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Published: Wednesday, 10/18/2006

Maumee volunteer gets things done

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Forest Kosch shows some of the donated items that he has stored in his Maumee garage for distribution to the needy. Forest Kosch shows some of the donated items that he has stored in his Maumee garage for distribution to the needy.
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Behind door No. 1 there are a few beds, toddler highchairs, and bags of clothes.

Behind door No. 2? Well, Forest Kosch's one-car garage doesn't have a door No. 2, but there's enough behind door No. 1 to make a difference in people's lives.

Mr. Kosch, 78, of Maumee collects used items from anyone and everyone, then distributes them to people in need.

Often, recipients of Mr. Kosch's kindness contacted him personally and told him what they needed. Other times, representatives from area churches swung by to collect the items and distributed them to the less fortunate in their communities.

Mr. Kosch has kept his garage door open for the last 17 years. He's volunteered at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Maumee, St. Luke's Hospital, and the Maumee Senior Center for much longer.

Because of all of his selfless acts, Mr. Kosch was named the 2006 Bronze Award winner in the Ohio Senior Volunteers Competition, sponsored by Medical Mutual of Ohio.

He was among 37 finalists from throughout the state. Platinum, gold, and silver awards were also given out to volunteers from the pool of finalists.

Mr. Kosch qualified for the state competition by winning the 2006 J.R. Rollen Award, given to an outstanding senior volunteer in Northwest Ohio by Medical Mutual. He was nominated for that award by a fellow volunteer at the senior center.

"It's almost embarrassing," Mr. Kosch said of the awards. "It's been a very humbling experience. I almost wish it wouldn't have happened."

Mr. Kosch has been honored before as a volunteer.

He received the Outstanding Citizen Award in 2000 from the Maumee Chamber of Commerce.

Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener declared Jan. 17, 2001, as Forest Kosch Day, in honor of the man's service to the community.

Mr. Kosch has been a volunteer at St. Paul's longer than he can remember, but he became serious about helping others after retiring from the Libbey-Owens-Ford plant in Rossford in

October of 1978.

His wife, Glenna, was a volunteer at St. Luke's at the time, and he thought he might like to join her.

"I went over there the next week and signed up," he said. "I'm still there and I love it."

Mr. Kosch said he works out of the chaplain's office at St. Luke's, walking from room to room and asking patients how he can help.

Mr. and Mrs. Kosch coordinate a Sunday church service for the mentally and physically disabled at the Northwest Ohio Development Center, as well as a service at the Whitehouse Country Manor nursing home.

"I'm kind of like his backup, his encourager," Mrs. Kosch said.

Known as the "Soup Man" at the senior center, Mr. Kosch makes and serves soup and bread there once a month for six months of the year.

Mr. and Mrs. Kosch also instituted the Happy Hearts program at St. Paul's, in which they prepare meals for the needy from all faiths, not just the Lutheran church.

A devout Christian, Mr. Kosch said he's not doing these good deeds to earn brownie points.

"God gave certain people gifts," Mr. Kosch said. "Mine is to help people. I'm a guy who can get things done."

Elsie Calamese of Sandusky won the Gold Award in Medical Mutual's state competition last year.

She had been with the Firelands branch of the American Red Cross more than 20 years.



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