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Nominated by Guyla Wehman
Length of Service:
40 hours per month for 23 years
February 10, 2014
Charlene Press has been volunteering with the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since 1991. She started volunteering after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system.
She began her volunteer efforts by serving on the Cleveland Program Committee and soon afterwards became the chair of the committee. As a person with MS, Charlene was able to look objectively at program planning and offer insight into efficient, effective program delivery. Her contributions on the committee have strengthened and improved the caliber of programming for people living with MS.
In 1995, she took the initiative and began a new self-help group for persons with MS who were newly diagnosed or minimally affected because she saw a need for this type of group. The group has been going strong ever since with an average attendance of 10 people attending the monthly meetings.
As the facilitator of the group, Charlene takes the extra time to send out reminders and bake goodies for everyone to enjoy. Plus, she is very caring and spends countless hours on the phone talking to newly diagnosed persons who have been referred by the program staff. Through her nurturing and knowing efforts, Charlene helps people to understand the disease and educates them about the Society's services so they can lead full, independent lives.
Since 1998, Charlene has taken on the role of volunteer librarian. She comes into the office weekly to fulfill requests for books, CDs and DVDs. In this capacity, she is able to help more than 20,000 Ohioans living with MS to have the resources they need to improve the quality of their life. She also promotes the library materials by writing book reviews and giving updates for the MS Connection newsletter.
For the past five years, Charlene has served on the Volunteer Engagement Committee. This group of volunteers is responsible for finding new volunteers and keeping them engaged. She added another responsibility when she agreed to a one-year commitment to be on a National task force to study volunteer recognition.
In addition, Charlene has been an active member of the Locavore Committee for the last seven years. She is instrumental in planning and executing Locavore, which is a tasting and pairing event that features local food and drinks. It is a fundraising event with the proceeds being used to provide for programs, services and MS research efforts to benefit people living with MS.
Charlene also takes the time every holiday season to deliver gift bags and visit people with MS who are homebound or living in long-term care facilities. These visits are so meaningful to the person with MS who may be isolated or have few outside contacts.
Charlene has been married to her husband, Andy, for more than 40 years and due to her MS diagnosis, Andy has also been a valuable volunteer for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Andy served as the treasurer for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter Board of Trustees for many years and is still an emeritus member of the Audit Committee, Donor Relations Committee and Finance Committee.
Together, they participate along with other family members, in the annual Walk MS event. They have a team called the "Press Route for MS" and they raise funds to support the Society's mission to create a world free of MS.
Charlene is such a strong supporter of the National MS Society and has volunteered in so many capacities and enlisted the help of her family to help others. Her son, Steve, has participated in the Bike MS Pedal to the Point Ride and daughter, Kim, has used her talents to paint the faces of children at the Society's social outing at the zoo.
Charlene's volunteer efforts are especially commendable since she lives with the daily effects of MS. She participates in the Society's aquatics program that helps people with MS to improve their balance, coordination and muscle strength. She goes beyond the call of duty by acting as an "aquatics ambassador," as she promotes the program and the advantages of water exercise in order to assist others with MS.
Charlene's focus has always been on providing the best possible programs, services and events to help people living with MS. She is a compassionate person with such a positive outlook that makes her an extraordinary volunteer. Her continuous support to the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society has helped staff, volunteers and people living with MS. It is with honor that we nominate Charlene for this distinguished award.
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