"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Msgr. William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award and the Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award. Winners will be honored during Catholic Charities’ Annual Recognition Dinner on May 31.

The Msgr. William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award is given to individuals demonstrating a significant, long-term commitment (professional or volunteer) to serving the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable within our diocesan community. This year's winners include: Donald Belsey (Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Altoona), Mary Lou Waugerman (St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, Bedford), and Millie Bodenschatz (Holy Name Parish, Ebensburg).

The Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award is given to elementary and high school students for demonstrating exceptional service to their communities, specifically to the poor and needy. This year's winners include: Marissa Smilnak (11th grade, Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School), Danielle Miller (12th grade, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School), Ryan Allen Statler (12th grade, Windber Area High School), Emmalee Mizera (3rd grade, Jackson Elementary School), Kathleen Price (12th grade, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School), and Samuel Penna (6th grade, Divine Mercy Catholic Academy--East Campus).

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

Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award Nominations

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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