In honor of Older Americans Month, 16 residents were recognized at the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services 16th annual Tribute to Unsung Heroes May 18 at Asbury United Methodist Church, South Whitehall Township.
This tribute honors older adults in the Valley who have exhibited exceptional generosity with their time and talents to enrich the lives of others in the community.
Tiffany Winkle, supervisor for community services and support in the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, said “This year’s theme, ‘Blaze a Trail,’ emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities and making a positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.”
Some of the honorees at this year’s tribute include William and Evelyn Hart, Stanley C. Harwick, and Robert J. Grim, all of Lower Macungie Township, John H. Leeser from the Borough of Macungie, John J. Hinkle, of Upper Milford Township, Thomas N. Kelly and Rose Ann Scheuerman, both from Salisbury Township.
William and Evelyn Hart received the Unsung Hero award for their commitment to Meals on Wheels and their in-depth commitment to serving others in the community.
The Harts have logged over 2,800 hours and traveled more than 11,500 miles delivering meals to homebound residents in the Lehigh Valley.
At 78, their willingness to roll up their sleeves and step in whenever and wherever they are needed and their determination to reach out and offer a helping hand whenever they can has made a lasting impact on Meals on Wheels clients, staff and the community.
William Hart said he and Evelyn are thankful they are healthy and for the opportunity to serve Meals on Wheels clients and the community.
Evelyn said they get so much out of serving the client and the community.
“We are truly blessed and have each other,” she said. “We are doing something we enjoy.”
Leeser, a lifelong resident of Macungie and graduate of Emmaus High School and Kutztown University received the award for his volunteer work to the community of Macungie.
He is known for his volunteer work at the annual Das Awkscht Fescht Antique Car show, the Wheels of Time Custom Rod Jamboree Car Show and for being an original member of the Macungie Garden Club which maintains the flower park on Main Street near the railroad tracks.
Leeser has also served on the Macungie Town Beautification Committee for over 10 years and helps out at the town’s annual holiday event in December.
He is also the driver for the group when they tour Macungie to select the winners of the town’s annual Christmas Lights Decorating contest.
Harwick, a retired professor, also received the Unsung Hero award for his volunteer work at Phoebe Ministries, where he has enhanced the lives of its residents since 1994.
For the last 22 years, he drove the Phoebe bus three times a week to take residents into the community to go shopping, the farmers market, luncheons and IronPigs games.
With the help of his woodworking group, the Penn-Jersey Scrollers, he also created 365 wooden Phoebe logo designs to give to Phoebe skilled nursing residents at their annual holiday parties.
Hinkle also received the award for his dedication to his community and his volunteer work with veterans charged with minor crimes in the criminal justice system.
Hinkle, who served in the United States Army from 1965-1967, not only helps the veterans but he also gets to know their families as well as helps to strengthen the bonds between veterans and other family members.
He also serves on the boards of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Allentown Rescue Mission as well as help raise funds for his church, Bethany United Methodist Church, Allentown.
Hinkle said this award was made possible because of the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Veterans Mentoring Team.
Grim and Kelly, who were not present at the tribute, received the award for their years of volunteer work at Sacred Heart Hospital.
Scheuermann, 88, who was also absent, received the award for her exceptional volunteer work over the past five years at Cedarbrook Nursing Home in South Whitehall Township.
She began volunteering at the nursing home once a week to help the residents play pinochle.
Knowing how much they love to play, she now comes in twice a week so everyone has a chance to play.
Winkle closed the tribute by congratulating the honorees and thanking them for teaching everyone around them lessons of courage, sacrifice and selfless giving.
“Your values of hard work, determination and compassion benefit everyone and truly make a difference in our lives,” Winkle said.
“You are an inspiration to everyone both young and old and we hope you continue blazing those trails.”