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B'ville: A better place to live

Laughs as well as tears were shared at the Baldwinsville Volunteer Center's 2006 Man of the Year Awards held Saturday at the Fireside Inn.

Two winners were chosen, a man and a woman, that have each shown exemplary participation in volunteering and adding a sense of humility and honor to the Baldwinsville community. This year, Jo Pelcher and Dick Baker were chosen among their friends and neighbors.

There was a feeling of familiarity and comfort among volunteers of Baldwinsville and their families. Mark Baker acted as emcee, punctuating humorous anecdotes with sincere gratitude. He asked the audience to think about the act of volunteering.

It means to come forward, to present or offer one's self, but also, to sacrifice, Baker said. Everyone has felt a little bit better because of your sacrifice.

2005 Man and Woman of the Year, Stan Dombrowski and Megan O'Donnell presented the awards to the unknowing recipients.

The winners don't know that they are receiving the award, so we hide their families in the back until their name is announced, said Trish Hipolita, secretary for the Volunteer Center. [When they realize it's them], it's usually good for a good cry.

As O'Donnell spoke of Pelcher, she included her contributions to the Christmas Bureau as well as being a Friend of the Baldwinsville Library.

This woman is a kind, unassuming, self-effaced woman. Someone who truly loves Baldwinsville, O'Donnell said.

As Pelcher's family gathered, waiting to congratulate her, O'Donnell finished with Baldwinsville is a better place to live in because of her smiling face and her volunteering for our community.

Keeping with the same warm atmosphere, Dombrowski asked Baker to come help him read from cards that held facts about the 2006 Man of the Year. As Baker read facts that included lived in Baldwinsville for over 60 years, worked for Meals on Wheels, Ambulance Corps and as a St. Mary's usher, he realized that he was describing himself.

Both Baker and Pelcher were awarded a plaque as well as the recognition for playing an important role in Baldwinsville volunteerism. A volunteer award goes each year as well to a graduating student, and it was announced that the award will now be called the Marilyn Sweet Memorial Scholarship, for Marilyn Sweet, who passed away in March.

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