Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
photo courtesy norco agency on agingJean Achey, Manuel Aguiar, Elaine Francis, Stephie Gerencser, Anna Stofko, William (Bill) Thawley, Jill Ward and Wayne Wood with other local senior volunteers honored April 26. photo courtesy norco agency on agingJean Achey, Manuel Aguiar, Elaine Francis, Stephie Gerencser, Anna Stofko, William (Bill) Thawley, Jill Ward and Wayne Wood with other local senior volunteers honored April 26.

Local seniors lauded for volunteerism

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by The Press in Local News

The Advisory Council of the Northampton County Area Agency on Aging recognized 12 individual older adults at the 2018 Outstanding Senior Awards. These awards were presented April 26 at Wesley United Methodist Church. Many public officials honored the award recipients along with us, via the issuance of citations. Half of them are from the Bethlehem area:

Jean Achey of Bethlehem Township has devoted her time and talents to many Lehigh Valley organizations. She has volunteered for the Miller-Keystone Blood Center for over 30 years; during that time she has volunteered once a week as a Canteen Aide and on many mobile blood drives. Through February 2018, she has dedicated 19,400 hours of service to the blood bank’s mission of saving lives in the Lehigh Valley. At age 90 years young, she volunteers at Musikfest, Celtic Fest and Christkindlmarkt (for 30 years), at Miller Symphony Hall for the past 16 years and for Zoellner Center for 15 years. Achey has volunteered for the ArtsQuest events and with the State Theater in Easton. She is a great example of true community service and what it really means to give back to the place where you live.

Manuel Aguiar of Hellertown volunteers at the Saucon Valley Community Center and at his church by driving people to the store or to places if they do not have rides. During holidays he brings food baskets to families in need. He spends most of his days during the week helping in the New Jerusalem Food Bank ( a group effort encompassing several different Hellertown area churches and community groups for over 700 clients in need); Aguiar helps to organize food items and distribute them to people in need as well as doing pick ups for the food bank. He is always thinking of others and is an important part of the Hellertown community.

Elaine Francis of Bethlehem is involved in the Senior Center on Old York Road and participates in the County Senior Games each year. She is a 92-year-young citizen who never stops learning. Despite a lifelong vision problem, she earned a degree from Montclair State College and continues to take classes at Northampton Community College where the other students admire her perseverance and affectionately call her “Grandma”. Despite some recent health issues she remains active in her church women’s group, an usher and Unitas Chorale. She supports causes on the island of St. Kitts, the birthplace of her parents and was active in the Central Moravian 275th anniversary.

Stephie Gerencser of Bethlehem Township volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Lions Club of Mountainville, St. Luke’s Hospital as well as working part-time catering two nights a week. She started driving for Meals on Wheels on one route a week and is now driving a second route each week, developing bonds with the clients and being concerned about their well-being. At St. Luke’s Hospital she helps in the gift shop, escorts patients for testing and most recently participates in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Cuddling Program, serving over 1,500 hours in the hospital. Gerencser stays busy and active, taking one day at a time.

Anna Stofko of Bethlehem served in many organizations in the Lehigh Valley. She has been a longtime volunteer at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem Garden Club, Musikfest (for 33 years), Zoellner Arts Center (for 20-plus years), Boutique at the Rink for 20-plus years (a fundraiser which benefits three organizations serving cancer patients in the Lehigh Valley), Bethlehem Recreation Commission (for 25 years), PA League of Women Voters for over 37 years and Bethlehem’s 275th anniversary Committee (for 16 years). She is a member and previously served as President of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Fellowship Committee. Stofko graduated from Northampton Community College with an Accounting Certificate and worked for the County for the next 25 years. During that time she served on NCC’s Alumni Board of Directors for 25 years serving on the fundraising committee and the government affairs committee, volunteering hundreds of hours for the college, becoming the longest serving member of the Alumni Association. She served as a mentor for the college and was on the NCC Council which pre-dated the Alumni Association.

William (Bill) Thawley of Bethlehem Township is involved in the American Red Cross of Lehigh Valley - Bucks in many different capacities: Blood Drive Donor Ambassador, Photographer/Visual Storyteller, Chapter Historian, Community Outreach Team and Volunteer Recruiter. When he noticed that the Red Cross had many boxes of memorabilia that had not been opened in years, he spent several months taking inventory and piecing together a history of the chapter that ultimately had him contacting the archivist at the National Red Cross in Washington, D.C. as well as retired staff and board members in the local area. As a result he has created a new library/research room where books, newsletters and other information are available for students and others to learn about the history of the Red Cross. He volunteers regularly in Community Outreach on behalf of the Red Cross reaching out to colleges in the Lehigh Valley area as well as the Philadelphia area. Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley, Thawley was a volunteer with the Cape May Rescue Squad and past President of the Cape May Chamber of Commerce.

Jill Ward of Hanover Township has volunteered for over 30 years in various organizations such as the Northampton County Special Olympics, in the kitchen for the homeless at Trinity Episcopal Church and at festivals such was Musikfest, Celtic Classic Highland Games and Christkindlmarkt. Most recently she is found one day a week at the St. Luke’s University Health Network delivering flowers, papers and medical charts. She has invested over 4,200 hours helping around the hospital first starting in 1991. She now lives in her apartment at Traditions of Hanover sharing her joy for life with the residents.

Wayne Wood of Hanover Township for the past five years, has been coming to the Lehigh Valley Children’s Center to read to the children every two weeks. The children love him and cannot wait until he comes in. He keeps them fully engaged, including the children with sensory issues, autism and ADHD. Wood is very kind and patient, taking time to listen and to answer all their questions. During the summer, he reads to the 6-11 year olds – they enjoy interacting with him and are very interested in his stories. He helps with the Kiwanis Easter egg hunt held at the center each year. The AAA Advisory Council is proud to recognize Wayne Wood with our 2018 Intergenerational Award.

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