Honors presented for outstanding youth, adults who work and volunteer on their behalf

Photos by Tom Rivers: Youth recognition award winners include, front row, from left: Jeffrey Brown, Ethan Ferchen, Samantha Johnson, Cooper Traxler, and Amber Kiefer. Back row: Alexis Ramsdell, Libbie Pecora, Jordan Bull, Lance Babcock, Ann Faery, Olivia Bieber and Alicia Allen. Missing from photo include Cora Bennage, Thomas Dobri and Mason Neale.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2022 at 9:44 am

LYNDONVILLE – The Orleans County Youth Board recognized 15 youths for their service to the community or for an extraordinary role in their family.

The awards were presented last week during the 40th annual Youth Recognition Banquet. The event was held at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

The following were recognized: Alicia Allen of Albion, Lance Babcock of Holley, Cora Bennage of Holley, Olivia Bieber of Albion, Jeffrey Brown of Albion, Jordan Bull of Holley, Thomas Dobri of Holley, Ann Faery of Albion, Ethan Ferchen of Albion, Samantha Johnson of Albion, Amber Kiefer of Lyndonville, Mason Neale of Holley, Libbie Pecora of Holley, Alexis Ramsdell of Kendall and Cooper Traxsler of Albion.

The youths were praised for their kindness, helpfulness and efforts to make their school and community a better place.

The Youth Board also recognized five adults for their service to local young people.

Each year a volunteer for youth is presented the Eileen Heye Adult Volunteer Recognition Award.

Jaime Allport of Albion received the honor for her 13 years of service to Albion Youth Sports Athletic Program (AYSAP). She is critical to the success of the program through her work with sign-ups, fundraising, organizing practices and collecting all the documentation and needed school information, said her brother Geno Allport, commissioner of the league.

Allport is at the field on games days, from sunrise to sundown. She keeps track of all the rosters, keeps the stats during the games, and will work the concession stands.

Allport thanked all of the volunteers for keeping youth sports and programs going in the community. She gave a special shoutout to John Grillo, the Albion youth recreation director and retired Holley wrestling and tennis coach. Allport said he was her first coach when she was a kid and has been a mentor.

The Orleans County Youth Board last week recognized this trio for their service to youth in Orleans County. From left include Heather Jackson, a juvenile probation officer; Jaime Allport, an active volunteer the past 13 years with the Albion Youth Sports Athletic Program (AYSAP), and Annette Finch, who is recently retired as director of community service for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. Mike and Cheryl Wertman also were recognized for their work covering youth sports for the Orleans Hub and the former Journal-Register.

Four people received the Helen R. Brinsmaid Adult Youth Worker Award.

Annette Finch was honored for a career over 40 years with Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, where she was instrumental in providing assistance to people in crisis. Finch recently retired as director of community services. She ran the Red Kettle campaign in the county during the Christmas holiday season and oversaw a toy drive. She also pushed to sign children up for a summer camp. Her main job was getting emergency services for families in need.

“Annette is an angel to many and an inspiration of kindness and love,” the Youth Board stated.

Heather Jackson has been serving Orleans County youth for nearly 20 years – with 10 years as a caseworker with the Department of Social Services and the past eight years as a juvenile officer in the Probation Department.

She has been able to keep more at-risk youth out of the criminal justice system by helping them and their families access services and programs to help them succeed.

Mike Wertman, the sports editor at the Orleans Hub, has been covering high school sports locally for 44 years. His wife Cheryl, the Hub’s sports photographer, has been capturing the images of the athletic events for 37 years.

The two are together on the sidelines, baseball diamonds and gyms. They have worked for the Orleans Hub for about nine years. Before that, they were part of the former Journal-Register in Medina.

Many of their write-ups and photos from the games are displayed on refrigerators and in scrapbooks, going back decades now, said Geno Allport, who nominated the Wertmans and presented their award. (They were unable to attend the awards program because they were covering a playoff baseball game.)

The Wertmans keep up the daily coverage at a time when many newspapers have scaled back their local reporting.

The Wertmans not only cover the varsity games, but they include youth sports as well.

“They are beyond important figures to the sports world in Orleans County,” Allport said. “For nearly half a century they have been supporting youth in Orleans County and the surrounding counties. Their work is very important to the kids and their families.”

The awards’ recipients received certificates and citations form the Youth Board, Orleans County Legislature, Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s office and State Sen. Robert Ortt’s office. The Youth Board also gave each of the winners a yard sign to celebrate their recognition.