AW Community Filled With Kind People

Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry volunteers gather around food donations before distributing bags and boxes to people in need on December 12. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — All it takes is one act of kindness to brighten someone’s day.

It doesn’t take any heroic effort to volunteer, speak kind words or listen to someone in need.

When The Mirror asked readers to recognize others for their acts of kindness, the response was overwhelming. The Anthony Wayne Community is full of giving, loving people who go out of their way to make a difference, even if it’s just with a simple act or attitude.

In today’s edition, we’re sharing the first half of more than 30 names of individuals and organizations that were submitted, yet there are many more who are too humble to share their stories. Perhaps it’s you!

The Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry

Poverty can occur anywhere. That’s why the Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry (AWCFM) has continued to see a steady increase in the number of people showing up for food distributions twice a month.

Just before Thanksgiving, the team of volunteers served 211 in the drive-thru pickup – where clients are handed bags of boxed and canned foods, meats, eggs and even deer meat in season. 

“Now, we’re averaging over 150 per distribution,” said AWCFM president Ron Shoemaker. “As the volume has gone up, so has the number of volunteers.”

That’s why Ellen Gerber wanted to recognize the volunteers for their Acts of Kindness.

“Dozens of volunteers work tirelessly to help feed our neighbors in need during these difficult economic times,” she said.

The 30 or more volunteers organize and sort food into bags, check qualifications and place bags into vehicles. Those wanting to volunteer will get a walk-through of the operation at Waterville Community Church to find an area that suits their abilities, Ron said.

“We’re blessed to have those volunteers. We’re always searching for volunteers since the core are retirees and some go to Florida over the winter,” he added. “Especially in the winter, it’s a challenge to keep the staffing at those levels.”

The AWCFM has also expanded its network of support in the community – including churches, schools, businesses and other organizations that hold food drives or make monetary donations so that food can be purchased in bulk rates from the Northwest Ohio Food Bank and the Toledo Seagate Food bank.

The AWCFM is also the umbrella organization for a weekend food bag program headed up by Amy Barrett. Donations support purchasing snacks and meals that are easy for a child to open or prepare. These are given weekly to the 125 Anthony Wayne students who qualify based on income. Typically, the food is purchased at Sam’s Club or Costco in order to make it kid-friendly, and that costs about $2,000 a month.

As Waterville Com-munity Church plans a major renovation in 2024, the AWCFM will co-lease along with the church the former Maxx Fitness facility in The Shops at Fallen Timbers. 

“We’re going to relocate there with the church sometime in February or March, and that will be our temporary home for a year,” Ron said. “After that, the church has allocated space where we can continue our operations, but only for three years based on their growth pattern.”

The AWCFM is looking at long-term solutions, such as fundraising for an outbuilding on the site.

“Our hope is to build a building that exceeds our need and creates a community building that other organizations can use,” he said. 

It’s been 10 years since the AWCFM was formed to meet the needs of a growing community, and Ron started as a volunteer before joining the board.

“I think there’s people that enjoy volunteering. It gives them a lot of satisfaction,” he said. “We even have recipients who are volunteers.”

For more information, visit www.awcfm.com.

Allison Aey

In the four years since Allison Aey stepped into the role of executive director of Nature’s Nursery, she’s had an impact on both the people and animals who live in our community.

The nonprofit organization has grown into its new headquarters on Dutch Road, expanded its educational programs, and still managed to maintain an ever-growing list of injured, ailing or orphaned animals being dropped off or picked up by volunteers.

“This summer, while walking, I came across a very injured rabbit that I knew couldn’t survive,” said Terri Massucci. “I sent Allison a message, and within 20 minutes she was there to capture it and take care of it. Allison does countless things for the animals in the area.”

As executive director, Allison leads a small paid staff and hundreds of volunteers who tend to wildlife ranging from raptors and crows to snakes, turtles, squirrels, ducks and rabbits. So far this year, Nature’s Nursery has taken in 3,465 animals. She has also written two children’s books that promote Nature’s Nursery: One Friendly Fox and One Special Owl.

