Oxford honors citizens, organizations for making a difference in the community
● By Steven Hoffman
The one thing that all the 2015 recipients of the Oxford Citizen Recognition Awards have in common is that they are all working to make the lives of others in the community better.
Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry presented the awards to Donna Moore and the Divine Sent Food Cupboard, Kassidy England, Melissa Sheerin, Jerome Rodio and Kathy Garvin of J & K Slightly Touched, and the ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford at the May 18 borough council meeting. Henry said that this year's inductees are a very diverse group, ranging from a high school student to someone who has worked for a food cupboard for more than 20 years.
Donna Moore and the Divine Sent Food Cupboard were nominated for the award by Mary Baringer.
In making nomination, Baringer noted that Moore was instrumental in getting the Food Cupboard started back in 1993. The size of the Food Cupboard has increased significantly through the years, moving from the basement in the church to a garage that was just expanded last year.
Baringer praised Moore for always being willing to help any person or family in need—and for providing that help with a smile on her face.
“Each client is treated like family,” Baringer wrote, adding that this is very much appreciated by those in need.
“Donna has been a stalwart,” explained Phoebe Kitson, the agency and community partnership manager for the Chester County Food Bank, which sometimes distributes food to the Divine Sent Food Cupboard. Kitson said that Moore is always willing to accept food so that it is available to those who need it in Oxford. Moore does an amazing job of distributing the food, Kitson said.
Melissa Sheerin, the co-owner and manager of the Odds and Ends store in Oxford, was nominated for her diligent work to get the store back in operation after a fire swept through the building at 55 South Third Street.
Randy Teel, a borough council member and business owner in town, nominated Sheerin for bringing in a variety of vendors to Odds and Ends that attract customers from as far away as Lancaster, Maryland, and Philadelphia.
“Melissa is also a board member of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce and attends the Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. monthly merchants meetings,” Teel noted, adding that Sheerin also organizes monthly vendor meetings so that they can participate in activities like the popular First Friday event.
Teel noted that Sheerin also works as a substitute teacher for children with special needs in surrounding schools.
“Due to her caring and professionalism, she is one of the most sought-after teachers,” Teel said of Sheerin. “[She] and her sister Marla also teach children how to ride horses at their farm. It is not unusual during her First Friday events for children to pet, feed, or have a picture taken with animals. Thanks to Melissa and her family, Oxford will always be seeing new faces walking the streets looking at other businesses.”
Jerome Rodio and Kathy Garvin, the proprietors of J & K Slightly Touched, were nominated by borough manager Betsy Brantner for creating an environment that brings crafters, artists, writers, and aspiring entrepreneurs together.
Rodio and Garvin were lauded for encouraging others to be successful. They have done volunteer work to help others, including the neediest in the community. They also promote humane care of animals.
“They are an exemplary couple who should be recognized for their dedication to the community and their fellow man,” the nomination read.
Henry nominated Kassidy England for the award because of her outstanding community service, the most notable one being the program that she planned to honor Oxford Area High School military veterans. A plaque honoring those veterans will be on permanent display at the high school because of England’s efforts over approximately two years.
“Kassidy’s dedication and hard work on this project was beyond belief,” Henry said. “She involved many individuals and organizations, and all of this was done while she was dually enrolled in the Oxford Area High School and Delaware County Community College.”
England is involved in many school activities, and also raised $2,300 for pediatric cancer patients and built 25 birdhouses for the enjoyment of residents at Jenner’s Pond Retirement Community.
Henry also nominated the ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford for the award. “ACE” stands for Advocating, Collaborating, and Educating. This organization, which was founded in September of 2012, works to educate the Oxford community about the dangers of human trafficking. Peggy Ann Russell, herself a 2014 recipient of the Citizen Recognition Award for her volunteer work with SILO, leads the ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance. Each month, the organization holds a meeting where guest speakers or video presentations inform attendees about topics related to anti-human trafficking efforts.
“Most recently, the organization has been involved in providing financial assistance, food, and housing for a survivor of labor trafficking until government programs were made available,” Henry said. “Several months ago, ACE offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of a runaway from our community. ACE was delighted to pay the reward to the anonymous informer.”
Henry established the Citizen Recognition Awards in 2006 as a way to recognize the individuals, businesses, and organizations that have made positive contributions to the town. The first awards were handed out in 2007. With the six recipients in 2015, there have now been a total of 70 individuals, businesses, and organizations that have been presented with the Citizen Recognition Awards.
Henry said that presenting these awards is always a highlight of the year.
“The people who do these good things don't do it to get recognized,” said Henry. “The awards are a way to recognize the good works that people are doing in the borough.”
Council president Ron Hershey said that the awards are a good way to recognize people in the Oxford community who are doing good work behind the scenes.
“Oxford has a lot to be proud of,” Hershey said. “We have a good community of people working together.”