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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

Winners' humility is common ground

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The 2006 Jefferson Award winners are, from left, Floella Wormely, Clara Shuer, and Robert Sterling. The 2006 Jefferson Award winners are, from left, Floella Wormely, Clara Shuer, and Robert Sterling.
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The common theme that resonated throughout last night s Jefferson Award ceremony was humility.

"Volunteering is an honor, it s its own reward," said Andrew "Bud" Fisher, one of 13 community finalists recognized for outstanding public service.

The three people selected among the 13 to represent the region were:

• Clara Shuer, whose daughter was diagnosed with mental retardation in 1946, which inspired her to help found the Lucas County Association for Retarded Children and the Ohio Association for Retarded Children.

• Toledo Police Officer Floella Wormely, founder of a program called STRIVE Success Through Review, Incentive, Vision & Effort that helps at-risk youth pass the Ohio Proficiency Test.

• Robert Sterling, who is responsible for leading campaigns for the creation some 25 years ago of Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Of the three, one will be selected at a later date to represent the community at the American Institute for Public Service s annual dinner in Washington on June 10.

The local celebration, held at the Radisson Hotel, is part of an award program created by the institute. The event was sponsored locally by The Blade and toledoblade.com; WTVG-TV, Channel 13; and Buckeye CableSystem.

The finalists, in addition to Ms. Shuer, Mrs. Wormely, Mr. Sterling, and Mr. Fisher, were Betty Carstensen, Lawrence Conway, Phyllis Hyder, Dennis Johnson, Rita Mack, Herbert Metzger, Richard Paat, Andrew Schuman, and the late Mary Kay Sanford (1958-2006).

After receiving his award, Mr. Sterling said he was "stunned" by being named one of the top three award winners locally but was proud of his commitment to Hospice of Northwest Ohio. He said his wife has cancer and volunteers at the local hospice.

"She said she has no more fear because [hospice] gives people dignity and a chance to make amends," said Mr. Sterling, who has helped raise more than $20 million for Hospice and has served on the board of directors of Hospice of Northwest Ohio for 24 years.

Mrs. Wormely said she was "overwhelmed" to be named a finalist, then one of the top three winners.

"I don t do this to gain recognition. There s a need in our school system and if I can just save somebody I ve done what I ve set out to do," said Mrs. Wormely, who created the STRIVE program in the mid- 1990s originally to inspire and assist her now-adult children, Ericka and Derek Johnson and Alonzo Wormely, Jr.

Ms. Shuer summed up the spirit of all of the winners:

"I m speechless," she said surrounded by her family. "I couldn t believe it, I only did what came naturally."

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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