"Hey! That's My Neighbor" highlight is a great place to find a monthly reminder that there are a lot of good people doing everyday types of good deeds as they go through the day - just about any day.
But, chances are you won't run in to them standing still long enough to get more than the occasional pat on the back from others for their efforts. A reality that more often than not is just fine with them, as things like public acclaim, and being fussed over as thanks for a job well done are not the reasons they do things like donating their time, talents, and resources to the interests they find important in the communities they respectively call home.
This month's selected person to highlight is long-time Bellaire resident Lou Ann Bennett.
Lou Ann Bennett, right, January’s “Hey!?That’s my neighbor” honoree, poses with her friend Nancy Raeder aboard the plane Bosslift 2012. Raeder nominated her friend “because of all she does all year long for the Village of Bellaire, and the people who live here.”
Her nomination was brought forward by one of her closest friends, Nancy Raeder.
"I'm nominating Lou Ann Bennett of Bellaire because of all she does all year long for the Village of Bellaire, and the people who live here," said Nancy Raeder.
"She not only serves her community by acting as a city council person, she also has served as President of the Chamber of Commerce and built its membership to over 100 businesses in under two year's time.
"She and her family work with the Chamber to make the Christmas Parade in Bellaire something to make the village proud," reflected Raeder. "This year alone she personally changed over a thousand burned out light bulbs in the village's Christmas lights so the parade would shine."
"She organizes and puts on the Easter Egg Hunt, the All American Days Festival and Boo in the Park, as well as seeing that the children admitted to Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire get a 'Boo Boo Baby' package when they are admitted. She does this with the help of her family and a small group of friends and associates," said Raeder of her friend and co-worker. "The community is lucky to have a woman who puts so much effort into getting donations to put on the events, organizing the people needed to make them happen, and even getting down to cleaning up after each event. And when the 'Clean up Bellaire Days' come up, she is the first one on the street cleaning up the town."
"This is just a tip of the iceberg list of what this woman gives to her community. I am proud to call her my friend and if anyone deserves recognition for their contribution, Lou Ann Bennett does," stated Raeder passionately.
Bennett and Raeder work side-by-side on numerous projects in and around the Bellaire community where they both live, making the work as light spirited as possible as they work diligently to make a difference for their families, friends, neighbors and business associates.
Nothing in the course of her daily life stands a chance of being considered uninteresting by this wife, mother, friend, mother-in-law, grandmother, local businesswoman, and what just might be considered a "professional" community advocate and any and all things tied to Bellaire.
While a person who can readily focus on several goals and tasks at once shortly after visiting last year's Oil and Gas event in the St. Clairsville, area she learned that as a result of a drawing held in connection with the event, she had been selected to be one of two persons eligible to ride along on a military mid-air refueling exercise.
Not one to keep the fun all to herself, she found a way to share the unique experience with her companion to the event and proverbial right hand when it comes to getting VIP lists successfully addressed - Raeder.
The adventure was a once in a lifetime opportunity packed with all the little and big things that can easily make being part of such an event a lifelong memory guaranteed to bring a huge smile to the face of anyone who has "been there - done that."
Her many volunteer service relationships with the local community and local organizations have included commitments such as: serving as a Cub Scout leader, Cub Scout master, Girl Scout leader, PTA president, Bellaire Eagles president, homeroom mother for family members in the Martins Ferry school system and the Bellaire schools; and the after school program "Homework Helpers" at the First United Methodist Church in Bellaire. She has been active in the leadership of the Cumberland Trail Genealogical Society, the Upper Ohio Valley Landlord Association, the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival Committee; serving as chair of the All American Days Committee; National Day of Prayer; the Elks and much more.
It seems her leadership and volunteerism standards have been - by habit - now shared with a number of her family and friends to the point it has become a standing tradition that many of them will annually schedule personal days and or vacation days off work so they can support a local venture as a formidable group of family and friends able to successfully work together for the love of each other and of the community they consider to be "home."
So what fun is there in a tightly packed schedule that involves countless opportunities to share talents, time and resources with the family and friends you love and with others in a community you have called home for most of your entire life - all simply because you love the very special community called your home? It is a place where you can feel perfectly comfortable sitting down at the keyboard of the organ - something she's played since childhood - and lifting musical strains to the heavens for the simple joy of the experience and of opportunities to share the joys of your life with others.
We want to hear from you! Send us your neighbor nominee
Do you know someone who goes out of his or her way to help others??Has someone supported or helped you out in your time of need? If so, we want to hear from you! Send your name and phone number, the nominee's name and phone number and the reason for their nomination to Shaunna Dunder Hershberger, The Times Leader, 200 S. Fourth St., Martins Ferry, Ohio 43935 or email firstname.lastname@example.org