In addition to her tireless promoting of the nonprofit, Allison owns and operates Love Local Marketing, which helps local businesses with marketing and media. Allison also founded and continues to serve as the sole moderator for the 8,000-member Anthony Wayne Area Community Group on Facebook – which focuses on bringing Waterville, Whitehouse and Monclova residents together to support area businesses and people. With three children in Anthony Wayne Local Schools, Allison also lends her marketing skills to programs including band and choir. 

Married to Kurt, Allison and her family enjoy vacationing in warm places when not out and about in the community.

Shannon Blaesing

Shannon Blaesing is a ray of sunshine for her third-grade students at Monclova Primary School.

“She invites her students to find joy in everything they do,” said Mari Ness. “She offers comfort and makes her classroom feel like their home away from home.”

Even after students leave Monclova, Shannon continues to make an impact on their lives by attending sporting events, choir and band concerts. Earlier in this school year, one of her former students – senior soccer player Teagan Ferrington – named Shannon as the most impactful teacher in her life. 

That honor is a reminder of just why she started teaching 18 years ago, Shannon said. 

“Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I love what I do and am so blessed to teach where I do.”

At Monclova Primary, Shannon said she gets a chance to model kind communication strategies, empathy, sharing and respect for others. 

“Teaching is such a blessing because I get to help my students become more creative and have a positive, bucket-filling mindset,” she said. “Promoting a family environment, bucket-filling classroom that promotes being respectful, responsible and safe is so important to me.”

In addition to her role at the school, Shannon also serves the community through CedarCreek Church. In the fall, she volunteered at a back-to-school event, passing out school supplies to families in need within the Anthony Wayne Community.

“While families were there, she made sure to make personal connections with each person. She made them all feel welcomed and loved,” Mari said.

Shannon lives in Whitehouse with her husband Chad and three children: Gavin, 13; Violet, 9, and Oliver, 6.

Matt Beakas

Matt Beakas uplifts others through his actions and his words, performing acts of kindness in his everyday role as an educator, a volunteer and a team member.

“Matt has an inner ability to give,” said his co-worker at Waterville Primary School, Debbie Jacoby.

At school, Matt will drop what he’s doing to assist co-workers and students and goes out of his way to help staff members become better, without looking to take any credit, she said. This year, he launched General’s Print Shop, a student-led 3-D printing factory where students designed, printed and sold items during the General’s Gift Shop fundraiser for the school.

In the community, Matt is a volunteer firefighter and instructor. He dedicates a lot of his time coaching his daughters in softball. He also spent countless hours educating the community about the need for AWLS operational and bond levies, Debbie said.

“Matt is a true servant leader,” she said.

Matt is in his fourth year as dean of students at Waterville Primary School but has been with the district since 2007, teaching at the junior high school.

“One of the amazing things about my role at Waterville is working directly with Dr. Hollinger and the staff. My role is unique and covers a lot of areas, which makes every day different and exciting,” he said. “I spend a good portion of my day working with students needing some additional math intervention, planning and implementing our STEAM initiatives, organizing building-wide events, and working with Dr. Hollinger on improving our personalized learning approach.”

Since coming to Waterville, he’s been able to work with several newer programs, including the LEGO club, General’s Print Shop, the Globe Symposium and summer learning programming, which was funded through a large Ohio Department of Education grant. 

“I’ve always loved teaching and making a positive organizational impact,” he said. “Every day is different, and I’ve always embodied the lifelong learner mindset.”

As part of his own lifelong learning, Matt is working on his doctorate in educational leadership.

“The field of education is about to undergo one of the biggest fundamental shifts in assessment, student engagement and career development with the emergence of AI platforms,” he noted. “We must stay at the forefront of giving each student the necessary skills to remain competitive in the current job market.”

His role as an educator extends beyond Waterville Primary. 

Inspired by his father, David Beakas – who has 32 years in the fire service – Matt is a firefighter/EMT who teaches classes ranging from initial state-level certifications to live-fire events. 

