Venango Chamber’s ‘heroes’ project moving forward

A local organization’s novel way to call attention to everyday heroes is cranking up as area residents offer their take on who should receive the accolade.

Earlier this month, the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce launched a new initiative designed to honor local residents and organizations that “make this a better place to live,” said chamber executive director Susan Williams.

Billed as Community Heroes of Venango County, the campaign is based on the belief that “the best approach to 2021 is one of gratitude and positive spirit,” noted the chamber..

“We want to lift up and recognize those who have served us well, making Venango County a better place to live, even in a pandemic,” she said. “It can be a neighbor, an employee, a business owner, a non-profit group. It’s everyday people doing the right thing because heroes come in all shapes and sizes. “

To date, the chamber has received several submissions for the heroes’ designation.

The first honorees are Lisa Winger, hospital liaison and community volunteer; Dan Flaherty, director of the county’s three public libraries; Laura Blake, president of Venango Region Catholic School; Rebekah Deal, a volunteer with the Oil City Rotary Club; social worker Jessica Babbitt; Bobbie Jones of Trailasana Yoga Studio; and Sister Tina Geiger and Sister Marian Wehler of Catholic Rural Ministry in Oil City.

“Take, for example, Sister Tina and Sister Marian,” said Williams. “They are asking people to make cookies and then they are out delivering them. It is all about kindness and that matters. It can change lives if only for a moment.”

The nomination process is simple. A short nomination form is posted online at Nominees must be located in Venango County and impacted the community within the last year in a positive way. Each nomination should be submitted with contact information and a photograph of the nominee.

“I know many people don’t wish to be publicly honored but I encourage people to accept the recognition,” said Williams. “I think it is important that when people or groups do things that matter to other people, they allow us to share that story.”

The results will be shared on the chamber’s website and other media sources. No winner will be chosen and there are no prizes in the promotion which will run through mid-April.

“We are really encouraging people to call attention to their heroes,” said Williams. “We think of heroes having capes and saving lives but the small acts of kindness can be life-saving, too, especially right now. Let’s tell those stories.”