Page 22



Good Neighbors

DECEMBER 24, 2010

of Centre County

We’re proud and honored to feature these good neighbors – men and women who give of themselves to help others in time of need. They work through churches, service clubs, hospitals, and charities. They are kind, generous, involved, and dedicated to helping their neighbors. Their season of giving lasts all year long – quietly, humbly going about the business of filling needs and brightening spirits, one person at a time. Their rewards are simple – the smiles and thank-yous of those they help, teach, and inspire. Thank you for being good neighbors. You are an inspiration to us all. ~Sandie Biddle

Curt & Louise Knepper: Always Teaching, Sharing

Curt and Louise Knepper moved to Bellefonte from Washington, D.C. in 1978. An electrical engineer, Curt studied at the King Arthur Baking School, Norwich, Vt. Curt teaches swimming classes at the State College YMCA, and shares his love of dough and the science of baking with others – currently working with Christmas sweet-dough. Curt also works as a teacher’s aid at Pleasant Gap Elementary School. He provides emotional and physical support to help a child through the day. He ensures personal comfort by elevating children’s and teachers’ morale. (How can anyone feel bad while gazing upon pans of special, flaky sticky buns made with European butter?) Louise, a retired reading specialist, does substitute teaching and volunteering in the Bellefonte school system. She has unlimited patience with children in their reading; and strongly encourages parents to find time, every day, to read with their children. She assists Curt with his bread-baking courses, “spreads the word,” and delivers his delicious bread. Curt and Louise consider their greatest reward to be the number of friends they have made through helping others to experience what they know and love. Future plans include building a small kitchen in their basement. By Brian E. Bassett

Gene Weller: Tough Guy with Heart

Gene Weller, USMCR Retired, has lived in State College for 28 years. Weller leads the annual Toys for Tots drive – a communityoutreach program coordinated by the local Marine Corps League’s Nittany Leathernecks – ensuring that children will have toys for Christmas. The USMC was once in real danger of being merged with other services in the middle 1940s. USMC reserves in Los Angeles collected 5,000 toys for children in 1947. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, knowing how important a toy was for a child to enjoy at Christmas-time, subsequently required all reserve units to conduct an annual Toys-for-Tots campaign. Toys for Tots’ President said, “Toys for Tots has helped to save the Marine Corps.” Penn State University has donated seven or eight rooms – approximately 13,500 square feet – to the Leathernecks in recent years. Weller said, “We have never wanted for volunteers. Like Field of Dreams: ‘Build it and they will come.’ We’re also one of the few campaigns that supply all materials; and actually wrap 12,000 items over a four-day period. Weller was acknowledged by the Toys for Tots foundation for conducting the Region One 2005 Campaign of the Year (out of approx 500 campaigns – there are now 710). By Brian E. Bassett

David Dimmick: Keeping the Faith

In October 2002, Doyle Klinger, Jr., Pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, and David Dimmick, the church’s director of Community Relations, sat in a local restaurant considering the plight of local homeless, poor, and addicts. FaithCentre, a faith-based community outreach center for the Bellefonte area, was born! According to Vicki Gillette, a long-time resident, “Dave knew there was a need for a place in Bellefonte for people to get help with clothes, toys, household goods, food, etc. He and his church decided to take on the endeavor and founded the FaithCentre! They started out in a very small space on the corner of W. Bishop and S. Allegheny Streets in Bellefonte. “Having outgrown their space very quickly, they moved into what was once part of the G.C. Murphy Five & Ten. They have helped thousands of people over the years and taken on the huge task of managing donated items for fire victims. Dave never tires of helping and is always ready to jump in when no one else is available, no matter what the cause!” Mr. Dimmick is a retired Pennsylvania Air National Guard lieutenant and President Emeritus of FaithCentre’s board of directors. By Sandie Biddle

Shirley Brungart: Simple Acts, Big Blessings

Shirley Brungart has lived in the Nittany Valley all her life – the last 43 years in Zion, during which she served 25 years as church secretary/treasurer for Trinity UCC, Hublersburg. Brungart regularly visits the sick and the shut-ins in per-

sonal care facilities and private homes – taking homemade soups or desserts with her when she stops to visit. Other year-’round services include providing rides to medical appointments, opening her home for Bible-study groups, helping out at church sales, making fruitcakes, sending cards, and preparing gift boxes with enough food for entire dinners during Christmastime. “I am blessed even more than I share with others,” Brungart stated. She believes that what others may see as extraordinary acts of kindness is really nothing more than sincerely caring about her friends and neighbors. Her friend, Georgia Homan, said, “Shirley has a big, generous heart, tries to live a righteous life, and helps others every day. She never brags or boasts; just works ‘behind the scenes’ to help others in need.” Brungart said, “I’m happy to do what I can for others. I am grateful that the people at church have been gracious in expressing their appreciation for what I do.” By Brian E. Bassett

Helen Viehdorfer: Fondly Remembered, Sorely Missed

Helen E. Viehdorfer was born at home in Snow Shoe, October 26, 1930, graduated from Snow Shoe High School in 1948, and retired in1993. For the past several years, she was very active in her community until succumbing to cancer, October 3, 2010. Viehdorfer served as secretary and treasurer of the Snow Shoe United Methodist Church. She helped organize and served many dinners for the church and for area residents’ funerals. Other community involvement and volunteer work included working as a caregiver for the Comfort Keepers, at the Centre Crest Nursing Home salon; and chairing the Mountaintop Food Bank. Helen often made a special effort to wait at the mall for people to arrive in the Centre Crest van so she could push them around in their wheelchairs. Mt. Nittany Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, and the Snow Shoe PTA were recipients of her boundless energy and enthusiasm. She even helped small businesses with their quarterly returns, and assisted with the issuing of doe licenses at the Centre County Court House. “She always gave one-hundred percent to anything she did and was always willing to help anyone,” said her good friend, Sandy Reiter. By Brian E. Bassett