“From the leadership perspective, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about morals, ethics, vision and how workplace environments significantly impact employee recruitment and retention, especially when organizations lack or compromise those core values,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some great mentors and the opportunity to teach all across the United States. For me, the fast problem-solving and cohesion built among teams is something I admire the most.”

Matt is also co-chair of the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Reg-ional Fire School, which draws around 1,200 first responders from throughout the U.S. each year for a free weekend of training on EMS, fire, rescue and hazmat topics. It’s a massive undertaking that supports local first responders and their education.

“We’ve created a 21st-century learning experience and opportunity, and with that, we are now being supported by state-level funding to cover most of the costs associated with the school,” he said. 

Stephanie Buckenmeyer

Stephanie Buckenmeyer is extremely smart and passionate about student achievement and career development, spending hours analyzing data and coaching staff to ensure that instructional practices yield the best student outcomes, said Rebecca Schwan, communication specialist for Anthony Wayne Local Schools.

As the assistant principal of curriculum and career development for grades 7-12, Stephanie has done outstanding work to provide opportunities for junior high and high school students to learn about their post-high school options, Rebecca said.

“I think she knows every student’s name and something about their interests, and she is quick to engage them in that conversation,” Rebecca said. “Stephanie’s insight and input is invaluable in any team or committee meeting, and she leads with a spirit of collaboration and continuous improvement. She has immeasurable drive.”

A 2003 Anthony Wayne graduate, Stephanie earned a B.A. in mathematics and a bachelor of education degree concurrently from The University of Toledo. She began teaching high school math for Evergreen Local Schools before joining her alma mater in 2010, teaching junior high math for six years. With a master of education degree from Bowling Green State University, Stephanie became assistant principal and athletic director at the junior high before taking on the role of grade 7-12 assistant principal and career development in the fall of 2019.

“I love helping students to grow, discover their potential, and be the best versions of themselves. I also love to assist students in exploring what their future holds after high school,” she said. “Additionally, I enjoy working with our teachers to help them provide the best education possible for our students. Helping to prepare the students for their life beyond high school is a passion of mine.”

Working to make connections between students and local industries and to stay updated on careers, the needs of various professions and fields of study, Stephanie is constantly networking with local businesses and professionals. 

Business leaders, professionals and others working in the AW community are encouraged to contact her to continue to build connections to best prepare students for careers. Students can sign up for career talks and field trips, either live or online, to learn about the possibilities for after high school in areas ranging from plant biology, real estate and accounting to neurosurgery, teaching, psychology and many more. Visit www. anthonywayneschools.org/careereducation for details on current programming and information on the upcoming Future Generals Partnership Program, which will be unveiled in early spring.

Married to fellow AW alum Mike Buckenmeyer, the couple have two children in the district: C.J. and Audra. Stephanie is currently working on her doctorate of education degree at Johns Hopkins University.

Alice Burkhardt

As a member of Hope United Methodist Church, Alice Burkhardt goes out of her way to help those who are homebound or ill, said Pam Lukachek.

“Every month, she handmakes cards to send to the shut-ins and ill members. She organizes teams of people to visit the shut-ins. For people who can’t drive, she drives people to church and lunch, and I’m sure does many other things I don’t know about,” Pam said. “She has a servant’s heart!”

About five years ago, Alice became chair of the church’s Congregational Chair Committee, whose members visit people in nursing homes or those who are homebound.

“I like to make cards, so I thought we would send cards from the church to the people who are shut in or those in the hospital,” she said.

From her home craft studio in Waterville, she uses cardstock, stamps and dies to design about 30 cards a month to send to those who are homebound or ill.

“I like to make cards. This keeps me busy and gives me something to do,” said Alice, who worked as a secretary at Fallen Timbers Middle School before moving on to The University of Toledo. 

She also arranges for a team to visit shut-ins, bringing along a small gift around Easter and Christmas.

Annette Carulli

Annette Carulli is an Ever-ready bunny when it comes to volunteering, said friend Diana Martin.

“She has a very kind, giving heart along with being a super wife, mother and grandmother,” Diana said.

When two of her daughters – Stephanie and Mary Beth – worked for American Lebanese Syrian Association Charities (ALSAC) St. Jude offices, Annette first got involved in raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. ALSAC, founded by Danny Thomas, raises 89 percent of the funds needed to sustain and grow the hospital system that treats children with cancer, at no cost to the families.

“I would volunteer at their fundraising events whenever I visited,” Annette said of her daughters. “Often, former St. Jude patients and their families would attend these events and talk of their St. Jude experience. I was impressed by how they spoke about the excellent care they received. Everyone, from the doctors to the nurses, goes the extra mile. Even the cook in the cafeteria used a patient’s grandmother’s macaroni and cheese recipe to get the young boy to start eating.

“Cancer is such a horrible disease, and the hospital staff does everything they can to ease the fears of their patients and parents,” Annette added.

In 2004, Toledo started a St. Jude Dream Home campaign. Stephanie referred her mom to a counterpart in Detroit to get the program started in Toledo, and Annette has been involved ever since.

“I recruit and schedule volunteers for the Dream Home’s open houses as well as answering donor questions,” Annette said. “While I enjoy meeting and talking with everyone who visits the home, the main reason I volunteer is because of the children and families helped by the money raised. Last year, the Toledo Dream Home campaign raised $2 million.”

In addition to St. Jude, Annette previously volunteered with Backpacks for Humans, collecting items for homeless families. With Bethlehem Lutheran Church, she and a team hold a monthly “life essentials” giveaway – providing clothing, bedding, sheets, towels, toys and home decor to over 100 families. She also volunteers with Aurora Project and the Sunshine Com-munity Food Pantry.

When her three daughters and son were in school, she volunteered with the PTA and served as a reading buddy for her grandchildren’s classrooms. 

“I have volunteered since I was young. I remember going door to door, collecting money for a hospital telethon when I was in sixth grade,” she said. “I never thought about why I volunteer or that what I do is special. If there is a need in our community, I do what I can to help.”

Taylor Case

To illustrate Taylor Case’s commitment to serving the community, Les Case Jr. shared a photo of his daughter sleeping upright on a sofa.

“The picture says it all. At the end of a long night of stressful work, she didn’t even make it to bed,” he said of Taylor, who first became an ER nurse at St. Luke’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. She now works as an ER nurse in the ProMedica freestanding ER in Maumee.

“She constantly gets compliments from staff and patients on how she has touched their lives and how she goes out of her way to help those in need, putting them before herself,” Les said.

Taylor credits her dad for getting her interested in becoming an ER nurse. Les is a captain and paramedic at Monclova Township Fire and Rescue, and Taylor was able to grow up in the department and see how the team practices medicine and care for patients.

“I always wanted to be a nurse because I knew I would be able to connect with patients and care for them in a way they deserved,” she said. “Seeing my dad serve in the community as a paramedic for 24 years really inspired me to carry on his legacy in a bit of a different light. While working in the ER, I have been able to take over patient care for people he transported to the hospital. That has been a great experience for both of us.”

Taylor, a 2019 Anthony Wayne High School graduate, was able to complete her first year of college while still in high school, due to the College Credit Plus program. She then finished her four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2-1/2 years at The University of Toledo, graduating in December 2021 with magna cum laude honors.

“I love a lot about my job, but my favorite thing is getting to help patients and families in an emergency and help them through what could be looked at as one of their worst days,” she said. “Being able to put a smile on someone’s face and help calm their nerves is something I really enjoy. And I love the variety of patients I get to see in the ER, such as infants, pediatrics, adults and geriatrics.”

In addition to her work as an ER nurse, Taylor is a substitute nurse for Anthony Wayne Local Schools.

“I love being able to go back and see my former teachers and see how the schools and community have changed and grown,” she said. “And I love being able to help pediatrics in a different way than in the emergency department.”

