[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
The WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation has announced the 10 recipients of the 2012 WLKY Bell Awards and the 2 recipients of the 35th WLKY Bell Awards Youth Service Honor. The program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the true “spirit of Louisville” through selfless volunteer efforts and seeks to inspire all residents to engage in community service.
Two members of the Jewish community, Emily Goldstein and Tami Penner, are among this year’s honorees. Other award winners are Ed Armento, Bernie Block, Ruth French, Kate Holwerk, Dean McDonald Sr., Janet Miller, Barbara Trompeter and Polly Troxell. The youth winners are Shelby Catlett and Zach Dannelly.
In addition to the 12 WLKY Bell Award honorees, the Foundation and Mayor Greg Fisher will present the “Mayor’s Spirit of Louisville” award to the Kentucky Derby Festival and Metro United Way for their leadership in the Mayor’s Give a Day community service initiative.
The WLKY Bell Award recipients will be honored at a banquet at the Galt House Hotel on Thursday, October 11. Reservations to the dinner can be made by contacting WLKY, 893-3671, by October 1. A special one-hour telecast of The WLKY Bell Awards will air on WLKY Saturday, October 20, from 8-9 p.m.
Emily Goldstein, a Louisville native, began volunteering at the Louisville Zoo at age 13 and at age 21 is still going strong. She is passionate about animals and the environment. At age 16, she was chosen by the zoo to attend Polar Bears International Leadership Camp in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. “The purpose,” she said, “was to interact with teens from around the world to learn about climate change and how to teach about climate change.”
Why Churchill? “It’s the easiest place to see polar bears in the wild,” she explained. It is the first place that freezes each year, so it is the first place the bears come out to feed and play. She was so taken with the town, she said, that she has been back three more times since.
“Last year, I did an internship there,” she continued, “which was amazing. I learned how much I love helping animals in the wild, so that’s where I’ve decided to go with my career and my studies.”
Back in Louisville, Goldstein is an outspoken advocate for her cause. She has written more than 100 articles about recycling, energy efficiency and eco-friendly tips for newspapers, magazines and websites, including a monthly column to all local elementary schools. She’s also an accomplished public speaker, finding audiences among scouts and school groups and at zoo camps and state and local parks. She figures she has spoken to around 4,000 people.
She practices what she preaches, too, recycling aluminum cans and giving the money to the zoo for the Animal Enrichment Fund, which provides toys for the animals. To date, she’s donated about $2,000 through this project.
A junior at the University of Louisville, Goldstein is majoring in biology with an emphasis in ecology. She recently started working with the Urban Wildlife Research Lab on campus, doing population censuses on local mammals and entering data on their measurements into computers. When she completes her studies at U of L, she plans to go to graduate school and is looking at programs around the world to find the best one to study dolphins and whales.
She graduated from Atherton High School’s marine biology magnet program.
The daughter of Debbie and Alan Goldstein and sister of Rachel, she and her family are members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun.
“I volunteer because I love it,” Goldstein said. “It’s nice to know people think it’s a worthwhile thing. It is pretty surprising to receive a Bell Award. Most of the time it is given to older people.” She also said she feels honored to receive the recognition.
The Spirit of Louisville Foundation describes Tami Penner is a volunteer dynamo, regularly donating time for five different organizations.
She is an active volunteer at Jewish Family & Career Services food pantry and helps with the group’s annual fund-raiser. This year, it was Pizza for the Pantry; in the past it was the Flapjack Fundraiser. She’s also on hand to help wherever she’s needed at the annual Republic Bank Golf Challenge.
JFCS’s director of development and marketing said, “When we need volunteers at JFCS, she is the first one to call.”
At Temple Shalom, Penner chaired the Tikkun Olam Committee, organizing activities from blood drives to food drives and encouraging people to walk in fundraisers. She is also an active participant in the Women of Temple Shalom.
Rabbi Stanley Miles noted that she has the ability to attract people, inspire them to do good deeds and mobilizes them with a “follow me” attitude.
For Penner, doing things that ease the burdens others carry and enable her to show compassion resonate strongly. That’s why helping out at Gilda’s Club is an important part of her life. Every week, she finds time to work at the club’s front reception area, answering phones, taking messages for staff, managing the calendar and directing guests through the facility.
At Hosparus, Penner helps out in the office, doing administrative work and compiling materials for the intake of new patients. She has also represented Hosparus at health fairs.
Whe she was younger, she was very active with the Special Olympics. While she no longer volunteers there on a regular basis, she remains a loyal supporter, raising $1,000 every year by participating in the annual Polar Bear Plunge.
With all her volunteer activities, one would wonder when she has time for anything else, but Penner also works as an aide with first graders at Goldsmith Elementary, assisting children who need a little extra help and with students from other countries.
Penner has a degree in business from Indiana University and worked as a paralegal for six years. She also spent a year working as an athlete recruiter for Special Olympics before moving on to the Jefferson County Public Schools. Early in her career with the school district, she worked with special needs students, particularly with sign language and the deaf.
At that time, she also did recording for the blind, worked with the Center for Accessible Living, Visually Impaired Preschool Services and other programs for people with disabilities.
She and her husband, Dan, have two children, Gareth and Naomi. They are members of Temple Shalom. She is also a member of National Council of Jewish Women and Hadassah.
