About 200 volunteers help Lycoming County United Way help others and the efforts made by them were recognized Wednesday night at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Night.
"This is one of my favorite events," said Virgil Probasco, volunteer chairman of the 2012 campaign. "With you, the volunteer, this ship frankly would not sail."
The volunteers were given a chance to hear a first-hand account of how their work supports those who need it.
Top volunteers honored Wednesday night at the Community Arts Center for their efforts on behalf of the Lycoming County United Way were, from left, Kendall Simon, Vince Noviello and Orion Behrer, who each received Valiant Volunteer Awards, and Ed Blair, who was awarded the Douglas Shangraw Award.
Melissa Stoner was diagnosed as a diabetic 20 years ago. She quit school to help raise her family.
Her diabetes and pregnancy had legally blinded her.
She knew she needed an education to raise her family, so she reached out to the Learning Center, which paired her with a tutor.
"We met for three years, two days a week, for a few hours," Stoner said at the Community Arts Center.
She shared with the audience of about 120 people that she had completed her testing, received her GED and, now, no longer is considered legally blind.
Three volunteers received the Valiant Volunteer Awards based on their efforts for the mission's behalf.
The first went to Vince Noviello, of Wirerope Works.
"He not only encouraged others to give, as he himself was doing, but he provided them with a personal example of how United Way does make a positive difference in the lives of so many people," Scott Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director, said. "The Children's Development Center was there for his family to help when they needed help and he has been stepping forward ever since to help others."
Getting his co-workers to help was not difficult. He just reminded people what they already knew about the United Way, Noviello said.
Another winner was Orion Behrer, who served as an in-house campaign manager.
"Under his campaign leadership, The Tech Group Williamsport has more than doubled their giving levels since 2010 and this year, $8,000 more was raised than they raised last year," Lowery said.
Like Noviello, Behrer said he had no idea he had been chosen to win an award.
"It really goes back to the employees at the workplace supporting what the United Way stands for," Behrer said.
The final Valiant Volunteer winner was Kendall Simon.
"Special fundraising activities of many kinds have been held to support the United Way," Lowery said. "We've had CEOs kiss a pig, give up their title for a day and have whipped cream pies thrown in their faces," Lowery said. "But we've never, never had anyone use a gun to raise funds for our United Way until this year. This Valiant Volunteer and her employer, Stallion Oilfield Services, changed all that by hosting the first annual Busting Clays for United Way trap shoot, raising nearly $11,000."
Simon explained the reason for her passion in helping the United Way is Lycoming County is a place that is home for her.
"I know it's important to support each other," Simon said.
The Douglas Shangraw Award, presented annually to a campaign volunteer who best exemplifies Shangraw's community spirit, was given to Ed Blair.
"The fruits of his dedicated labor has led to an impressive show of support by his fellow Kellogg employees and the Kellogg management that has firmly established the Kellogg Co. as Lycoming County United Way's biggest contributor - this year raising a record $185,500.
Blair, whom Lowery described as a quiet man whose actions produced loud results, proved that when he stepped up to the podium only when the audience asked him to give a speech.
"My reward has been to serve with the United Way," Blair said.
The tradition of presenting awards to the top three essay contest writers from grades five through eight in Lycoming County continued for the 18th year, co-sponsored by the Williamsport Sun-Gazette and the United Way.
Students were invited to write an essay in 250 words or less about how they or someone they knew live united. More than 400 entries were received.
The winners were Ashley Snyder, a McCall Middle School eighth- grader; Alex McWilliams, a McCall Middle School fifth-grader; and Lily Saar, a Schick Elementary School fifth- grader.
The winning essays will be published in the Sun-Gazette's Education section on Monday.
The essay contest began as a way to encourage young people to think about others, Lowery said.
"We're all a team," Mary B. Wolf, board president, said. "We're all a team of volunteers."