The applause on April 20th echoed throughout the local fire department as the Columbus Area United Way honored 10 residents for their volunteerism, including City Councilman Charlie Bahr.
It was all part of the Columbus Area United Way’s Annual Meeting, an event hosted by the local nonprofit to provide the community with a report and reflection of the prior years’ impact and progress being made.
“April is volunteer appreciation month and we felt what better way to recognize outstanding community members at our Annual Meeting, where they can be highlighted and featured for their time and service to our community,” CAUW Executive Director Hope Freshour said.
The Columbus Area United Way, which serves Platte, Colfax, Boone and Nance counties, aims to focus resources to measurable improve the education, health and financial stability of the local community. Donations made to the local organization support the work of its Partner Agency Programs, Direct Programs and Community Partnerships. The CAUW currently provides funding to 17 fellow local nonprofits that rely on volunteers to help run programming focusing on the United Way’s pillars of education, financial stability and health.
The volunteers recognized on Thursday were nominated by a CAUW partner agency that explained it felt the person went above and beyond in their service to the organization, Freshour noted. Bahr was nominated by the Boy Scouts for his years of service, she said, adding he’s highly deserving of the recognition.
“Charlie is a tremendous volunteer for Boy Scouts and is active within the local group not only raising up the next generation of leaders but impacting the community through food drives, outreach and more,” said Freshour, who also serves on the Columbus City Council with him.
Also honored were Angela Houser (Habitat for Humanity); Clete Pillen (TeamMates); Diane Mimick (Center for Survivors); Elizabeth Hoskovec (Center for Survivors); Jean Kurtenbach (Habitat for Humanity); Joy Dannelly (CASA); Justin Groteluschen (Big Pals-Little Pals); Mary Raimondo (United Way); and Shannon Van Beek (Royal Family Kids).
After the presentation, Bahr was in somewhat disbelief.
“I look around and see all these other people who do so much more than I do, and I don’t know how they ended up with me as a nominee,” he said. “But I’m humbled and pleased.”
City Council, Boy Scouts and other various commitments throughout the years have kept Bahr plenty busy, but it’s never been about recognition. He said he just hopes to inspire others to get involved to help make a difference.
“You get out what you put into it. If you want something to happen, you have to be one of those making it happen. You can’t sit back in the chair with your feet up, taking it easy,” he said. “You have to hit the ground running and do the work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing.”
Attendees were treated to lunch as they listened in on Columbus Area United Way’s efforts to help the community and later the volunteer recognition presentation. Freshour said she was appreciative of Columbus Fire Chief Ryan Gray for allowing the nonprofit to utilize CFD, 460 Howard Blvd.
“The Columbus Fire Department Community Room is a top-notch facility that offers a wonderful space for our Annual Meeting,” Freshour said. “This is the second time we have held a meeting at the Fire Department and Chief Gray is always a pleasure to work with ensuring that all our needs are met to have a successful meeting and/or event.”
Freshour said she believes the Annual Meeting provides a great opportunity for various members of the community from multiple sectors to come together and converse with one another.
“From local business, schools, nonprofits, industry leaders, and community members, the Annual Meeting celebrates the unity of shared interests of ensuring our community has resources and services in place for our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors,” Freshour said.
“Each of us plays a role in our community and each of us can have a positive impact upon the growth, development and outcome of our community. We look forward to engaging more community members, businesses, and industry as we continue to partner and connect to have a healthy, safe, growing and thriving community.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Area United Way Board of Directors President Josh Johnson, left, City Councilman Charlie Bahr, CAUW Vice President Al Starzec and CAUW Executive Director Hope Freshour during the Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 20th, 2023, at the Columbus Fire Department. Freshour and Bahr are also members of the Columbus City Council.)