Truman and Diana Hershberger: Helping Patients Smile

Truman and Diana Hershberger, residents of State College, have been volunteers at Mount Nittany Medical Center for the last year, devoting more than 500 hours of service each. They help in a number of areas including transporting patients and volunteering in the snack bar, physical therapy department, gift shop and imaging center. Truman, a retired agricultural professor from Penn State, married Alice on Valentine’s Day, 2008. Alice Clark, coordinator of volunteer services comments, “ The Hershbergers are especially good at making people feel comfortable and relaxed, even during a trying time. Everyone enjoys interacting with Diana and Truman. They just make you smile. Their positive attitudes radiate warmth and kind-heartedness. In addition, the Hershbergers will often fill in on short notice and help where ever we need them. We are so thankful to have them as volunteers.” In their “spare” time, the Hershberger’s help socialize future seeing-eye dogs by teaching puppies good manners, how to stay calm and how to obey the trainer. They also volunteer for AARP by teaching driver safety classes and they enjoy square dancing.

Ryan Grabill: Preparing for Distaster

Ryan Grabill lived in State College from 1991 to September, 2010, when he relocated to Springfield, Mo. Grabill works in disaster relief for Convoy of Hope – as disaster services coordinator, field services team – and can be called upon to respond immediately, anywhere in the world, when disaster strikes. Convoy of Hope’s mission statement defines it as a, “faithbased organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response, and partner resourcing.” During non-disaster time Grabill ensures technical support, including warehouse and product preparation and maintenance that will enable his team to be on sight anywhere

with the equipment needed to communicate with the outside world; and product to provide necessities to citizens in need. During a disaster, Grabill said, “It’s all about empowering the local church to take over when we leave. It will serve as the point of distribution, with local townspeople helping to distribute products like food, ice, and water to those in need – enabling them to be a blessing to their own community.” By Brian E. Bassett

Carl E. Hill: Ministering & Mentoring

Carl E. Hill is a retired United Methodist Pastor who has resided in Pleasant Gap for the past seven years. Previously, he lived in State College for nine years; and made Pleasant Gap his home from 1967 to 1972. Serving as district coordinator of the world-wide Rotary Youth Exchange Program, Hill was responsible for receiving and placing high school students from all over the world and throughout the Eastern United States. Friends are repeatedly and pleasantly amazed at how attached the exchange students and Carl become to one another. Hill was his Rotary district’s legislation-body delegate to the last Rotary International Council, in Chicago. He attends Rotary International Conferences around the world. Serving the community professionally and privately has always been a main objective; and working with volunteers occupies a major part of Hill’s life. Hill said that all he needs as a reward for his efforts comes when an eclectic group of volunteers work together – tackling and achieving new, common goals that are well outside the scope of their regular activities at work and/or with family – for the good of the community, subsequently making it a better place to live, work and worship. By Brian E. Bassett

Jack & Audrey Oakes: Helping Hands & Healing Laughter

Jack and Audrey Oakes met while attending Bald Eagle Nittany High School in Clinton County. They married the next year. In 1986 they both went to work at a VA hospital in Nashville, where they began to do volunteer work. When the VA’s Hospitality House was full, the Oakes’ brought some of the transplant patients’ families into their home while waiting for donor organs. Audrey accumulated more than 2,000 volunteer hours when she and Jack retired in 2001 and moved to Centre Hall. Audrey began volunteering at the Wynwood House Assisted Living Facility. Besides helping residents with the daily tasks, Audrey and Jack ventured into the world of entertainment. They worked up a comedy act imitating Minnie Pearl and her comedy partner Rodney Brassfield. She even wears the trademark hat with the price tag on it! Audrey also performs an act with a furry puppet named Oscar. Audrey is the Volunteer Coordinator and Entertainment Director at Wynwood House. Jack volunteers there and is a member of the Nittany Leathernecks, an organization of former Marines, which raises money for scholarships for children of wounded veterans and other charitable causes.

John Scipione: Quietly Helping His Neighbors

Dr. John Scipione, Jr., of Patton Township, is a practicing chiropractor. He grew up in Winchester, Virginia and moved to State College upon finishing chiropractic school more than 12 years ago.   As, a three-year board member  for  The Second  Mile, Scipione devotes time to planning logistics for community picnics. During summer Sundays he lends a hand with food preparation and outdoor barbeques; involved in the mentoring program for students from elementary to college-age. The Second Mile plans, organizes, and offers activities to promote self-confidence and success.  Scipione has been a member of the State College Area Jaycees for more than 10 years.  When the local chapter experienced extreme financial difficulty in 2009, Scipione fully supported chapter events until funds became available. Recognizing the basic and immediate needs of local families for food, he has taken consistent measures to ensure they get the food they need, through direct donations,  and inkind.  In addition, in a spirit of giving and faithfulness, Scipione unselfishly serves his neighbors by helping them with both yard work and snow blowing. He is appreciated for his humility, as an individual least likely to want recognition. By Portia Webb

12-24-10 Centre County Gazette  

Special 2-week Holiday issue

12-24-10 Centre County Gazette  

Special 2-week Holiday issue