"Ron and Nancy Malin are angels on earth with hearts of gold to lighten every burden," offered Phyllis Amoroso in her recent letter nominating the couple to receive recognition as The Times Leader's "Hey, that's my neighbor" spotlight for the month of September.
Amoroso's late husband was Ray Amoroso Sr., well known businessman and local politician.
His life was cut short as a result of an unexpected battle with colon cancer in 2006. His diagnosis was brutal, as it revealed his cancer was at an advanced stage when first detected. Neither time nor modern medicine would be able to reverse the process already in motion within in him.
Ron & Nancy Malin
The cancer was destined to determine the final path he would walk, but his family and friends refused to have him sit idly by waiting for the inevitable.
Leading the grassroots movement focused on sharing the remaining time Amoroso would be able to continue in relatively good health, and by finding ways to truly enjoy it-to enrich those precious months and days-were Ron and Nancy Malin.
Phyllis looks back on those times now, doubly thankful for the many friends and supporters who took it on themselves to do countless acts of kindness, some large some small, all taken on in the hope of making a positive difference in the outcome of Ray's illness.
"Dedication is definitely a part of their vocabulary while inconvenience is never. No matter what they do, their kindness and unselfish ways are superlative.
"Our relationship began when my late husband, Ray, served as a Smithfield Township Trustee with Ron in 1985," shared Phyllis, wanting to find a way to share a public voice of appreciation to all who had helped her family get through the days of Ray's illness, and those since his death.
Their friendship never faltered.
Their focus on the positive and uplifting aspects of each available moment never weakened, but in fact, seemed only to grow stronger. As Ray's health began to fail for the last time, a trip to be enjoyed by a small group of friends was planned with the Malins leading the charge. The destination was the beauty packed region housing the Cass Railroad, Black Water Falls and Seneca Rocks.
It proved to be an opportunity to make memories to last a lifetime.
The joy the experience provided each participant was truly the stuff dreams are made up of, and Ray's personal enjoyment of the adventure itself was a gift he was able to share in return with the Malins.
"As a special gift, Nancy organized a 'get away' trip," said Phyllis, of the trek to several of the region's most beautiful sites through Malin's efforts, and those of Cadiz Township Trustee Ray Paoluccia and Karen.
"Even after Ray became hospitalized, Ron and Nancy visited him regularly, bringing anything he requested," recalled Phyllis, noting Nancy's attention to finding opportunities to personally lift Phyllis' spirits were treasured gifts.
During his many years as a Smithfield Township Trustee he became good friends with Ron Malin, also a township trustee. As often happens in organizational settings the four would frequently attend the same local and regional meetings, often splitting the driving and meeting up to enjoy meals together when attending the many events and functions which had ties back to their local and regional political responsibilities.
Since Ray passed, they always make sure to include me, they make sure I can still go to the events we all went to together for years. It lets me keep a strong personal connection to what was an important part of our life as a family.
True and lasting friendships are gifts freely given, shared, and deeply valued, particularly when its realized that they continue to grow stronger as the passing of each day brings changes to every life.
Being a good friend to others was something the late Ray Amoroso Sr. understood well, and practiced as a part of his approach to life's everyday challenges and blessings.
After her husband's death, Phyllis never expected to be attending the statewide township conference events in Columbus each February.
The Malins had no intention of allowing her to sit at home and miss out on that annual gathering.
"Thanks to their graciousness I haven't had to miss a conference yet," offered Amoroso in personal appreciation for the opportunity the Malins make available to her to keep a connection with her late husband's life's works solidly in place.
But big events on the schedule are hardly the sole focus of their continuing connection.
Whether spur of the moment or an organized and planned outing with others after church, the Malins continue sharing life's little and big adventures with Phyllis.
"As a token of my appreciation, I feel that Ron and Nancy are very much deserving of this award. They are definitely 'givers' in the midst of their busy lives, always lending a helping while touching your heart and bringing smiles to make a beautiful day," reflected Phyllis. "Their example in life is an important lesson for all of us; we should 'pay it forward'."