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Four volunteers win Jefferson Awards

March 13, 2014: Four volunteers have been selected as winners of the Toledo-Area Jefferson Awards. They are: Marcy McMahon, Jay Mirrow, Phyllis Morton, and Martha Pituch, PhD, RN.

The winners were announced at the annual Jefferson Awards celebration and breakfast, said Joseph Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade. “We should all be proud of the fine work done by these volunteers,” Mr. Zerbey said. “Through their hard work, they have made our community a better place to live, and I am happy that we can take part in recognizing them today.”

The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation was established by Marcy McMahon in 1984 and, as a result of its success, merged with the Foundation's regional chapter. The Northwest Ohio Regional Chapter of the Foundation is now known as one of the largest charitable organizations in Northwest Ohio.

Mrs. McMahon, along with the other founding members, set on a quest to make the dreams of those seeking assistance from the 12th Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation a reality. In its first years, the local Chapter was able to secure a variety of donated products and services, including limousines, airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and more.

Mrs. McMahon served on the Chapter’s board from 1984 until 1992, and again from 2004 until 2010. In addition to her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mrs. McMahon actively serves as the vice president, membership chairwoman and grants committee member of the University of Toledo’s Women in Philanthropy organization. She is also active in the Toledo Opera Association, the Toledo Opera Guild, the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, Bethany House Toledo, Partners for Clean Streams (formally known as Clearwater), and the Girl Scouts. Mrs. McMahon was nominated by her husband, Brian McMahon.  

After realizing the need to promote literacy within the Toledo Public School District, Jay Mirrow developed a plan and worked to implement a solution. In 2011, Mr. Mirrow worked to pair trained tutors/mentors with students at McKinley Elementary School in Toledo. This year, his outreach efforts were expanded to include Toledo’s Larchmont and Sherman Elementary schools as well.

He became motivated to promote literacy upon hearing that funding was to be cut from the state’s “Ohio Reads” initiative. As the chair for the Social Action Committee at The Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania, OH, Mr. Mirrow sought backing from the Temple and, upon receiving approval, set to work to solidify logistics, recruit mentors, secure training, and coordinate lessons with teachers. His work went beyond the planning phase and moved into implementation. Mr. Mirrow developed a database to track tutor/student meetings, student behavior, material reviewed during each session, and how the students performed – all of which has been essential to the process of providing constant and consistent feedback to teachers, tutors, and their students. Mr. Mirrow was awarded the Global Volunteer of the Year award in 2013 from Owens Corning. This award came with $10,000, which is being used to further enhance the existing literacy program. Since then, additional Toledo-Area schools have expressed interest in expanding these literacy services into their facilities. He continues work to meet these requests. Jay Mirrow was nominated by Janet Rogolsky.

Phyllis Morton, 86, continues to find new ways to volunteer, promote the arts, and advocate for children in Northwest Ohio. These days, Mrs. Morton is found spearheading the acquisition and restoration of a history museum in Perrysburg, Ohio; working to protect abused and neglected children as a member of the Citizen Review Board; advocating for residents of two central city nursing homes as an ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality) Nursing Home Ombudsman; and volunteering for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), a distinction she has proudly held for more than 34 years.

Even though Mrs. Morton grew up in Newton, Mass., she made the choice to move to Northwest Ohio with her six children after visiting with her sister who lived in Perrysburg. Soon after she and her family settled in the area, Mrs. Morton learned about an employment opportunity through the Zoar Lutheran Church. This opportunity ultimately resulted in a long-term career, as Mrs. Morton became the founding director of Abundant Life, a senior housing development project launched by the church, where she served for 30 years. In addition to managing the senior housing facility, Mrs. Morton filled her days with volunteer work. From working with youthful offenders and tutoring children to volunteering as a docent for the Toledo Museum of Art, an usher for the Toledo Symphony, and for the Toledo Opera Guild, Mrs. Morton has helped fulfill the lives of others by giving the gifts of time and compassion. Phyllis Morton was nominated by Jennifer Teschner.    

Martha Pituch, Ph.D., RN, is regarded as a tireless advocate, a fearless activist, and an inspiration to women throughout our region. As a public health nurse and an active volunteer, she has made outstanding contributions to the community through her work with children and their families, the homeless, those suffering with AIDS, battered women, and others seeking proper access to health care.

Named to the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991, Dr. Pituch went on to receive the YWCA Milestones Award in 1997, which denotes outstanding women in Northwest Ohio, before she was recognized in 2004 as one of only 200 women who were said to have made “significant contributions in the State of Ohio and the nation over the last 200 years.” As recently as 2012, Dr. Pituch was named an Outstanding Senior Volunteer by Medical Mutual of Northwest Ohio and received the regional and national Compassionate Hero awards. Although Dr. Pituch has received numerous praise and awards for her volunteerism, she says that her greatest reward is learning that she has made a difference in the lives of area students pursuing careers as RNs by inspiring them to use their education and talent to give back to their community through volunteerism.

Even though she has retired from higher education, Dr. Pituch continues to motivate, inspire, and mentor undergraduate nursing students who volunteer their services in the nursing clinic at Cherry Street Mission – where she has been an active volunteer for the last 23 years. Dr. Martha Pituch was nominated by Shirley Shea.


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Revised: 03/18/14 19:24:57 -0800.




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