NELSONVILLE- Five individuals dedicated to service in Appalachian Ohio recently accepted honors from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio’s Jenco Foundation Fund in a virtual online event.
The Jenco Awards recognize Appalachian Ohio’s unsung heroes who have devoted themselves to direct, caring action that contributes to the quality of life in the region. This year’s honorees are Bobbyjon Bauman of Jefferson County, Roxanne Groff of Athens County, Dr. Denise Lucas who works in Jefferson County, Megan Macke of Vinton County, and Patty Mitchell of Athens County.
The Jenco Foundation and its awards are named for Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, a Roman Catholic priest who committed his life to the service of others. Most notably, in the 1980s, Father Jenco served as the director of Catholic Relief Services in Lebanon, where he was kidnapped and spent 19 months in capacity.
Even in confinement, Father Jenco continued to serve, providing a listening ear for other detainees, including journalist Terry Anderson. Following Father Jenco’s death in 1996, Anderson wanted a way to honor Father Lenco’s legacy of compassion and giving, so he created the Jenco Foundation.
Since 2002, the Jenco Awards have recognized visionary leadership in the service of others throughout Appalachian Ohio. Nominated by fellow community members who witness their service and leadership in action, Jenco awardees are selected through a formal committee process. Awardees receive an individual cash award to use in the manner most appropriate to their leadership.
“Once again, our Appalachian Ohio communities offer an abundance of candidates who are making a difference in our region,” said Jack Wright, Jenco Foundation committee member. “The five individuals chosen to be 2021 Jenco Award recipients exemplify through their selfless dedication to service the qualities demonstrated by Father Jenco.”
Highlights of the 2021 Jenco honorees’ service are as follows:
Bobbyjon Bauman of Jefferson County serves youth and the community through volunteer work. Founder and President of the Ohio Valley Youth Network, an organization that provides dynamic after-school programming for more than 300 youth and children, he has created an environment where students cultivate their gifts and talents to set them on a positive path.
Roxanne Groff of Athens County has worked for decades to protect and preserve Appalachian Ohio’s natural wonders, including the Wayne National Forest. Organizing and educating to support community voice and representation in local and state affairs has been an important part of Groff’s efforts through a variety of activities and roles, including that with Athens County’s Future Action Network and as a founding member of Save our Rural Environment, groups dedicated to environmental protection.
Dr. Denise Lucas of West Virginia is a volunteer healthcare provider at Ohio Valley Health Center in Jefferson County, Ohio. She provides care to low-income, uninsured, and under-issued patients. A nurse for more than 35 years and a professor of nursing since 2003, Lucas was the first nurse practitioner to implement the Free to be Healthy Diabetic and Hypertension Program.
Megan Macke of Vinton County is an educator who works to meet community needs in Vinton through creative endeavors and encourages a culture of civic engagement and service learning. A 4-H advisor, Macke has led youth in community projects and she developed the Farm to Family program for families needing food.
Patty Mitchell of Athens County is the Founder and Executive Director of Passion Works, a nonprofit providing artistic opportunities for individuals with developmental differences. Mitchell advocates and empowers others through arts expression. She is co-creator of the Creative Abundance Model, the principal for Passion Works, and has traveled the country to share this concept with others.