“I’m very surprised and honored” to receive a Bell Award, she said. “It made me feel good about what I do for the community and very humble about the whole thing.” While she doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlight, she said, “It feels good to be appreciated.”
“I’ll continue what I’m doing and helping out,” she added. “This is part of my life. I enjoy working and volunteering.”
After retiring from the FBI in 1998, Ed Armento returned to his military roots by volunteering with the Louisville Armed Forces Committee, Patriots Peace Memorial Committee and the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky. His efforts have helped raise more than $275,000 of financial support for college bound students, families of wounded Marines, and active duty and veteran Marines with serious tragedy-induced needs. Armento is a founding member of the Patriots Peace Memorial Committee and served as security coordinator for the 2011 Congressional Medal of Honor Society National Convention held in Louisville.
Bernie Block is a mental health advocate who has volunteered tirelessly on behalf of mental wellness. He is a member of the Ky. Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has served as Chair of the Seven Counties Services Board of Directors and is an active volunteer at Wellspring. He successfully lobbied lawmakers to provide $500,000 a year to fund the David J. Block Crisis Stabilization Center, an emergency mental health residence that was opened in memory of his late son, who suffered from mental illness. Block is an active Rotarian and has served on numerous civic boards over the past 40+ years.
Ruth French appreciates the beauty and rich history of her Shawnee neighborhood and devotes her efforts to better it. She donated a vacant lot to create a neighborhood garden and invited association members to partake in the work and reward. A retired nurse, French spearheaded the opening of the Shawnee Christian Community Health Clinic, donating the space, securing the funding and interviewing medical professionals to serve in the facility. She is active with the Neighborhood Block Watch Committee, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and is a Eucharistic Minister for the sick and shut-ins.
Kate Holwerk inspires the kids at The Cabbage Patch Settlement House to reach their full potential. She tutors algebra one-on-one and works in their Recreation/Youth Development Program, averaging 10-20 hours per week to as much as 120 hours per week when participating in overnight camps. In 2011, Holwerk helped design, launch and direct programs in conjunction with Bike Louisville for teaching bike safety to students. She is an active member of the Younger Woman’s Club of Louisville and has given time to Gilda’s Club of Louisville and the Daughters of the American Revolution Piankeshaw Chapter.
Dean McDonald, Sr.
Dean McDonald has dedicated his life to help fulfill the dreams of terminally ill children through The Dream Factory. Over the course of 35 years, he has served in several capacities, including president, vice president, chair of program services, and fundraising. His passion for children has also led him to be a volunteer at Shelter House for the last 25 years, where he transports youth from situations of urgent distress to a safe harbor. McDonald has coached softball, football, and bowling with Special Olympics for 17 years, and was active with the Binet School for 10 years.
Janet Miller devotes her time to help Karen and Karenni refugees build new lives in the U.S. She serves as an advocate and friend for these ethnic groups with Burmese roots, and helps them with school enrollment, opening bank accounts and accompanies them to medical appointments. She works closely with the staff at Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Resurrection Episcopal Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to ensure the refugees feel welcome in their new home. Despite her own personal battle with losing her eyesight, Ms. Miller refuses to let it stop her efforts on behalf of others.
Barbara Trompeter volunteers 15-30 hours a week, visiting residents at Sacred Heart Village to administer communion and assist with their worship services. She also provides the same comfort and care to the residents at Mt. Holly Nursing Home. Trompeter is an active member at St. Leonard’s Church and takes great care to handle the set-up of flowers, candles and other necessary elements each week. In 1974, she befriended a blind young lady and became her foster mother, encouraging and supporting her throughout the years. In addition, Trompeter is a member of the Bellarmine Women’s Council.
Polly Troxell helps senior residents in Henry County by assisting with Medicare and Medicaid applications through the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), volunteers for Tri County, and runs the county’s Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA). She is seeking her third term on the City Council and serves on the Chamber of Commerce board. When the county built a Recreational and Services Park, Troxell helped raise the funds to build a Senior Center and playground. In addition, she organizes an annual Derby Eve breakfast with the proceeds going to support senior activities throughout the year.
A senior at Mercy Academy, Shelby Catlett purchases food weekly for Dare to Care, and has volunteered for the Salvation Army and the Kentucky Derby Festival Chow Wagon. In elementary school, she befriended a fellow student who has Prader Willi Sydrome. Since that time, she has educated herself about this condition, and focused efforts to raise money for research by collecting used electronics and organizing a free dress day at school. A Governor’s Scholar, Catlett plans to continue her pursuit of medical research after she graduates and hopes to one day find a cure for Prader Willi Syndrome.
A graduate of Christian Academy of Louisville, Zach Dannelly led the entire school to raise $40,000 to build an orphanage in India, an accomplishment achieved in only three months. Elected as class president every year in high school, he coordinated many community service projects such as an annual coat drive, resulting in 3,000 donated coats for Wayside Christian Mission. He helped construct homes in Mexico, assisted with the clean-up efforts following the Henryville tornado, and was volunteer coordinator at Fern Creek Christian Church. Dannelly was accepted and entered into the U.S. Naval Academy this past June.
The 2012 chairperson of the Spirit of Louisville Foundation is Karen Sherman with KFC Corp. Carolle Jones Clay with Republic Bank and Judy Bidwell with General Electric are serving as co-chairpersons. Glenn Haygood, President & GM of WLKY-TV serves as the foundation’s president.
Editor’s note: Part of this article came from the WLKY Bell Awards press release.