Tiffany Eckert

Whether sharing the story of losing her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Andy Eckert, in the Iraq War, overseeing the operation of Mr. Agne’s Closet or coaching broomball, Tiffany Eckert always shows others kindness and empathy.

“She is a tireless ambassador for Folds of Honor, a national organization that provides scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen or disabled military, traveling the country to share her story of resilience with others,” explained Michelle Roush. Recently, Tiffany joined the board of Task Force 20, a nonprofit that provides gym memberships and camaraderie for veterans dealing with symptoms of PTSD and depression.

With a bachelor’s degree in hand, Tiffany returned to Bowling Green State University to work on her master’s degree in public administration. While hired as a grad assistant with Mr. Agne’s Career Collection – a BGSU outreach that provides free professional attire to students – she went above and beyond to increase the collection by contacting colleagues and picking up clothes that will enable students to dress for success.

Tiffany recently accepted a congressional fellowship in Ohio’s 9th District, serving full time while working on her master’s degree.

“I want to be in a collaborative leadership role in a public space. I want to leave a mark on this world and be a light in someone’s day,” she said. 

As the coach of a Glass City Broomball team, she focuses not only on teaching and coaching the game, but on promoting character. Her team won the league’s Character Award last year. Tiffany helped form the league, which now has 200 girls on 16 teams, with the goal of making it available despite the need to pay.  

“We fundraise so the girls can just show up and play,” she said.

Growing up in California and then moving to Toledo while her dad was in med school, Tiffany said she remembers money was tight and the family had to use food stamps.

“I’ll never forget that. Some girls are in similar positions where they don’t have the resources. I provide all of the equipment and sponsor jerseys. It’s my way of giving back,” she said.

Throughout all of her volunteering and work, she is sure to honor Andy and other veterans.

“I started my journey as a military spouse. I have never forgotten that or the veterans who are still living,” she said.

She also works daily to ensure that she can be a light in someone’s day.

“At the end of the day, all people want is to be acknowledged and listened to,” she said.

Tiffany is the mother of three: Marlee, Myles and Berkley.

Ann and Jim Gasser

Ann and Jim Gasser are instrumental in the success of the Whitehouse Library.

As a nonprofit organization, the Whitehouse Library is open to anyone – even those outside of Whitehouse – to check out books at no charge. Because it is separate from the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL), the Whitehouse Library relies on donations and dedicated volunteers like the Gassers, said Linda Baker.

As the head librarian, Ann chooses all the books and is always willing to acquire a requested book to add to the collection. Her expertise is reflected in the children’s section that she keeps stocked with the most popular children’s books, Linda said. 

After spending over 30 years with the TLCPL, Ann was reading The Mirror in 2004 and saw a notice that the new Whitehouse Library was looking for volunteers. While she continues to sub for her former employer, she was looking for a way to support the community.

 

“I saw it as a good fit for me and my library background,” Ann said. “I love volunteering there since it keeps me busy running the day-to-day operations and interacting with other volunteers and the patrons old and new. I love nothing more than finding the information or books that patrons ask for. It’s so gratifying to me.”

Jim got corralled into volunteering by Ann after some of the older volunteers were no longer able to help. 

“He is pretty much our building’s go-to guy for repairs, upkeep and critter control – we’ve had several skunks and possums under the building damaging ducts and wiring over the years,” she said.

Jim is also the treasurer and offers astronomy classes and viewing at the library, Linda added.

A recently retired engineer, Jim worked in the aerospace and automotive industries in Toledo, doing design and program management.  

“When I was still working, my time at the library was limited, but when the need for a board member and treasurer arose in 2020, I was elected,” said Jim, who was the Anthony Wayne Band Boosters’ treasurer for six years – a position that prepared him to take on the treasurer’s position at the library. 

He now spends a few days a week looking after the books, the facilities, the computer system and any other needs.

