April is National Volunteer Month. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski marked the occasion last Thursday evening with a ceremony in City Council Chambers to honor 12 persons with a Mayor’s Service Award. Each had been nominated for their volunteer efforts in faith based or community organizations.
Ariana Small, Buddy Fahr, Maurice Silvestris, Robert and Flor Velez, Pat Arnold and Ron Lehr were recognized for their volunteer work in a community organization. Jeremy Foder and Maria Isabel Acosta were recognized in the faith based category while Juan Jose Surinach, Laury Nieves and Paula Duch were honored in both the community and faith based categories.
Maura Benner was presented with the first Hero Up Award in memory of the late Zachi Telesha. The 12-year-old Allentown boy passed away in April 2013 after a more than five year battle with cancer. Young Zachi invented his own members of a crime-fighting team called Hero Inc. His 32-page comic book entitled “Hero Up” was published by Rodale Inc.
“Zachi believed that people of all ages are able to do a little something every day to make Allentown and the rest of the world a better place,” said Pawlowski. “I was privileged to know him and I am pleased to honor Maura with the first Hero Up Award.”
Benner is seeking to convert the closed parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at 179 Chew Street in Allentown into a Community Center. She started working on site in December of 2013 and has been gathering donations from various organizations and a monetary donation from United Way's TeenWorks. Benner is a student at Emmaus High School.