City announces inaugural class of Hometown Heroes: Ten honored for ‘selfless acts of kindness’

Pictured above from left at Breitbeck Park Sunday are the first winners of the Oswego Hometown Heroes award: Dom Pike, Wade Smith, Mandy Donohue (standing in for Jeremy Donohue), James Loomis, Jessica Wallace, Roberta Barbera, Elizabeth Weimer, Kristen Naylor, and Melissa Russell. Not pictured is Jackie Bouley.

OSWEGO — Ten Port City residents have been named “Hometown Heroes” for what officials say are their selfless contributions to the community as part of a new, annual recognition effort.

The Hometown Heroes award is jointly presented by the city of Oswego and the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau as a way to recognize individuals from the city of Oswego who “quietly go about improving the lives of others through their generosity, energy, and spirit,” according to Oswego Police Department Community Policing members Chelsea Giovo and Steve Carroll.

“Through our work within the community we encounter so many people that are helping others without seeking recognition,” Giovo said. “It’s important to honor those who make a difference and inspire us all to be better.”

A committe led by United Way Executive Director Patrick Dewine and comprised of local community members solicited nominations earlier this year, and selected ten finalists out of the large pool that applied.

“It makes me proud to live in a community filled with so many unsung heroes,” Dewine said

Mayor Billy Barlow said it was important to shine a light on the good works being done in and around the city, often behind the scenes.

“Volunteering to improve the lives of our fellow residents is not exclusive to the city of Oswego,” Barlow said. ”But we honor and celebrate these individuals like few communities do.”

Jennifer Losurdo of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau oganized this year’s nomination process and based on the large, positive response, plans are underway to make Hometown Heroes an annual event returning next December.

“I am honored to be part of this community and to be able to honor the people that deserve this recognition,” Losurdo said. “Every application that came in had amazing things to say about the people nominated.”  

“To me, everyone who was nominated is a hometown hero,” she added.

For more information about next year’s nomination process, contact Jen Losurdo at (315) 349-3451.

Roberta Barbera

A retired teacher who has been seemingly involved in everything from the Take Charge Coalition, to the Oswego Children’s Board, Harborfest volunteer, RSVP, Red Cross, Relay for Life, and the Children’s Fund to name but a few organizations that consume her time and energy. “Volunteering and giving of yourself is the best thing you can do,” proclaimed Barbera.

Jackie Bouley

A health care professional managing The Gardens by Morningstar has worked tirelessly to ensure that The Gardens’ residents are safe and well-informed during the pandemic.  Going out of her way and providing extra time and care for the comfort of the residents is all in a day’s work for her.

Jeremy Donohue

This nurse and veteran is currently deployed in Iraq with the Army National Guard as a combat medic. The husband and father of two, on his second deployment to the Middle East, saves lives at home and overseas. “I am honored to be nominated and happy that people are thinking about deployed soldiers and the mission they are carrying out,” Donohue said when reached in Iraq.

James Loomis

A correctional officer by profession, Sgt. Loomis has been involved in scouting for years, having started a Cub Scout pack, serving as a scout leader and master, and was even instrumental in creating a troop for young girls, even though he has no daughters of his own. His tireless devotion to our youth has motivated many to grow up and serve the community as well.  “It is an honor to be nominated. There are so many people who deserve this recognition,” Loomis said.

Kristen Naylor

Nominated by her daughter Madison, this health care professional is the embodiment of a smart, kind, and funny person who serves the community and makes her family feel special and proud.  “Being able to help the community in times like these is an honor,” Naylor stated. “I am lucky to have the job I have to help people.”

Dom Pike

A retired teacher who has been volunteering around Oswego for decades.  A key member of St. Baldrick’s committee, Toys for Tots, the Blue Line Club, and Red Cross blood drives has been active during the pandemic assisting with numerous food/milk giveaways.  As a youth sports coach, he often has his teams involved in volunteer work as well, truly a leader by example. “Community is what Oswego is all about,” said Pike recently.  “Our city should be a role model for other cities, and I am honored and proud to serve in a wonderful city,” Pike added.

Melissa Russell

Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization that helps feed elementary students on weekends during the school year.  Started in 2013 in Oswego, the local chapter feeds approximately 400 children per week thanks in large part to Missy Russell.  From securing money and food donations, to ordering food monthly, and ensuring that bags are packed each week, Ms. Russell is a true unsung hero amongst many in the community.  “It is an honor to be nominated, I am shocked,” proclaimed Russell.  “I am doing what everyone should be doing.”

Pastor Wade Smith

Pastor Smith is the director of Bridge to Hope, a charitable organization set up to provide supportive services to men restarting their lives in Oswego.  He works tirelessly to provide transitional housing, nutrition, and spiritual guidance to men struggling to get back on their feet.  “I am thankful to be part of a great community.  This is an honor to serve in a great place like Oswego and it is truly an honor to be nominated,” Smith said recently.

Jessica Wallace

This single mother of two daughters is a nurse at the Oswego Hospital, who has worked endlessly during the pandemic while also playing the role of teacher to her home-bound children.  She continues to lead by example, imparting her wisdom of giving on to her daughters. “It is an honor to be chosen as a hometown hero”, stated Wallace. “I go to work every day hoping to brighten someone’s day.”

Elizabeth Weimer

An employee of the Oswego County Office of the Aging, Ms. Weimer goes above and beyond her work duties to ensure that seniors within our community are taken care of with dignity and respect. Whether it is organizing a food drive for seniors, personalizing Christmas cards for residents of local nursing homes, or orchestrating the Adopt a Senior Program to ensure that seniors living alone are not forgotten at Christmas time, Elizabeth Weimer embodies the spirit of a hometown hero.  “You can always do something to brighten someone’s day,” explained Weimer when asked for a comment on her recent nomination.

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