“The library staff and management is an all-volunteer, unpaid group of people who work very hard and are very responsible in handling the library finances and earnest in their approach to education, programming and entertainment for the community,” he said. “My job is easy because they are so good. The library will be celebrating 20 years of existence next year, so we definitely have a proven track record.”

With time now available, Jim has also been able to channel his lifelong passion for astronomy and aviation into programming. 

“I was mentored by a great amateur astronomer and naturalist in the 1970s, Dr. Miriam Bell, who had a significant impact on me and cemented my love of astronomy, as did the NASA space program of the era,” Jim said. “My dad was a WWII veteran who served on a B-24 bomber, was shot down and became a POW, and his stories fostered my interest in aviation. My first engineering job was designing jet engine components at Teledyne in Toledo and that taught me a lot about jet engines. So, yes, I am a technical nerd and proud of it.”

For four years, Jim has also served as a volunteer with Metroparks Toledo, helping to conduct the park system’s monthly Star Struck programs of nighttime telescope and daytime solar observing. The Whitehouse Library is now a partner with Metroparks, and they support the library by promoting the astronomy programs on their website as part of Star Struck.   

“I love observing, but what I love even more is showing the wonder and beauty to others,” he said. “Showing someone the rings of Saturn for the first time never disappoints! I try to inspire folks to notice and appreciate the natural world, and science in general.”

Wendy Gray

Wendy Gray’s passion for Waterville is contagious,” said Janet Mohr-mann.

“When I think of acts of kindness, Wendy is the first person that comes to mind. Her attitude is contagious,” Janet said. “Waterville is lucky to have her talent and skills.”

For the past six years, Wendy has been involved in lighting up downtown Waterville and organizing a community celebration.

“Christmas has always meant so much to me for many reasons. It’s not about the gifts but about coming together as families, friends and community,” she said. “I truly enjoy working with all of the wonderful volunteers to bring Waterville to life for the Christmas season with each year adding a little more to the festivities.”

The owner of 3rd Street Blooms Floral and Gifts, Wendy first started a Christmas event for the city in 2017 and 2018, then assisted others with the festivities in 2019. Through the shop, she hosted an open Christmas celebration in 2021 and expanded it to become citywide again in 2022 and 2023.

“My reason for wanting to create the Christmas event is to bring the magic for all to enjoy and keeping in mind that maybe for some, this might be their only celebration, and that in itself is huge! To see so many people come together laughing, hugging, children singing and smiling says it all,” she said. “Thank you so much again to everyone who was involved in helping to make Waterville so amazing because we all did this together.”

A Waterville native and Anthony Wayne graduate, Wendy launched 3rd Street Blooms eight years ago. Decorating and floral work has always been a passion, and it allows her to meet people who share their personal stories.

“Some make me laugh and others make me cry. I am very humbled to be a part of these moments that are so important in their lives,” she said. “I love our community and want to see great things for Waterville.”

Wendy is married to Tom, also an AW graduate, and they raised their three daughters in Waterville, seeing them also graduate from Anthony Wayne.

“Wendy has done a fabulous job not only with Christmas but with every holiday,” said Deb Guzman. “We are blessed to have her in our community.”

Doug Howard and Stephanie Kuhlman

Hats off to Stephanie Kuhlman and her husband Doug Howard, said Waterville Mayor Tim Pedro.

“They both worked together to spearhead the Home of the Brave – a home built to raise money for the Folds of Honor,” Pedro said. 

 

A national nonprofit organization, Folds of Honor is on a mission to equip and educate the children and sometimes spouses of fallen or disabled veterans, explained Chuck Radabaugh, CPO and general manager for American Interiors – which launched a Folds of Honor chapter in Toledo five years ago. 

Tom Schlachter, president of The Moses-Schlachter Group Inc. and Farnsworth Investors Inc., had an idea to build a home that would be sold to raise money for the nonprofit. He pitched the idea to Doug – builder for Farnsworth Village – and Stephanie, vice president of real estate and development at NAI Harmon Group. Both readily agreed. The couple has two sons who are currently in the military, so they understand the mission of supporting veterans.

While Doug and Stephanie spearheaded the Home of the Brave at 1730 Henline Way, it took dozens of contractors and suppliers providing materials and labor at no cost to make it truly a donated home. When it was unveiled last summer, the home quickly sold for $510,000, with all funds benefiting Folds of Honor and the military families it serves.

“With Stephanie and Doug and their leadership, they are helping those who have served our country,” the mayor said.

Cheryl Kertesz

After retiring from teaching, Cheryl Kertesz missed working with kids – but not for long.

“Cheryl started volunteering in my classroom several years ago when I taught her granddaughter,” said first-grade teacher Julie Hull. “Since then, she has asked to return each year. This year, one day was not enough. She wanted to volunteer in other classrooms as well.”

Now, Cheryl travels around to several classrooms, four days a week.

“She does anything that is needed, from sorting materials for the teachers to helping out with testing to listening to children read. She donates books and materials as well,” Julie said. “Students look forward to working with ‘Mrs. K’ because she is so upbeat and kind. Her excitement about seeing students’ progress is infectious! I always thank her for working with my students and her response is this: ‘Thank you for allowing me to come. This means so much to me.’”

Cheryl said she loves working with the children, especially when they suddenly grasp an idea, and she can see the light bulb go off.

“The kids give you a lot of love,” she said earlier this month, as she took a break from leading children through a Secret Santa shop in the gym. 

Not only does she work one on one with students, but she also assists teachers in material management and organization, student testing completed by the Title I reading team and a variety of other tasks, added Andrea Donley. 

“She is constantly asking if we need help and is willing to spend as much time as needed to assist the students and staff at Whitehouse. Her cheerful personality and love for learning comes out as she works with all of her kiddos. We are so blessed to have her in our building!”

First-grade teacher Sarah Tokmak agrees, calling Cheryl a tireless volunteer who comes up with creative ways to practice and review first-grade skills.

“My students absolutely love working with her! I appreciate the individual attention she gives to each one of my students,” Sarah said.

In addition to volunteering at the school, Cheryl helps out with Scouts BSA and fostering dogs. 

Diana King

Diana King really loves kids and supporting the Anthony Wayne community, said Lisa Lomont.

“She always does everything with such a giving heart. She is always willing to help where needed and has a very fun demeanor. She is a joy to be around,” Lisa said.

With the Girl Scouts, Diana is a troop leader after holding several other volunteer positions.

“I believe very much in the organization, what it stands for and what it can do for girls. Every girl should have the opportunity to be involved – I could go on for hours,” said Diana, who is a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, named for the founder of the Girl Scouts.

Diana is a volunteer coach with the Anthony Wayne equestrian team, along with Cherie Blair. When their girls were seniors and the coaches decided to step down, Diana and Cherie agreed to take over, making sure that other kids who ride horses would have the opportunity to be a part of the team. Even after their daughters graduated, the two remained as coaches.

“I love it because I don’t have horses anymore and it gives me the chance to be around them. I also love to see the growth as riders perfect their skills and try new things,” Diana said.

At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Diana volunteers in the choir and anywhere else she is needed.

“I’ve been a member of this church for almost 30 years, so I help when I can,” Diana said.

As a volunteer on the Lucas County Agricultural Society’s board of directors, Diana works on the parade and Kids’ Day at the Lucas County Fair and throughout the year. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when daycares were at half capacity, she started Diana’s Daycare in her Monclova Township home.

“I was so happy to help out. People couldn’t work without good, reliable daycare. And I love kids and babies. It’s the best ‘job’ I’ve ever had,” she said.

Married to Jeff, they have a blended family of seven adult children and six grandchildren.

Wayne King

Wayne King is willing to help in any way he can – supporting military families, speaking to students, maintaining the lawns at his church and even volunteering during local elections, said Christine Young.

“He is so giving and helpful to our community,” said Christine, who appreciates Wayne’s support of the Anthony Wayne Junior High’s Purple Star Generals program and its children of military families.

