CURWENSVILLE – A church group – Arlene’s Knitting and Crocheting Angels – was presented with the Service Above Self Award by the Curwensville Rotary Club following the Curwensville Days Vesper Service on Sunday.
In the early 2000’s, the group was formed at a local church, and named after the pastor at that time. Its members started small by knitting and crocheting lap robes and blankets for infants and baptism items.
Then, they began knitting and crocheting shawls, chemo and premature baby caps, etc., and they were gifting them to people in need. They were also making scarves and mittens and giving them away at a local food pantry.
They knitted sweaters from a Guideposts magazine pattern, and they were sent to New York City for distribution to needy people worldwide.
Another group project was collecting plastic grocery bags and crocheting them into mats. They were sent to all corners of the globe to be used for sleeping mats that could easily be rinsed off and used over.
When the cost of shipping overseas became cost restrictive, the group joined forces with others in the Pittsburgh and Altoona areas to supply the mats to the homeless once again.
Their most recent project has been knitting blankets and donating them in honor of Brody Lanich to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. With the help of Lisa Walnock, yarn supply companies have donated to this project.
This group was a part of the RSVP program at the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging and has logged thousands of hours annually for doing great deeds for Curwensville, Pennsylvania and the world.
Current group members are: Carol Mallone, Yvonne Stewert, Peggy Bakaysa, Carol Michaels, Sharon Durandetta, Sue VonGunden, Emily VonGunden and Pauline French. Two former active members, Shirley Miller and Dorothy Leach, have passed away.
Since 1971, 39 people, eight groups and two businesses from Curwensville have been presented the Citizen of the Year/Service Above Self Award.
The first award was given by the former Curwensville Jaycees, which presented it once. In 1974, the Curwensville Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary gave its only presentation.
Two years later in 1976, the Curwensville Rotary Club took over and has given this award every year since.
The club bases its selection on the Rotary International Motto: “Service Above Self,” which means it’s better to serve others than to be served.
According to Bill Williams Jr., chairman, the people, groups or businesses, which have received the award over the years, have given freely of their time and talents without any thoughts of personal/monetary gain or honors.
He explained that because of this and the ever-changing demographics of volunteerism and community contributions, the Curwensville Rotary Club changed the name of the award from “Citizen of the Year” to “Service Above Self” several years ago.
“This honor is not a trophy to be won or an accolade of small significance,” Williams said. “This is an achievement that has to be earned.”
He added that past recipients have not necessarily been the most notable in the community but have worked for the common good of others in Curwensville and beyond.
“They did it because it was the right thing to do, because they want to see their community thrive and grow and because they realize that Curwensville is a great place to live and raise a family.”
The past five winners have been: 2012, Curwensville Community Center board; 2013, Julie Girardi; 2014, Pauline Bennett; 2015, Curwensville Food Pantry volunteers; and 2016, Peggy Sass.
The selection committee consisted of Curwensville Rotary Club members. Also, in order to broaden its nominee pool, it accepted nominations from fellow service clubs, fraternal organizations and the community at-large.
Each nominee is then researched to determine who would be most worthy of the honor that year. Several years ago, the club expanded its potential recipient pool to include groups, organizations and or businesses.