Benedum Fellows & First Benedum Fest Youth Service Award Winners Announced
By Julie Perine on July 07, 2012
The four individuals have been named honorees of the 2012 Benedum Festival, joining a long list of honorees chosen for their exemplary character and service to the Bridgeport community. Honorees are chosen annually, paying tribute to the festival’s namesake, Michael Late Benedum, whose spirit of philanthropy was instrumental in Bridgeport’s foundation.
“We look for people who go the extra mile to serve the community and others,” said Bob Allen, chair of the Benedum Fellows committee.
A different group of individuals make up the committee each year, selecting from nominations a handful of standouts.
And with nominations outnumbering those in recent past years, there were lots to choose from this year, Allen said.
A Vietnam Wartime navigator with Operation Ranch Hand, Capt. Harry Nehrig has a presence in the U.S. Air Force Museum. He’s also now an official Benedum Fellow.
His community endeavors include longtime service with the Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department, Emergency Services Council and Volunteers in Policing. He has also volunteered with the emergency department at United Hospital Center, Harrison County CASA, Harrison County Parent Volunteers and Aviation Career Counseling, among other organizations.
Nehrig has been on board with the betterment of Bridgeport since 1974, when he and his family (late-wife Phyllis and daughter Wendy) were relocating to the area from Pittsburgh and walked into the doors of City Hall for some direction.
Nehrig gladly accepts the honor, but said he does nothing more for the community than countless others. Helping one another is just the Bridgeport way, he said.
“The town is growing, but still small enough that people are friendly and helpful,” he said. “There have been so many instances – including the artificial turf at the (Wayne Jamison) field and much of the behind-the-scenes work in establishing Bridgeport City Park – where volunteers have stepped up. It’s just the way of life here.”
Depue and Isabella were selected, among other reasons, for their longtime commitment to Shepherd’s Corner, a community hub for providing clothing, meals and household goods to those in need.
Depue serves as president and is active in the facility’s day-to-day operations. She was instrumental in its most recent move to Pennsylvania Ave. and advocates for the cause through personal appearances at the meetings of various clubs and organizations. She is also a member and past treasurer of the Maple Lake Woman’s Club, Rotary Health Screening volunteer and active member of All Saints Catholic Church. Her volunteer work has also been seen on the BHS stage. She’s a longtime costumer for various school productions.
Isabella is also a Shepherd’s Corner board member, advocate and volunteer coordinator. She was also active in the facility’s relocation. She is further involved with the community through the Bridgeport Senior Citizens and All Saints Catholic Church.
Joining Nehrig, Depue and Isabella as “Benedum Fellows” is 14-year-old Savannah Blythe, the very first recipient of the Benedum Youth Service Award.
“She’s an outstanding young lady, who is putting forth a lot of effort for her community,” Allen said. “That’s just what we were looking for.”
Recently, Blythe’s name has been announced as co-winner of the 2012 “BMS Idol” competition and for holding the best time for her gender and age division in Saturday’s Derek Hotsinpiller’s Fallen Star Memorial 5K. Her well-rounded involvement also includes reorganizing and heading up the GFWC Bridgeport Juniorettes and serving as both a Challenger League “baseball buddy” and Relay for Life volunteer.
The list goes on. She can also be found visiting residents at Meadowview Manor, weeding and planting flowers at Bridgeport United Methodist Church, bathing dogs at the Harrison County Humane Society and serving meals at the Clarksburg Mission.