2021 'Unsung Heros' Oswego Children Board

In place of a single recipient for the 2021 Unsung Hero award, the Oswego Children’s Board this week honored a slew of individuals who went the extra effort and helped local children through the national nonprofit Blessing in a Backpack. Pictured in the top row; from left to right, Alberto Mendez, Patti Powers, Ted Powers, Steve Gioia and Craig Traub; second row from left to right, LaDonna Tucker, Carla Stelmach, Betty Ringes, Beth Hallinan and Norma Barnes. First row; from left to right, Pat Spath, Connie DeShaies, Bill Karl, Robin Hillpot, Linda Bulgrien and Mary McSweeney

OSWEGO — The Oswego Children’s Board this year is making up for the lack of a proper celebration the last two years by increasing its recognition of residents who did what they could to help children throughout the community.

The annual unsung heroes recognition typically honors a single community member who makes extraordinary contributions to the community and improves the lives of children throughout the county. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Children’s Board has not hosted a celebration of those heroes in two years and the organization’s leaders are looking to make up for it.

“This year (Children’s Board co-president) LaDonna Tucker and I came up with the idea of not just honoring one, but honoring all of the unsung heroes all throughout the county,” said Children’s Board co-president Norma Barnes.

The children’s board this year selected a slew of community members involved with Blessings in a Backpack, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding school aged children throughout the country, according to the nonprofit’s website (www. blessingsinabackpack.org).

According to Barnes, the organization in a typical year would award a single recipient who receives a $100 check to send to a charity of their choosing. Due to the staggering amount of recipients, which total around 100 people, officials said the board would send $100 checks to the nine respective Blessings in a Backpack chapters throughout Oswego County to be spent on food and other supplies for the children.

“This has certainly been a horrendous year, heading toward two years, and without the dedication of the amazing members of the Backpack teams, it’s hard to imagine what so very many kids and families would have done,” Barnes said. “Kids have felt the direct affects of so much during this time, but they could at least count on not having to go hungry.”

The 2019 Unsung Hero award winner was Jim Omundsen for his work with the Oswego Minor Hockey Association.

Tucker echoed Barnes sentiment and said she was “overwhelmed” by the small crowd of people who gathered for the small ceremony Tuesday in front of Oswego City Hall.

“Just seeing all these people and listening to them talk and have enthusiasm about helping or doing it, even during COVID, and the amount of kids that are being serviced by it, it means so much,” Tucker said. 

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