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Council to honor 18 for compassionate acts

compassion (n.) sorrow for the suffering or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help: deep sympathy. -- Webster's New World Dictionary

What the world needs now is a little more compassion -- and greater awareness of people and groups putting compassion into action, according to the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio. To that end, the nonprofit interfaith group is to honor 18 individuals and organizations at its 11th annual dinner Sunday at Lourdes University in Sylvania.

Judy-Lee-Trautman

Judy Lee Trautman.

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"Our concept from the get-go was not to single out one person but to shine a little bit of light on some heroes, some really unsung heroes, that are quietly doing marvelous work for our community," said Judy Lee Trautman, co-founder of the MultiFaith Council.

People and groups in the Toledo area are regularly and unselfishly serving others in ways that range from providing food and shelter to running medical clinics and collecting socks, she said. But they don't get the degree of publicity that a single negative magazine article can generate, such as a Forbes article last month that listed Toledo among America's "most miserable cities."

"This community has a lot of untold stories that are a counter to being selected as one of the eight-worst places to live, as Forbes magazine wants to say," Ms. Trautman said. "Those who actually live here know we have a lot of wonderful things. Certainly in the arts we're a first-rate city, but I think in the areas of compassion, too."

The MultiFaith Council solicited nominations online and chose 18 honorees for its inaugural "Heroes of Compassion" Award. The council plans to honor more people and groups in the future.

The awards are part of the MultiFaith Council's ongoing campaign to have Toledo officially designated a "Compassionate City," through a program established by Karen Armstrong, a British author and former nun who used her $100,000 TED Prize in 2008 to create a Charter for Compassion. Seattle was the first to be designated a Compassionate City, in April, 2010, followed by six others. Toledo is one of 75 cities and regions worldwide in the process of applying.

"There are a lot of designations that a city can have. You can be a 'Tree City,' for example," Ms. Trautman said. "But we think compassion is, in a nutshell, what makes this community a good one to live in."

And being designated a Compassionate City would not just be a feel-good moment, it could have a real economic impact, because businesses are drawn to "friendly, welcoming cities," Ms. Trautman said.

The MultiFaith Council's dinner, which is to start at 3:30 p.m. in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes, 6832 Convent Blvd., also is to feature an Erase the Hate Youth Diversity Festival, faith displays, dinner with table discussions facilitated by the Rev. Ed Heilman, and separate youth table discussions facilitated by Zachary Dehm.

Advance reservations are required for the dinner. Information: 419-475-6535 or multifaithcouncil.org.

Here are the 18 people and organizations to be inducted into the Heroes of Compassion Gallery, with brief descriptions of the work for which they were nominated:

Cherry Street Mission Ministries: Serving the homeless and poor in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan for more than 63 years.

Lawrence Conway, president of the Diller Foundation and founder of Medical Mission Hall of Fame: Sends medical equipment and supplies to medically indigent nations; recognizes medical personnel for their missions trips.

Judge Charles Doneghy: The first African-American elected Toledo Municipal Court judge. A member of the boards of directors of 20 community organizations.

The Rev. Martin Donnelly: Now retired, Father Donnelly sees his priesthood as a calling to be a "servant leader" and has been involved in numerous community programs and justice efforts.

Hannah's Socks: Founded in 2004 by then-4-year-old Hannah Turner, collected 205,000 pairs of socks for the homeless and poor in 2011.

Jewish Family Service Food Bank: Meeting basic needs of the Toledo community, with 331 adults and children benefiting from its programs last year.

Ken Leslie and Pat Lewandowski for 1Matters and Tent City: Working to change the perception of the homeless and poor, stressing that each individual is important.

Lifeline Toledo: Provides preventive health care, material goods, and spiritual care to the needy in inner-city Toledo.

Martha Pituch: Set up a medical clinic and provides nursing services to the homeless and poor at Cherry Street Mission.

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Provides a free "home away from home" for families of children who are receiving medical care.

Devorah (Friedrich) Shulamit: Founder of the Interfaith Blood Drive, now in its 25th year, which has collected thousands of units of blood, saving countless lives.

St. Paul's Community Center: Dedicated to serving the hungry, homeless, and indigent in the metro Toledo area by providing emergency shelter, daily hot meals, nursing care, and transitional services.

St. Vincent de Paul Conference: Providing assistance person-to-person to anyone who asks, without discrimination, through intervention, consultation, finances, or in-kind services.

Sister Grace Ellen Urban and Sister Jeremias Stinson: Sylvania Franciscan nuns have developed a four-season greenhouse to feed the hungry year-round.

Sister Mary Angelita Abair: An Ursuline nun, Sister Mary Angelita, 80, worked for decades in central Toledo teaching, counseling, and assisting the poor and marginalized.

Mike Szuberla, ToledoGROWS: Provides support to 150 community gardens and mentoring to children in the juvenile justice system.

Toledo Area Ministries' Feed Your Neighbor program: Operates 12 food pantries throughout the area, feeding 80,000 clients a year.

Toledo Mountain Mentors: Empowering at-risk teens through mentoring to improve family and peer relationships and outdoor skills.

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