Volunteers giving of themselves

Last week (April 21-27) was National Volunteer Week.

Local hospitals, in particular, rely heavily on volunteers.

Altoona Regional Health System reported that 650 people provided more than 80,000 hours by volunteering in various capacities during 2012.

Two – Maggie Klesius and Virginia Socey – have contributed more than 20,000 hours each over the years, with Klesius’ 24,000 topping all of the volunteers.

The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center also recognized its volunteers – topped by Samuel Quay’s 8,750 hours.

These people are truly unsung heroes, and it’s nice to see them recognized with all who share their time to make hospital visits more comfortable.

Volunteerism, though, isn’t limited to hospitals as many of us contribute time and money to numerous nonprofit organizations.

We and the community are better for it.

Thumbs-up to all who are committed to volunteerism and especially those who have spent their lives embracing it.

Others worthy of thumbs-up, thumbs-down mention:

Thumbs-up to Mary Burgoon, Sue Whiteford Johnson, Vi Whiting, Christine A. Lysinger, Patricia A. Labriola, Jackie Clouser and Arianna De Reus were honored at the 2013 WISE Women of Blair County Tribute Honoree dinner.

Young and, well, not so young, all have made their mark on the community and deserve congratulations.

Awards were given to Burgoon, 88, Hollidaysburg, for Lifetime Achievement; Johnson, 54, Bellwood, for Community Service Volunteer; Whiting, 70, Hollidaysburg, for Arts & Letters; Lysinger, 59, Altoona, for Nonprofit/Government; Labriola, 60, of Altoona, for Education; Clouser, 41, Hollidaysburg, for Business & Professional and De Reus, 20, Hollidaysburg, for Rising Star.

In the last five years, WISE Women has given more than $90,000 in grants and scholarships.

Thumbs-down to the Carnegie Mellon University student who mocked the pope during a recent school-sponsored parade. The female student dressed in half of what appeared to be a garment resembling one worn by the pope and a large pointed hat with a cross on the front. The lower part of her body was naked. She had a cross shaved into her pubic area, and she threw condoms to onlookers.

The parade took place April 18 as part of CMU’s carnival and its participants were students from the university’s College of Fine Arts.

Members of Pittsburgh’s Catholic community were outraged, understandably, and demanded an investigation. CMU President Jared Cohon has apologized and called the behavior “highly offensive.”

Thumbs-up and good luck to former Altoona Area High School football player Neil Huynh, who signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. A defensive tackle, Huynh (pronounced Winn) played college football at Ohio University.

Thumbs-up to Mother Nature, who after a long winter finally appears to have delivered spring.