Oswego’s Hometown Heroes honored for selfless acts of kindness

Pictured from left are: Dom Pike, Wade Smith, Many Donohue (standing in for Jeremy Donohue), James Loomis, Jessica Wallace, Roberta Barbera, Elizabeth Weimer, Kristen Naylor and Melissa Russell. Missing from the photo is Jackie Bouley.

OSWEGO — Ten residents of the city of Oswego have been named “Hometown Heroes” for their selfless contributions to the community, the committee formed to establish this inaugural event recently announced.

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

“Hometown Heroes,” jointly sponsored by the city of Oswego was launched for the first time earlier this month 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. The idea was the brainchild of 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,” Giovo added.

Nominations were sought in early December and judged by a committee lead by United Way Executive Director Pat Dewine. The committee received numerous nominations and selected 10 recipients for recognition in what organizers intend to be an annual event. “It makes me proud to live in a community filled with so many unsung heroes,” Dewine proclaimed.

The first recipients of the “Oswego Hometown Heroes” recognition are as follows:

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,” said 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 Donahue: This nurse and veteran is currently deployed in Iraq with the Army National Guard as a combat medic. The husband and father of two boys, 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, 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, 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, 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.

Jennifer Losurdo an employee with the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, helped to organize this year’s nomination process. Based on the response to this year’s call for nominations, plans are underway to make this an annual event next December. “I am honored to be part of this community and to be able to honor the people that deserve this recognition. Every application that came in had amazing things to say about the people nominated. To me, everyone who was nominated is a hometown hero,” proclaimed Losurdo.

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

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