach said. "He accepts all jobs assigned to him and does his very best. He has all the traits an employer would look for in an employee."
Staff who worked five years or more also were recognized, as were those who worked in the industrial service five years or more.
For the first time in the organization's 60 years, one staff member was honored for working 40 years - Marilyn Gregory.
Dorothy Fisher also worked 40 years in the industrial services.
Alert1, named Business of the Year, keeps a minimum of five employees busy daily cleaning monitoring units that have been returned and assembling various call buttons.
"What makes the partnership unique is that Alert1 has moved part of their operations to Hope Enterprises so that there is a more efficient flow of product," Beach said.
Jason Jones received the Community Employment Services Employee of the Year.
He started working in the produce section at Giant Food Stores in February 2001.
Tony's Delicatessen and Meats was named Lycoming County Employer of the Year, after the first placement in 2008, with an individual working as a utility worker for the past four years.
In Northumberland County, Garfield's Restaurant and Pub received the Community Employment Services Employee of the Year.
"When those of us in (Community Employment Services) are out in the community looking for jobs, our goal isn't just to find any job opening that the person can and wants to do," said Crystal Snyder, Northumberland County Community Employment Services employment specialist supervisor. "It's to make a good job match. But to find an employer who has that special something is what we at (Community Employment Services) all strive for. Garfield's has that special something."
The Community Service Award was presented to Karl Dusman, owner of Humphrey's Pest Control Co., for the company's dedication, dependability, pride and services to all of the Hope Enterprises facilities.