Eight organizations and individuals receive Citizen Recognition Awards in Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
The police officers in the Oxford Police Department, Police Corporal Scott Brown, Randy Teel, Family Promise of Chester County, David Ogino, Reba Webb, Janis Walker, and the Relay for Life of Oxford were all honored with Citizen Recognition Awards at the May 16 Oxford Borough Council meeting.
“What a wonderful gathering!” Mayor Geoff Henry exclaimed as he looked around the room filled with people supporting this year’s recipients.
Henry said that handing out the Citizen Recognition Awards is always one of the highlights of the year. He established the Citizen Recognition Awards in 2006 as a way to recognize the individuals, businesses, and organizations that have made positive contributions to the Borough of Oxford and its citizens. The entire community is invited to nominate the people and organizations that are making a difference in Oxford. The first awards were handed out in 2007, and with the eight recipients this year, there have now been a total of 78 individuals, businesses, and organizations that have been presented with the Citizen Recognition Awards through the years.
This year’s recipients serve the Oxford community in many different ways.
Walker, the executive director of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce, was nominated by Maggie Garcia Taylor.
“Janis is a faithful supporter of the community and the Oxford businesses as the leader of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce,” Taylor wrote. “She rose to the challenges and is a believer in a positive attitude. She is an inspiration, and we should all take note to never give up.”
Borough Manager Betsy Brantner nominated the police officers in the Oxford Police Department for the award.
“The day-to-day activities of the police officers on the street improve the quality of life in the borough,” Brantner wrote. “Knowing that you can call the police officers and having them respond in mere minutes provides a level of safety that few communities enjoy.”
Brantner went on to say that she herself has benefited from the quick and caring responses of the police officers.
“Having been the recipient of their quick responses, I have the utmost respect for their dedication and courage,” Brantner wrote. “The follow-up that they provide after a crime is most important in helping an individual recover. I thank all the officers who put their lives on the line so that we can feel safe in our homes.”
When Henry presented the award to the police department, the dozens of people in attendance at the meeting gave them a standing ovation.
An important member of the Oxford Police Department, Corporal Scott Brown, was also selected to personally receive a Citizen Recognition Award this year. Jerome Rodio, a business owner and the president of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors, nominated Brown.
According to Rodio, “Corporal Brown is the reason our First Fridays and special events run smoothly. His participation on the Car Show Committee is the reason that it is such a big success. Business owners and residents of Oxford are grateful for his help and friendly demeanor in any situation.”
Teel, a business owner and former longtime Oxford Borough Council member, was nominated for the Citizen Recognition Award by resident Andrew Atkinson, who lauded Teel for “his dedication to our community by his involvement in many community organizations.”
Teel served on borough council for 16 years, including several stints as borough council president. He has also been a member of the American Legion for 20 years. He is also the owner of RNJ Plaques and Engraving, a business in downtown Oxford.
“I am most proud of watching Randy participate in the organizing of Oxford's 250th anniversary celebration several years ago,” Atkinson wrote. “The 250th anniversary celebration of the town was a positive and inspiring event that helped to strengthen the bonds of the town. Randy dedicated not only countless hours of his time and energy, but also his passion for the community of Oxford could be seen in any of the activities that were organized leading up to the celebration. Randy Teel has provided a lifetime of service to Oxford.”
Ogino received the Citizen Recognition Award for his involvement with the planning for the popular car show, his work on the Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI) Events Committee, and his efforts leading “Operation Otis” when a beloved feline disappeared from Oxford Feed & Lumber, where Ogino works.
The Drennen family, the owners of Oxford Feed & Lumber, nominated Ogino, writing that, “David has a passion for cars and hard work.” That was demonstrated during the car show, which is one of the most popular First Friday events on the calendar. Ogino is the co-chair of the car show, and helps handle many details of the planning for the well-organized event. He also serves on OMI's Events Committee, which meets each month to plan special events.
Ogino also volunteered to help SILO (Serving Inspiring Loving Others) with the stage sets for the fundraising banquet.
The Drennens also explained that Ogino led the effort to locate Otis, the cat that calls Oxford Feed & Lumber home. When Otis disappeared for twelve days before returning to the store on his own, the missing cat garnered considerable attention in the community. While Otis was missing, Ogino discovered how many feral cats are in Oxford, and he set out to help control the population. The Drennens wrote, “Many evenings and weekends, David and his wife were trapping cats and bringing them to vets for treatments. David is a compassionate person who cares for the well-being of animals, and his good deeds made some impact on the feral cat population around town.
Webb, a parishioner at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, was nominated for her many good deeds to help others.
“(S)he is the kind of person who reaches out to help whenever she sees anyone in need,” wrote Rev. Mary Ann Mertz when she and Rodio nominated Webb for the honor.
One example of that occurred last summer when Webb became aware of a woman who had lost her home and was sleeping in her car.
“The woman had little money to buy food,” Mertz wrote, “and did not even have access to water for herself or her service dog. Reba found the things that the woman needed in the short-term and we are happy to report that the woman has been restored to permanent housing.”
Webb will also purchase children's clothing ten or twelve times a year to donate to children who are needy.
Webb is the chairperson of the church's Outreach Committee. She has increased the strong support that church members provide to the Lighthouse Youth Center, including the hands-on ministry of serving meals once a month.
“I know there are many people who reach out to serve, but Reba is extraordinary,” Mertz wrote. “She consistently notes when people are suffering and she responds. Not many people do that. You cannot find a better representative who more faithfully serves people in the Borough of Oxford.”
This year's recipients included two organizations whose reach extends beyond Oxford.
A relatively new organization, Family Promise of Southern Chester County, was nominated for the award by ACE Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance of Oxford.
Family Promise of Southern Chester County combines the efforts of more than two dozen church organizations throughout the area to provide housing assistance and related services to families who are experiencing homelessness.
Henry nominated the Relay for Life of Oxford for the fundraising efforts to support the American Cancer Society.
“Relay for Life has been in existence in Oxford since 2002,” Henry explained. “Since that year, an amazing group of volunteers has raised $905,000 for the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society Relay for Life brings together four million people worldwide to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, to remember loved ones lost, and to empower individuals and communities to fight back against the disease.”
Henry said that in addition to the award, all the recipients will receive a key to Oxford.
“All eight of the recipients are surely worthy of the award,” Henry explained, “and these organizations and individuals represent a real cross-section of the community.”