Since retiring after 47 years with AT&T in 2013, Wayne has kept busy. With the Whitehouse American Legion Post 384, he is currently the chaplain and second vice commander. Wayne checks in with Korean and World War II veterans who are shut-ins, provides military services for funerals, and heads up the honor guard for funerals, parades and special events. He is also in charge of the Legion’s hall rental and works during the big breakfast and steak fry events.

Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Wayne collects a team of volunteers, including Purple Star Generals and Cub Scouts, to place flags on the graves of veterans in the four area cemeteries.

For the past 12 years or so, he’s also led the Memorial Day programs held in Waterville and Whitehouse, finding speakers and lining up the components of the program.

A member of Com-munity of Christ Lutheran Church, Wayne serves on the property committee and sings in the choir. He and his wife, Becky, take care of the food donations for the Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry and the food pantry at Zion United Methodist Church. 

“Once a month, I go to Salem Lutheran Church (in North Toledo) to help cook and feed 300 people,” he said. “Last year, we found hats and gloves on sale, and we bought $450 worth. We took them to Salem and in a few days, they were all gone. There is definitely a need.”

In the winter, Wayne clears the sidewalks for the Whitehouse Library. In the summer, he mows yards for shut-ins around town. Throughout the year, he is involved with the Whitehouse Historical Society, helping out in the log home or in different programs. Wayne also supports the Anthony FFA, purchasing the blue coats for incoming freshman and donating to scholarships.

While he’s active in the community, Wayne said his biggest joy is spending time with his four grandchildren.

Pam Lukachek

Pam Lukachek is the epitome of a perfect nurse, even outside of work. 

“She has a ready smile, a hug to offer and an abundance of compassion,” said Judy Miller. “She is active in Hope United Methodist Church as a liturgist and in the United Methodist Women’s Group.”

Pam worked as a registered nurse at Waterville Family Physicians for 23 years – a job she loved. She had a real knack for giving shots with little pain.

“I’m not sure if it was her skills or her calm, kind, caring way, but she put everyone at ease,” Judy said of her experience.

Now that she’s retired, Pam sends out hundreds of birthday, anniversary and special occasion cards to people from church and the community.

“I do like to send cards to people in our congregation,” Pam said. “It has become expensive, but I can’t put a price on happiness for the recipient and the giver!”

For the first several years after retirement, Pam babysat her twin grandchildren twice a week until they started first grade. 

“I still pick them up one day a week to spend time with them and fix dinner for them,” said Pam. “I also volunteer at their school for class parties.”

She and her husband, Rick, love bike riding and long car rides, and Pam walks 3 miles a day year-round. 

“I was born and raised in Whitehouse and still reside there. I love this town!”

Sheri Luedtke

Sheri Luedtke takes pride in the Anthony Wayne community, said Valerie Bradfield.

“Sheri is such a giving and compassionate person who wants to make the community welcoming,” Valerie said.

“When she lived in Waterville, she and her late husband Richard made the downtown beautiful, maintaining the flower gardens and sprucing up the town. She continued the same pride for Whitehouse when she moved there. Sheri has always been active both in Waterville and Whitehouse on the tree commissions along with grant searching to help with funding for more trees.”

As a member of the Whitehouse Tree Commission, Sheri has been involved in obtaining ongoing Tree City USA and Growth Awards, as well as assisting with educational efforts during community events. She is on the Whitehouse Library board of directors and organizes the summer Farmers Market in downtown Whitehouse.

As a longtime member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterville, she has spent time volunteering there as well, and she’s helped out with the Anthony Wayne Community Food Ministry.

“I do this because God has gotten me through many difficult times. It’s a way to pay it forward. I also enjoy the other volunteers,” Sheri said.

In addition to volunteering, Sheri enjoys tennis, pickleball, skiing and sailing. 

Read second part of this series

Check Also

A Family Affair: Maumee Native Libby Servais Brings Broadway To Area Stage Beside Husband

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee native Libby Servais and her husband Stephan Stubbins are …