Stars shining in Warren

WARREN – For the past 12 years, residents of Trumbull County have taken time out of their busy schedules to honor those who go above and beyond in serving the community.

A large crowd turned out on Tuesday night at Packard Music Hall to once again pay tribute to those in the area who devote their lives to making the world a better place as the 2013 Community Stars banquet recognized nine Trumbull County residents.

The celebration is hosted by the Tribune Chronicle and Trumbull 100.

“The city has endured so much tragedy recently, this gives us a chance to take time out and realize that there are a lot of wonderful people in Trumbull County,” Tribune Chronicle community events coordinator Sue Shafer said. “They do so many good acts to make our community a better place.”

The group of nine recipients was selected from about 60 nominations sent in by Tribune Chronicle readers, according to publisher Charles Jarvis. The new class of stars joins more than 120 people singled out for awards over the years.

“These are people who were nominated for doing something for the community that they’re not compensated for,” Jarvis said. “They do it out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Among those receiving Community Stars awards this year were Carolyn Andrews of Warren; Rhonda Bennett of Warren; Cathy Carney of Niles; Caryn Covelli of Warren; Roberta Cykon of Fowler; Doug Herlinger of Newton Falls; Florence Hutton of Cortland; Robert Sauer of Warren; and Steve Zerefos of Warren.

In addition to the Community Stars plaque presented by Tribune Chronicle General Manager F. Len Blose, each recipient received a commendation from the Trumbull County commissioners, a certificate of recognition from Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, and a writ of commendation from 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Diane Grendell.

Michael Keriotis, vice president of Trumbull 100, said the organization is honored to be involved in the event.

“Service is tough,” Keriotis said. “It is something you have to take time away from yourself and your family to do.”

Here’s a closer look at the 2013 Community Stars class:

  • Carolyn Andrews launched the GED program at the Warren Family Mission a year ago and has been teaching classes there ever since. She said her proudest moment was seeing her first two students graduate and receive their GEDs.
  • Rhonda Bennett served as president of the Southwest Neighborhood Association for three years and worked to reopen Southwest Park. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of the community, but it is great that the kids now have somewhere to go,” Bennett said upon receiving her award.
  • Cathy Carney has been an organizing member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary Chapter in Warren for 26 years. She said that while she appreciates the honor, the real heroes are the veterans who allow the rest of the country to celebrate freely by protecting the nation’s borders.
  • Caryn Covelli volunteers at the Trumbull County Animal Welfare League shelter. She said her passion has always been in taking care of animals, and she finds that community service work “incredibly rewarding.”
  • Roberta Cykon is a certified grief counselor and life coach, along with founding Motivation For You LLC. “This is a very special moment,” Cykon said. “In the past eight years, I’ve been on a painful journey of reinventing my life.”
  • Doug Herlinger is executive director of the Church Mouse in Newton Falls, an operation that has expanded greatly during his leadership. Herlinger was not able to attend the Community Star banquet. His nominator, Debbie Nolfi, accepted the award on his behalf.
  • Florence Hutton has been involved in the beatification of Cortland for the past 27 years, serving on the Snowflake Committee and the Cortland Beatification Association. “This has been a very humbling and rewarding experience,” Hutton said.
  • Robert Sauer at 91 years old devotes his time to serving the needy by volunteering with the Meals on Wheels program and helping the tenants of an apartment building he owns. “I’m very thankful for this and there have been many people who have done more than I have, and it is important we nominate them,” Sauer said.
  • Steve Zerefos was a pivotal force in creating and improving local mountain bike trails, including the creation of North Road Nature Preserve Howland Trail. He commended the Trumbull County MetroParks for helping him in his work for the community.

Guy Vogrin, copy editor for the Tribune Chronicle, served as master of ceremonies for the event for the 10th consecutive year.