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"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award winners

Msgr. William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award winners

With the Most Reverend Bishop Mark Bartchak in attendance, families, friends, colleagues, and community members gathered at The Altoona Grand Hotel on May 31 to honor nine outstanding individuals. Six elementary and high school students were presented with the Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award, given for demonstrating exceptional service to their communities; while three adults received the Msgr. William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award for their significant commitment to serving the most vulnerable within our diocesan community.

The following adults were presented with the Msgr. William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award, given to individuals demonstrating a significant, long-term commitment (professional or volunteer) to serving the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable within our diocesan community:

Donald Belsey
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Altoona

As director of Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s Assumption Chapel Food Pantry, Donald organizes and supervises volunteers to help the pantry run at optimal efficiency. In his 10+ years as Director, Donald has grown food donations from $300,000 to more than $1 million annually.

"Don has great supervisory skills as well as a heart for serving the poor."
- Fr. Joe Lehman, Saint Francis University


Mary Lou Waugerman

St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, Bedford

Mary Lou is a founding member of the St. Thomas Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Over the last 13 years she has worked diligently to sustain the conference operation, promote its growth, and provide direct comfort and assistance to those in need in rural Bedford County. She is a faithful volunteer, serving as a role model for incoming volunteers.

Mary Lou's commitment to serving the most vulnerable extended to her professional life as well. During her long career as a reading specialist in the Spring Cove School District, she undertook the challenging specialized training to become a Reading Recovery teacher. In this vocation she provided intensive instruction for the 20 percent of lowest achieving first grade students in the school district.

"Through her volunteer work and her professional career, Mary Lou exemplifies the qualities set forth in Matthew 25, that is, a sustained dedication to the welfare of the disadvantaged and vulnerable."
- Judy Plummer, St. Vincent DePaul Society, St. Thomas Conference

Millie Bodenschatz
Holy Name Parish, Ebensburg

A member of the Cambria County Habitat for Humanity, she has helped build homes for the last 10 years. She is active in Catholic Daughters, having served as Treasurer and Financial Secretary. Millie worked diligently for the Haiti Mission, collecting items for the poor in Haiti and traveled to Haiti with her daughter to help the poor.

Active with Ebensburg St. Vincent de Paul for 20+ years, she has been heavily involved with both in the store and the food bank. She assists the Carmelite Nuns of the Word in Gallitzin, and supports and assists in most parish activities at Holy Name, including festivals, food collectino for the poor, the Angel Tree, Holy Name School Endowment, dinners, fundraisers, and Bible School. She also serves as a Eucharistic Minister.

"Millie's consistent efforts in being there and helping national and local communities make her deserving of this award."
- Sandra Inzana, Vice Regent of Ebensburg, Court 680; President of the Holy Name St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference in Ebensburg


The following children and adolescents were presented with the Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award, given to elementary and high school students for demonstrating exceptional service to their communities, specifically to the poor and needy.

Marissa Smilnak
11th grade, Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School

St. Mary’s Church, Hollidaysburg

Marissa volunteers each Sunday in the summer with Batter’s Up, a baseball league for persons with disabilities at the Miracle League field—specially made for people with disabilities so they can get on the field. She greets players and helps organize games. She is also active as an Arc Drama Troupe mentor, , meeting once a week to help people with intellectual disabilities practice acting skills and build confidence in their acting abilities.

"I have learned that a person is better defined by their abilities."
- Marissa Smilnak


Danielle Miller

12th grade, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School

St. John the Evangelist, Lakemont (Altoona)

At St. John, Danielle is a Catechist for second graders preparing for their First Holy Communion, Eucharistic minister, and a station leader at vacation bible school.

Four times a year, Danielle volunteers for Love Feast, providing hot meals for hundreds of less fortunate in downtown Altoona. She also volunteers weekly for the Mountain Lion Backpack Program, providing elementary children in the Altoona Area School District when other resources may not be available to them. The organization provides meals for 1,300 children every Thursday.

"It is clear to see that Danielle is doing God's work. She is always willing to help and is never without a smile."
- Mary Haenig, Director of Religious Education, St. John the Evangelist

Ryan Allen Statler
12th grade, Windber Area High School

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Windber

Since age 14, Ryan has been training to be a firefighter. He has logged more than 695 training hours and assisted with more than 244 calls. He holds multiple certifications, and spends many hours assisting with elementary and secondary school fire safety programs, mentoring children and teens in the rules of being safe, and giving fire truck tours.

He has also been involved with St. Anthony Parish's mission trip to rural Appalachia, where he helped the team paint and repair a rural church in one of America's poorest areas. The group also visited homes for the aged, sharing food, prayers, and fellowship.

Ryan is also active with Scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout in 2016. He is a certified lifeguard and instructor of basic first aid classes. He assists with placing American flags on the gravesites of veterans and helps with the Memorial and Veteran Day programs in the area. As a member of the Windber High School National Honor Society, Ryan helps with community food drives and dinners. He also helps wiht St. Anthony of Padua parish festivals.

"What is 'above and beyond' for most teens is everyday commonplace for Ryan. His respect for all human life is a tangible quality and service to his fellow man is not just an abstract ideal."
- Roxann Newcomer, Director of Religious Education, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church


Emmalee Mizera

3rd grade, Jackson Elementary School

Protection Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian Catholic Church, Revloc

Nine-year-old Emmalee Mizera has dedicated her young life to helping those in need in Cambria County. She noticed that book choices were limited in her school library, and organized a book drive for the school.

Using her sewing talent to create blankets, she donates homemade blankets to babies and children entering the Martha and Mary House homeless shelter. She has also organized supply drives for the shelter and helped make baked goods for residents and attendees during a recent open house at the shelter.

Emmalee is also active in her school orchestra and serves as Junior Communication Officer for her 4H Club. She has also been nominated for the Atoms Scholar Program.

"From a young age Emmalee has used the talents that God has given her to bring joy, comfort, and happiness to all she meets."
- Danielle Bowers, Director/Lead Case Manager, Martha and Mary House

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