Volunteers who have made an impact this past year were honored April 6 at the 15th Annual Oberlin Heritage Center Community Awards.
The nonprofit center was created in 1903 when it was named the Oberlin Village Improvement Society. Its mission is community improvement and historical preservation.
Since their inception, the awards have honored 13 entities and 74 people.
Phyllis Yarber Hogan, founder and president of the Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group, won the Heritage Guardian Award, which honors individuals or groups dedicated to conservation and preservation.
She thanked Oberlin Public Library staff for hosting the group and group members for their dedication. “We are proud to be called guardians of our heritage,” she said.
Melissa Clifford and Eileen Telegdy won the Volunteers of the Year Award for digitizing the Oberlin Oral History Project’s cassette collection of interviews.
Center member Richard Baznik said it took hundreds of hours. “Melissa and Eileen were literally preserving the voices of the past,” he said.
Ken Stanley won the Community Teacher of the Year Award for founding and directing the DuBois Project, which makes learning math fun for students.
He was nominated by second-graders at Eastwood Elementary School where he started the Fraction Club. Stanley, board of education president, thanked volunteer coaches in the program for making it fun for students.
Prospect Elementary School third grade teachers Felicia Christian, Christine Hohman, and Brandi Hicks-Watson won the History Teachers of the Year Award for illuminating Oberlin history and inspiring students. They redesigned a six-week “Who We Are” unit of inquiry.
Barb Enos, the center’s board of trustees secretary, saluted the teachers for “bringing history to life” for students and connecting the past and present.
Leo Braido, owner of the Oberlin IGA, won the Business Leader of the Year Award for placing historical photos of Oberlin in his grocery store after taking over in 2014.
Braido promised to always run the store as if it were a guest of the community. He said he was attracted to Oberlin by its authenticity.
“We really are Oberlin proud,” he said of the store. “I really like it here.”
Julia Elrod, an Oberlin High School senior, won the Youth Community Service Award for her work as a dining services employee at Kendal of Oberlin and doing tours for the center.
She said being a tour guide helped her learn about Oberlin’s history and she enjoys working with the staff. “It’s been a great experience,” she said.
The event also included remarks from Liz Schultz, OHC executive director. She was promoted to executive director in August, succeeding Patricia Murphy, who retired.
Schultz praised Murphy and her co-workers and said she loves the variety of her new job. Work has included learning about budgets and utility lines as well as sorting through property deeds, researching historical articles and photos, and, in one case, removing a dead squirrel from a center property.
Schultz thanked members for interpreting and preserving the past to have “a meaningful impact” today. “I hope you’re as excited as I am to be part of this valuable work,” she said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Winners of the 15th annual Oberlin Heritage Center Community Awards were honored April 6 at The Oberlin Inn. Pictured are Prospect Elementary School History Teachers of the Year Christine Hohman, Brandi Hicks-Watson, and Felicia Christian; Oberlin Heritage Center Volunteers of the Year Melissa Clifford and Eileen Telegdy of the Oberlin Oral History Project; Community Teacher of the Year Ken Stanley; and Heritage Guardian Award winner Phyllis Yarber Hogan representing the Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group. Not pictured are Leo Braido, Business Leader Service Award winner, anad Julia Elrod, Youth Community Service Award winner.