PIQUA —With their new award program, “Pass the Positive,” the local groups Citizens for a Better Piqua and Positively Promoting Piqua are not letting positive contributions and spirits in the community fall by the wayside. They are making sure residents and other citizens alike are being honored and thanked for their generosity and attitude toward Piqua on a month-by-month basis, paying it forward with positivity.
“We were looking at trying to get across the whole community and also trying to look at different age groups of people,” Jim Vetter, president of the Southview Neighborhood Association, said on Saturday morning.
A portion of the first batch of the awards was passed out on Saturday morning by the Rev. Kazy Hinds, Jim Vetter, Scott Miller, Stacy Scott, and Sharon Semanie. Those receiving the award each month were nominated by someone within one of the local groups or by someone who previously won the award. The groups will then place a “Pass the Positive” sign within their yard or storefront for a month before the award is given to someone else in the community.
“I’m probably more excited that the award exists and that it’s going to be thing, not necessarily for myself, for the community,” Ryan King of Can’t Stop Running said. “I think it’s a neat idea.”
Ryan and Amanda King, owners of Can’t Stop Running in downtown Piqua, were the first to receive the award on Saturday morning. They were recognized for support of local running groups, local community events, and school track teams in addition to their support of both the area and the running community in general. According to the Rev. Kazy Hinds of Citizens for a Better Piqua as well as a mayoral candidate for the city of Piqua, “Piqua is a healthier community because of Ryan and Amanda.”
“I think it’s exciting, very exciting,” Amanda King said. “I think anything that gets people excited about the community and being involved … is good for Piqua.” The Kings have been a part of Piqua for all of their lives, and they opened Can’t Stop Running in 2013.
Next to receive the award on Saturday was Mary Beth Barhorst, manager of Readmore’s Hallmark in Piqua. Barhorst was recognized for the welcoming atmosphere that she brings to Hallmark that makes customers “feel appreciated and special,” according to Hinds. Barhorst was also honored for her support of local events and charities. Stacy Scott of Positively Promoting Piqua nominated Barhorst.
“I love Piqua,” Barhorst said. “I love the downtown.” Barhorst wants to see people get back into serving their communities and taking part in their local downtowns.
“All of these people who have been named have been so humble,” Sharon Semanie of Positively Promoting Piqua said during the middle of the hunt for the award winners on Saturday. The others agreed, stating that positivity and kindness came naturally to the winners.
“They’re going beyond just standing behind a cash register,” Hinds said.
Edna Stiefel, a founding member of the Dollars for Scholars committee and an initiator in the creation of the North Parks Neighborhood Association, was honored next.
“I love this town,” Stiefel said.
“This town loves you right back,” Hinds said.
“You do a lot for it,” Scott Miller, president of the Piqua Chamber of Commerce, said.
Stiefel was recognized for her instrumental role in raising over $23,000 for playground equipment and fencing for one of the parks and for her help in forming the Friends of the Piqua Parks. Stiefel has also been a board member for the Piqua Parks, a board member for the YWCA, and a Taste of the Arts committee member for over 20 years.
The last to receive the award on Saturday was Mary Frances Rodriguez, who is also a part of Positively Promoting Piqua and Citizens for a Better Piqua. Rodriguez was one of the minds behind the “Pass the Positive” award.
“I missed a meeting, and this is what happens when you miss a meeting,” Rodriguez joked after she received her award. “And I never missed a meeting.”
“You are the epitome of passing the positive,” Hinds said, acknowledging Rodriguez’s support for the community. Rodriguez was honored for her annual garden tea parties as well as her behind-the-scenes role in numerous community events, such as the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic, Piqua Arts Council events, Mainstreet Piqua events, and the recent successful Safety Service Levy campaign this past election.
Rodriguez said that she enjoys being involved and engaged in the community in order to help it grow.
Another six individuals will be recognized later during this week. Father Angelo C. Caserta of St. Mary and St. Boniface churches will be one of them. Caserta is being honored for being “Piqua’s Angel.”
A special trust was set up for education and health of children through the sales of “Father Caserta’s Italian Supreme Products,” a spaghetti sauce based on Caserta’s mother’s recipe.
According to Hinds, Caserta “was instrumental in the merger agreement between St. Mary and St. Boniface schools, officially creating the Piqua Catholic Schools.” He has also done numerous home visits, handed out baskets to those in need, counseled many people, and visited many patients in the hospital.
Mike and Elizabeth Gutmann of Piqua are being honored for their role as co-chairs in the recent 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit. According to Hinds, they “were instrumental in the overwhelming success” of the summit.
Mike Gutmann is a law partner in the firm of McCulloch, Felger, Fite, and Gutmann. His wife, Elizabeth Gutmann, is a Miami County Municipal Court judge. Mike Gutmann, an Order of George recipient, is also active in the Piqua Rotary Club, Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, and the Piqua Community Foundation, for which he serves as board president.
Lisa Feeser of Piqua is being recognized for her volunteer work as the 2015 chairman for the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce and the treasurer for the Citizens for a Quality Piqua Schools. Feeser also serves with the Salvation Army’s summer feeding program, the Positive Energy People committee, the Grow Piqua Now board, and New Path and Habitat for Humanity through Unity National Bank’s “Unity in the Community” days. Feeser also served the community as the President for the Piqua Indians Athletic Boosters and the Piqua Area United Way board of directors.
Wilma Earls is being honored for running the Bethany Center since 1998, serving as its director to feed people in need. Those who benefit from the center include a variety of local families with young children, people who are medically disabled, senior citizens, and single adults. Earls also receives invaluable assistance from Cathy Large and numerous volunteers.
The last on the list to be recognized is Cassidy Hemm, a senior at Lehman Catholic High School and daughter of Susan and Jeff Hemm. Hemm is being recognized for her volunteer work with many organizations in Piqua, Troy, and Sidney, including Piqua Community Foundation Cakes for a Cause, the Center for Early Learning at Piqua Catholic School, Hospice of Miami County, and CASA. She is an honor student and has been the junior and senior class president. She is also the Interact President, Lime-lighters Section Leader, HOBY ambassador, and Buckeye Girls State Delegate.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall