2019 Jefferson Award winners announced

By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com

LIMA — The winners of the 2019 Jefferson Awards for Public Service have been announced by the United Way of Greater Lima. They include: Jenny and Joe Earl, Mike Melvin, Philip Compton, Kathy Gasser, Candace Newland, Cheryl Nagy, Sarah Feldner and Derry Glenn.

Youth award recipients include Emily Vandemark, Rebecca Dominguez, Emily Dienstberger and Lauren Cunningham.

Of the 12 recipients, one individual will be chosen as the region’s representative and travel to Washington D.C. in June for the national Jefferson Awards celebration.

Jenny and Joe Earl of Elida: To fill the need of Allen County students without access to adequate meals during weekends, Jenny and Joe Earl stepped up in 2010 to create the Meals ’Til Monday program. The couple now passes out food, upwards of 375 meals each weekend, to feed children in need. The Earls are also heavily involved in the Lima Community Church.

Mike Melvin of Lima: Melvin is Lima’s regional representative for Flag City Honor Flight, a nonprofit dedicated to providing veterans with honor and closure by flying them to the nation’s capital to tour its many war memorials. Since working with the group, Melvin has raised over $60,000 for the organization through a number of fundraisers held each year.

Philip Compton of Ada: Like many of the Jefferson Award winners listed here, Compton has an extensive volunteer career spanning decades. A few highlights include co-founding Table One in Kenton, working as chaplain for the Ada/Liberty volunteer fire department and being a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management, Hardin County Suicide Coalition and LOSS teams.

Kathy Gasser of Delphos: Upon retirement, Gasser increased her already impressive volunteer efforts for a number of senior-related agencies. Her work encompasses teaching Sunday Bible classes, being an active member of St. John’s, acting as a board member of the Senior Citizens Center, volunteering at Community Health Professionals and teaching balance classes at the Area Agency on Aging 3.

Candace Newland of Lima: A volunteer for more than a few nonprofits, Newland’s has worked with the Kiwanis Club of Lima, Diva’s Den, Rally Point, Unity Elementary School, Camp Robin Rogers, The League of Women Voters, Trinity Methodist Church and the Ottawa River Cleanup among others.

Cheryl Nagy of Lima: Heavily involved in the American Cancer Society’s annual Lima Relay for Life Nagy has raised over $1.7 million for the event in the past 22 years.

Sarah Feldner of Wapakoneta: A Perry High School science teacher by day, Feldner’s volunteer efforts are primarily associated with the Buckeye State Mounted Deputies Association. She recently became the group’s president. Feldner also serves as teacher advisor for Perry High School’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions.

Derry Glenn of Lima: As Lima’s Sixth Ward Councilor, Derry Glenn is heavily involved in many city initiatives to help those throughout Lima. Outside of official city business, he volunteers his time helping organize programs that provide upkeep for low-income housing. Additionally, Glenn’s coat and food drives provide Thanksgiving meals and outerwear for those in need.

Emily Vandemark of Lima: A Bath High School student, Vandemark began Bath Gatekeepers that focuses on teen suicide prevention. In its first year, Vandemark organized a 5K race that attracted 80 participants and sold 120 T-shirts printed with the suicide prevention hot-line.

Lauren Cunningham of Lima: The youngest Jefferson Award winner for 2019, the 13-year-old Bath Middle School student launched a series of blood drives after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Emily Dienstberger of Delphos: A scholar athlete, Dienstberger juggles school work, track and soccer with volunteering at the breakfast program for the St. Peter Lutheran Church and playing piano for residents of the Sara Jane Nursing Home.

Rebecca Dominguez of St. Marys: The brains behind the successful “Honoring Hometown Heroes” program in St. Marys, Dominguez brought the St. Marys community together to hang over 70 banners highlighting civic pride in the city. The program has been so successful that the City of St Marys is asking the 17-year-old to continue her work and hang another 140 banners by Memorial Day.

The Jefferson Awards for Public Service is sponsored by The Lima News, Your Hometown Lima Stations, the United Way of Greater Lima and Husky Energy.


By Josh Ellerbrock


Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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